Figuring out if it’s actually possible to hike to monuments seems to be a recurring theme for me in Eastern Europe.
There’s usually very little information online about whatever it is I’m wanting to check out. I’m usually able to pinpoint the coordinates on Google maps – which most of the time only ends up being partially correct. Then there’s some old TripAdvisor forum from 5 years ago where some says they did it. So I put these two things together and assume I can just follow this Google walking map up to the mountain but it’s never quite that easy.
I do eventually make it to most things but not without encountering a few dead ends, false turns, and roads I’m not even sure if you can walk down. Often times a local sees me wandering around and asks if they can help, as someone did on this trek, and told me not to go up the trail that looked like a shortcut to me. They said there were likely still undiscovered mines down that path and put me on the correct route. Shout out to the giant local man who had to be over 7ft. tall pointing me in the right direction.
As you can see in the above photo, I eventually made it to the top. Taking a taxi up for some 5 Euros or so is an option but I love hiking along with finding out if something’s possible. So, fellow readers, I’m glad to tell you that it is possible and I’m going to give you all the details on how to walk up along with a few shortcuts that are mine free below. You can use this Google Maps link to start:
Step 1. Walk to Groblje Šoinovac Cemetery.
Above you can see what each of the 3 entrances to this cemetery look like. Taking this shortcut will save you roughly 15 minutes hiking both up and down Hum Mountain along with providing the humbling experience of passing through a very remarkable cemetery.
Step 2. Follow the two lane highway up the mountain all the way to the proper Millennium Cross path.
You’re essentially just following this highway up around the numerous bends until you reach the proper trail. At first I thought it may not be possible to walk up along this road – I assure you it’s much more narrow then it looks – but then there were several locals on bikes that rode past me. I squeezed between medians and such all the way until i reached the proper path up to the Millennium Cross.
Step 3. Walk up the final, proper walking path to the Millennium Cross over Mostar.
If you’ve made it this far then the hard part is over. You don’t have to worry about cars whizzing past you anymore and can just follow the monuments all the way up to the Millennium Cross on a proper paved path. This path, however, is more uphill than walking along the highway. The views from here up are quite spectacular.
Step 4. You made it! Now relax and enjoy the views before you hike back down.
Now, to take a step back, let’s take a moment to discuss this history of The Millennium Cross over Mostar.
Perhaps it’s fitting I put this at the end because I didn’t think much about the Millennium Cross’s history until I was standing beneath it. I found myself wondering how a giant cross came to be erected at the highest point on a mountain over a city that’s of predominantly Muslim origin. As you might imagine, it’s a bit of a notorious symbol.
The cross stands at 33 meters high. It’s height of 33 meters represents the number of years Jesus had at the time of the crucifixion. At it’s dedication ceremony when the cross was erected in 2000, Mostar’s Bishop said that the cross was meant “to spread the fruit of peace to all sides of the world” in the hope that “the thunder of tanks and cannons never again be heard from Hum.” Hum was the mountain that, if seized, essentially assumed control over Mostar by the dominating party.
During this ceremony a former Croat general also spoke of how he had conquered the hill in 1992 thus ending the attack on Mostar by the Republika Srbska (Serbia) and the Yugoslav armies. He, however, failed to mention that just a mere year later the Croats themselves shelled the city from Hum Hill again wreaking havoc over Mostar. Hundreds of people were killed and injured while numerous buildings were damaged. The Old Bridge (Stari Most) – which was and is viewed as a Muslim symbol – was destroyed.
As you might imagine, this cross represents something far more sinister than peace to many. It’s perceived as aggressive, dominating over the entire city like a bull flag, honoring Croat soldiers who did indeed defend the city but then contributed greatly to it’s destruction shortly after.
Hopefully I’ve presented this information in a fairly non-biased manner. There’s not much information available online about it’s history and I wanted to give a brief summary of what I was able to find. The tension in Mostar still feels quite really and complex.
On a final, lighter note I might add that it’s worth bringing enough drinking water for the hike up and some snacks. I hiked up during the winter but imagine it’s much hotter in the summer and there’s no shade on the final path to the Cross. I hope you enjoyed this post and highly recommend hiking up to the Millennium (Jubilee) Cross when visiting Mostar!