Old Bridge Area of the Old City of Mostar (2005)
Bosnia and Herzegovina

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The historic town of Mostar, spanning a deep valley of the Neretva River, developed in the 15th and 16th century as an Ottoman frontier town and during the Austro-Hungarian period in the 19th and 20th centuries. Mostar has long been known for its old Turkish houses and Old Bridge, Stari Most, after which it is named. In the 1990 conflict, however, most of the historic town and the Old Bridge, designed by the renowned architect, Sinan, were destroyed. 

Bosnia and Hercegovina 2004. The Old Bridge in Mostar.

The Old Bridge was recently rebuilt and many of the edifices in the Old Town have been restored or rebuilt with the contribution of an international scientific committee established by UNESCO. The Old Bridge area, with its pre-Ottoman, eastern Ottoman, Mediterranean and western European architectural features is an outstanding example of a multicultural urban settlement. The reconstructed Old Bridge and Old City of Mostar is a symbol of reconciliation, international cooperation and of the coexistence of diverse cultural, ethnic and religious  communities.

  • Bosnia Hercegovina 2004. The Old Bridge of Mostar. 

Mostar is a city in southwestern Bosnia and Herzegovina, on the Neretva River. Mostar is the main city of Herzegovina, traditionally an administrative unit within the republic. The city’s economy is based on the textile, tobacco, and food-processing industries; there is also bauxite mining in the region. 

Bosnia Herzegovina 2004. The Old Bridge in Mostar, presentation pack.  

However, economic activity was seriously disrupted by war between the country’s three main ethnic groups, the Bosnian Muslims, Serbs, and Croats, which lasted from 1992 to 1995. The city is home to the University of Mostar (founded in 1977). 

Mostar was founded in the 1400s and flourished during the succeeding four centuries of Ottoman rule. Along with the rest of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the city was occupied by Austria-Hungary in 1878; in 1918 Mostar was included in the newly established Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes (later renamed Yugoslavia).

  • Jugoslavia 1966. The Mostar Bridge. 
  • Bosnia Hercegovina 2004. Close-up of the Old Bridge of Mostar. 

Yugoslavia 1966. Mostar Bridge.

Bosnia and Hercegovina 2004. Close-up of the Old Bridge in Mostar.

In April 1992, shortly after Bosnia and Herzegovina declared its independence from Yugoslavia, Bosnian Serbs, backed by the Yugoslav People’s Army, launched an offensive in eastern Bosnia. The war quickly spread to the Mostar region, where Bosnian Croats and Muslims fought against the Serbs. 

Herzeg-Bosnia 1993. Mostar Bridge.

In July 1992, after the Serbs were defeated in Mostar, the Croats proclaimed their own state in the area, called the Republic of Herzeg-Bosnia, intending to annex it to Croatia. They established Mostar as their capital and set up a parliament there. By spring 1993 fighting had broken out between Muslims and Croats; the fighting was especially fierce around Mostar. In November Mostar’s most famous landmark -- a single-arch bridge over the Neretva, designed by Turkish architect Mimar Hairedin in 1566 -- was destroyed by Bosnian Croat forces. By the end of the year, the Croats had largely asserted their control of the city.
  • Herzeg-Bosnia 1993. The Mostar Bridge. 

A federation was forged between Bosnian Croats and Muslims in March 1994, putting an end to the hostilities between them. Mostar suffered extensive physical damage as a result of the war and its population declined. Before the war, Mostar was almost evenly divided among Muslims, Croats, and Serbs. Today there are no Serbs in the city, and the Muslim and Croat populations are politically divided, with Muslims living on the devastated eastern bank of the Neretva, and Croats on the less damaged western bank; travel is restricted between the two sides of the city. 

Bosnia Hercegovina 1995. Mostar Bridge.

Bosnia Hercegovina 2000. Mostar Bridge.

Croatia 2004. Mostar Bridge.

The university continues to hold classes, but must do so in private homes. Mostar came under the administration of the European Union (EU) in June 1994. In December 1996 the EU mandate ended, and the Bosnian government took over administration of the city. The Old Bridge in Mostar is represented on more than 10 different postage stamps, mainly from former Yugoslavia. 

Sources and links:

Many thanks to Mr. Miomir Zivkovic, Serbia Montenegro, for all help and support. 

Other World Heritage Sites in Bosnia Hercegovina (on this site). Please refer to the UNESCO-listing (Bosnia-Herzegovina), for more information about the individual properties including the criteria for their  inscription

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Revised 18 aug 2007  
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