Walking through Mostar is walking through time. The tracks of the past times are visible in this city wherever you go. They stand next to each other, leaning, entangling in a surprising and unrepeatable symbiosis of incredible elements.

Mostar is a city in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the cultural and economic center of Herzegovina and the administrative center of the Herzegovina-Neretva Canton. The city was named after a bridge around which it was built, on the banks of the Neretva River.

Mostar is the first cultural monument from Bosnia and Herzegovina on the UNESCO list of protected monuments of culture of the world. The city is the biggest urban center in Herzegovina and the fifth-largest city in Bosnia and Herzegovina. According to the 1991census, the city had 75,865 inhabitants.

Mostar is known for the famous Old Bridge, which was built in the 16th century. The Old Bridge was destroyed by the Croat National Defense (HVO) forces on November 9, 1993. It was reconstructed in 2004. According to the estimations of the BiH Federation Statistics Bureau from the year of 2003, Mostar is the hometown of 105,448 people (50,019 Bosniaks, 50,929 Croats, 3,644 Serbs and 856 “others”). The periphery is very populated, with villages such as the village of Potoci (2,921 inhabitants in 1991), the village of Vrapcici (3,461 inhabitants in 1991), and the village of Rodoc (4,499 inhabitants in 1991).


The broader area of Mostar was populated in prehistorical period, which is confirmed by many sites (more than 150) from the Neolithic, Copper Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age. The sites include populated caves, graves, weapons, pre-Roman money, etc. Along with cattle-breeding and agriculture, the trade with neighboring centers had also been developed in the Iron Age. During the Roman rule, the area was populated with Illyrian tribes and administratively, it belonged to the Dalmatian province. In that period, roads were constructed in the Neretva Valley. The Basilica from the 4th-6th century in Cim (which is today a part of Mostar) was probably the see of the Sarsenterum Diocese, which was situated in the area of present-day Herzegovina.

A new period began after the fall of the Empire and the immigration of the Slavs. During the Early Middle Ages, the area of Mostar belonged to the province of Zahumlje (Hum). In spite of the supreme authority of the Franks, these areas had a certain degree of independence, particularly during the reign of Prince Mihajlo Visevic (910 – 950). The Nemanjics and then the Bosnian governor controlled the area for some time, while Hum’s princes were strong during the 14th-15th century. One of them – Stjepan Vukcic Kosaca, whose seat was in Blagaj near Mostar, got the title of the Duke (herceg) in 1448, after which Herzegovina was named.

The establishment of the city of Mostar is related to the construction of two towers/forts in the middle of the 15th century, probably in the period of Duke Stjepan. The fort on the right bank of the Neretva River was Cimski Grad (the town of Cim) and the fort of the left bank of the Neretva River was Nebojsa. These two forts were mentioned for the first time in the Dubrovnik report of April 3, 1452, which describes a rebellion of Vladislav Hercegovic against his father Stjepan (it was written “ha preso quello di … Blagay et do castelli al ponte de Neretva, namely he occupied…Blagaj and two forts on the bridge over the Neretva River).

The name Mostar was mentioned for the first time in the Ottoman census from 1468 – 1469, and it is clear that it was related to the settlement around the two forts on the Neretva River from a document from a session of the Council of the Dubrovnik Republic 1474. Blagaj (1297) and Gacko (1176), which was mentioned for the first time as the main center of trade roads, with developed crafts and trade, are older than it. It was the main center of Herzegovina, Bosnia and Zeta. It is believed that before Herzegovina fell to the Ottomans, the settlement of Mostar had only 19 houses with a small suspension bridge that united both banks. The men that guarded this bridge were called mostari (bridge keepers) and it is presumed that the town is named after them.

The Ottomans conquered Mostar probably in 1468. Around 35 Ottoman soldiers lived in Mostar in that period. Land properties were given to them and the inhabitants became serfs. Thanks to the traffic importance of the crossing over the Neretva River at the beginning of the 16th century, Mostar became the center of the Herzegovinian district. In 1566, the bridge made of wood was replaced by the stone-bridge. The administrative and traffic development of the city contributed to that decision.

During Ottoman times Mostar quickly became a key trading partner with Dubrovnik and other coastal cities. Caravan routes led directly to Mostar, carrying Dalmatian goods such as olive oil, fish and linen. Cargoes of wool, meat, honey and oats were shipped from Mostar towards the seaside cities. You can still walk the streets of the old town and find craftsmen and artisans of all sorts selling their wares.

In the 16th and 17th centuries, an intensive expansion of the city was registered. At the end of this period, Mostar had around 10,000 inhabitants. The city had been developed as a typical Ottoman settlement, with characteristic housing areas – mahalas – and market area – carsija. In the 18th century, stagnation and a decrease of the number of inhabitants were registered.

Mostar-Bosnia and Herzegovina3In 1833, a special Herzegovina province was established. It was seated in Mostar and led by Ali-Pasha Rizvanbegovic, who got the title of the Vizier. Consulates of some countries (Austria, Italy, Russia, the Great Britain and France) were opened. The construction of the road Mostar – Metkovic in 1862 also contributed to the traffic importance.

During the short reign of the Austro-Hungarians, a public bath was built, many newspapers and periodicals were established, more schools and bridges were erected and the city expanded its road system. Christians also enjoyed greater freedoms, particularly the Catholics. This period saw the construction of several new cathedrals and churches throughout the Mostar area. All along the outskirts of the old town one can see the Viennese-style architecture from this period. Austro-Hungarian rule ended with the assassination of Prince Ferdinand in Sarajevo. In the decades that followed, much of Bosnia and Herzegovina experienced harsh economic and political struggles. With the end of World War II and the victory of Tito’s partisans came a challenging but peaceful time. Mostar became one of the major socialist strongholds in the former Yugoslavia. It had the highest rate of mixed marriages and continued to be the most important city of Herzegovina. The city enjoyed great prosperity in the years leading up to the disintegration

The Old Bridge is the famous bridge over the Neretva River in Mostar. It was built between 1557 and 1566 and it is the creation of Ottoman architect, Mimar Hajruddin. On November 9, 1993, the HVO destroyed the bridge. After the reconstruction in 2004, the Old Bridge was put on the UNESCO World Heritage List. It is known as the main symbol of Mostar and Herzegovina.

The Old Bridge was put on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2005.

The Old Bridge in Mostar is a bridge made of local stone known as tenelija. The humpbacked arch has a span of almost 29 meters and a rise of 20 meters above the river. The profile of the bridge is so thin and high above the water that to many it was hard to believe that such a building could be built from huge stone blocks.

The bridge was built simply to connect the two banks of the Neretva River without any decorative intent or a special meaning. The main influences on the design of the bridge were the surroundings and location. The whole complex is not the result of one design but a continuous development through the ages, dependent on historical events and the need for protecting the river crossing. The old bridge is not related to any specific style or age of architecture, so it is unique in the world.

Before the construction of the Old Bridge, that part of the Neretva River was already connected with a bridge. That bridge and the city of Mostar were mentioned for the first time in a letter of a citizen of Dubrovnik to the Dubrovnik Council, in which he wrote that Vladislav Hercegovic, the son of Duke Stjepan, had turned against his father and occupied Blagaj and two towers and the bridge over the Neretva River (et do castelli al ponte Neretua). In 1466, Mostar came under the Ottoman rule and the city around the bridge started becoming bigger and bigger and more important because of it.

It is not known when the first bridge was built, but it is known that it was in use until the rule of Mehmed II The Conqueror in the 15th century, when a new bridge was built. However, the new bridge was also of low-quality. The 17th century Turkish geographer Celebi wrote that the bridge was wooden hung from chains and, since it was not reinforced by piers, shook so that one could cross it only in mortal fear. Because of that, it was not a surprise that the inhabitants of Mostar asked Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent to construct a new stone bridge.

The sultan obliged and set the task to Ottoman architect Mimar Hajruddin, the disciple of the legendary Minar Sinan. According to the legend, Hajruddin fled the city the day before the bridge was opened, out of fear of Suleiman the Magnificent who had said he would be put to death if the arch of the bridge ever falls apart.

The contractor was a local man; Mehmed Karadjoz. The works began on October 24, 1557. A total of 456 blocks of stone and 300,000 akces (Ottoman money) were needed for the construction. The works were completed nine years later.