Old Bridge Area of the
Old City of Mostar - UNESCO World Heritage List
The oldest written testament of the existence of
medieval Mostar date back to the 15th century, prior to the invasion of
the Ottoman Turks. The testament was the work of Herceg Stjepan Radivoj
(the Duke of Herzegovina).
The first medieval bridge in Mostar was a wooden suspension bridge which was very unstable and of fragile construction. When the Turks invaded and conquered Mostar, Sultan Sulejman the Magnificent ordered the construction of a new bridge in Mostar. From the reports of Hadzi Kalfa, the bridge was completed in 1566 which coincidentally was the last year of Sulejman's reign.
The Austro-Hungarian Empire absorbed Mostar in 1878 and then it became part of Yugoslavia in the aftermath of World War I. Since 1881 Mostar has been the seat of the Bishopric of Mostar-Duvno. The city`s symbol, The Old Bridge (Stari Most) is one of the most important constructions of Ottoman Era and built by the student of the famous Ottoman Architect Mimar Sinan ( Architect Sinan), Mimar Hayrettin.
Between 1992 and 1993, after Bosnia and Herzegovina declared independence from Yugoslavia, the town was subject to a 18 month siege. The Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) first bombed Mostar on April 3rd, 1992 and over the following week gradually established control over a large part of the town. On April 8th, the army of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Armija Bosne i Hercegovine, ABIH) was joined by the Herzegovina Croats founded, the Croatian Defense Council (Hrvatsko Vijeće Obrane, HVO) as their military formation. These two engaged against the JNA forces in combat. The JNA shelling damaged or destroyed a number of civilian objects and resulted in a mass killing of thousands of innocent civilians. Amongst destroyed monuments were a Franciscan monastery, the Catholic cathedral and the bishop's palace, with a library of 50,000 books, as well as the Karadžoz-bey mosque, Roznamed-ij-Ibrahim-efendija mosque and twelve other mosques, as well as secular institutions. On June 12th 1992, the ABIH (4th Corps) and HVO military forces amassed enough weaponry and manpower to force the JNA troops out of Mostar. During the siege that ensued, the city was bombarded by the Bosnian Serbs from the mountains to the east.
After the Serbs were driven out, the heavily armed, Croatia funded Bosnian-Croat forces (HVO) turned their guns at their once allies, the Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina, in hope of capturing the whole city for themselves in the light of Bosnian-Croat Secessionist campaign. The campaign resulted in the deeply rooted division of the city of Mostar into West Mostar (run by HVO) and the East Mostar (run by the Bosnian Government). HVO forces (and its smaller divisions) engaged in a mass execution, ethnic cleansing and rape on the Bosniak people of the West Mostar and its surrounds and a fierce siege and shelling campaign on the Bosnian Government run East Mostar. HVO campaign resulted in thousands of injured and killed and this city's Old Town reduction to Rubble. HVO forces, as part of their campaign, destroyed the city's most recognisable symbol, the 1566 Old Bridge. Today, the city is slowly recovering from divisions created by the conflict. Some of the scars of that division still remain today.
The Old Bridge of Mostar was destroyed in November 1993 (Outside link)
The Old Bridge reconstruction in June 2003Since the end of the wider war
in 1995, great progress is being made in the reconstruction of the city
of Mostar. The city was under direct monitoring from a European Union
envoy, several elections were held and each nation was accommodated with
regard to political control over the city. Over 15 million dollars has
been spent on restoration.
PCU and ERBU company in charge of reconstruction work (outside link)
A monumental project to rebuild the Old Bridge to the original design,
and restore surrounding structures was initiated in 1999 and mostly
completed by Spring 2004. The money for this reconstruction was donated
by the United States, Turkey, Italy, the Netherlands, and Croatia. A
grand opening was held on July 23, 2004 under heavy security.
In July 2005, UNESCO finally inscribed the Old Bridge and its closest vicinity on the World Heritage List. Previously, the inscription had been repeatedly deferred on account of poor quality of post-war reconstructions and deplorable use of modern materials in the old town
Download free brochure in PDF for Conservation and Revitalisation of Historic Mostar. Geneva: The Aga Khan Trust for Culture. This brochure celebrates the completion of a five-year-long restoration and rehabilitation effort in the historic city of Mostar, carried out in parallel with the restoration of Mostar's most famous landmark, the Old Bridge [Stari Most].
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