Mostar Bridge - History and Facts | History Hit

Mostar Bridge

Mostar Bridge is a reconstructed 16th century Ottoman bridge in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Kyle Hoekstra

27 Aug 2021
Image Credit: Jan Wlodarczyk / Alamy Stock Photo

About Mostar Bridge

Mostar Bridge, also known as the Stari Most (‘Old Bridge’), is a reconstructed 16th century Ottoman bridge in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The original bridge stood for 427 years before it was destroyed in 1993 during the Croat-Bosniak War.

History of Mostar Bridge

Mostar Bridge was commissioned by the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent in 1557. It was designed by Mimar Hayruddin and is considered an exemplary piece of Balkan Islamic architecture.

The bridge connects the banks of the river Neretva in the old town of Mostar. Mostar is the fifth-largest city in the country and was improving in economic and administrative importance when the original Ottoman bridge was built. It replaced a wooden suspension bridge which reportedly “swayed so much that people crossing it did so in mortal fear”.

Construction took nine years from 1557 and may have cost 300,000 Drams to build. There is little historical information about its construction, though upon its completion it was likely the widest man-made arch in the world.

The bridge is 4 metres wide and 30 metres long, and 24 metres high. A fortified tower is located at either end of the bridge, named the Halebija tower and the Tara tower. The bridge has abutments of limestone.

It was described by 17th century Ottoman explorer Evliya Çelebi as “like a rainbow arch soaring up to the skies, extending from one cliff to the other.” He continued: “[I] have passed through 16 countries, but I have never seen such a high bridge. It is thrown from rock to rock as high as the sky.”

The bridge, which had symbolic significance in Mostar, was deliberately destroyed on 9 November 1993 during the Bosnian War by Croat military forces. 60 shells may have struck the bridge before it collapsed.

It was reconstructed after the war following the establishment of a committee of experts by UNESCO in 1998. Hungarian army engineers recovered submerged material, and Spanish army engineers removed the temporary bridge they had built. The Old Bridge was rebuilt with Ottoman construction techniques using local limestone and inaugurated on 23 July 2004.

Mostar Bridge today

Mostar Bridge is a popular tourist destination in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Mostar Bridge is the location of cliff diving competitions and a local diving tradition. A formal diving competition began in Mostar in 1968.

Getting to Mostar Bridge

Mostar Bridge is in the centre of the city of Mostar. Mostar can be reached by bus from Sarajevo, a journey which takes three hours.

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