Mostar

Mostar is the economic, political and cultural center of Herzegovina, the largest and the most important city in the Herzegovina region and the center of the Herzegovina-Neretva Canton of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Mostar lays in the large sunny and fertile Mostar basin at the altitude of 60 meters, at the crossroads of lowland- and mountainous- Herzegovina, surrounded by slopes of Prenj, Velez /1967 meters/ and Cabulja Mountains and hills of Hum. Neretva River – the main river of Herzegovina flows through the center of Mostar, dividing town into two parts, or connecting them. The old town of Mostar is surely the most charming and attractive part, especially for numerous copper-smiths and goldsmiths and carpet-makers and artisans in the Old Bazaar that is known as Kujundziluk, the colorful Old Bazaar with traditional handicrafts and a well-preserved traditional Turkish home. This Oriental part of the city is UNESCO Heritage site which still preserved its old tradition of highly skilled craftsmen in metal engraving, painting and rug-weaving. The central part of the old Mostar with its forts, towers and gates developed around this magnificent monument producing a unique architectural whole.

From Illyrian times until the Ottoman invasion, the ancient settlement of Blagaj was the center of political power and Mostar was no more than a tiny settlement of 19 houses with small wooden bridge along the banks of Neretva River. Guards of the bridge were ‘mostari‘ after whom the name of Mostar is derived. With the arrival if the Ottomans came relative peace and stability. The mountaintop fortresses used since Illyrian times and particularly by the Bosnian aristocracy in the centuries before Herzegovina was conquered and lost a great deal of significance. For example in Mogorjelo we have the opportunity to enjoy the ruins of the Roman large estate – Villa Rustica – presented with an excellent Herzegovinian cuisine and lighted at night with torches and accompanied by traditional music and folklore. The fertile but exposed valley in which Mostar is located was an ideal place for building a city – so that is exactly what the Ottomans did. Herzegovina officially came under Ottoman rule in 1482 when Mostar became Ottoman Empire administrative and military center of the Herzegovina region. The old town developed around the new stone bridge /Stari most/ that was completed in 1566 by Dalmatian craftsmen but in Ottoman design. With the old bridge at the center, new mahalas /quarters/ began to spring up on both sides of Neretva River. Mosques and medresas /religious schools/ were constructed as Islam spread through the growing town. In the late 16th and early 17th centuries many of Mostar’s most beautiful and significant Islamic structures were built. The Cejvan-Cehan Mosque was constructed in 1552 and is the oldest surviving monument of Ottoman rule in Herzegovina. In 1557, eight years before the construction of the Old Bridge, the Kriva Cuprija Bridge, which was reputedly a prototype for the Old Bridge was built over the Radoblja stream that feeds into Neretva River. During Ottoman times Mostar quickly became a key trading partner with Dubrovnik and other coastal cities and experienced a long period of cultural, political and economic growth. 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. All three religious communities lived in harmony for centuries with Ottomans who had high level of tolerance towards the Christian population. After the third failure of the Ottomans in the Battle for Vienna in 1683, the Empire started to decline. Uprisings were most frequent in the 18th century, especially from 1875 to 1878 and until the end of the 19th century which marked the final collapse the Ottoman Empire. Austria-Hungary included Bosnia and Herzegovina in its administrative region when railroad, bridges, schools and public bath were built. Austria-Hungarian rule ended with the assassination of Prince Ferdinand in Sarajevo and much of Bosnia and Herzegovina experienced harsh economic and political struggles in the decades that followed. With the end of the World War II and the victory of Tito’s partisans came challenging, but peaceful time. Mostar became one of the major socialist strongholds and the most important city of Herzegovina. The city enjoyed great prosperity in the years leading up to the disintegration of Yugoslavia. All immediately changed with the War in Bosnia in 1992 when Mostar experienced its worst part of history that is regarded as its worst destruction. Mostar was on the front lines of the mid-90’s troubles, and most of the city was completely devastated. Even now the downtown is full of condemned and abandoned buildings, their windows blown out like black eyes. Even the stunning Old Bridge was blown to smithereens during what many consider to be the low point of the war.

Until 2004 Mostar was split up along ethnic lines and consisted of six small municipalities. Those ethnic divisions are not evident to visitor today. Decision of the country High Representative to unify the six municipalities into the “City of Mostar”, guaranteeing equal rights and representation to all its peoples has been most courageous. Truly united Mostar is the only way to ensure peace for the future generations. There has been much reconstruction since the war ended but wounds need a long time to heal.

When the Stari most, or Old Bridge, collapsed from Croat tank shelling in 1993 it was like the heart was ripped out of most Mostar natives. Now the uniquely beautiful stone structure that had spanned the Neretva River for over four centuries once again arches across its raging waters. The reopening of the Stari most – Old Bridge in July 2004 was spectacular celebration that reinstated Herzegovina as one of the most exciting tourist destinations in the Balkans. Mostar is one of the most beautiful old towns in the region – slick and white town with the icy green winding Neretva. In its center of cobblestone footpaths sits the breathtaking arch of the Old Bride.

The Mostar Old Bridge

When Turks invaded Mostar, there was wooden bridge near today’s Old Bridge that hung on chains. As it became worn out in the middle of the 16th century people of Mostar asked the authorities in Istambul to build a new bridge from quality material. They got permit and the Old Bridge was completed and put into service in July 1566. The Mostar Bridge was designed by Mimar Hajrudin Young, pupil of the famous Sinan, the great Turkish architect in honor of the Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent. Its span is 28,70 meters and 4,49 meters wide it has only one big stone arch. It was built from the stone “tenelija” which comes from the Mukosa quarry, 5 km south of Mostar. The Mostar Bridge was built of square stones connected with iron hooks. The well-known builders and masons from Dubrovnik and surroundings of Popovo Polje built the bridge at the narrowest part of the Neretva River canyon and thus completed the whole marvelous picture of this landscape making it one of the most beautiful in the total length of the river, from its source to the Adriatic Sea. Mostar is known for its magnificent Old Bridge all over Europe and the world.

The Tower of Halebija – Cehovina Mostar

Tower of Halebija sits on the right bank of the Neretva River, next to the Mostar Old Bridge. There was a prison on the ground floor from 1716, while the floors above served as guard-houses for accommodation of garrison.

The Tower of Tara Mostar

The Tara Tower is situated on the left side of the Mostar Old Bridge. It was built in semi-circular shape with its flat side turned towards the Bridge. The walls of Tara Tower are more than 3 meters thick. Erected in 1676 Tara Tower served as storage for gun-powder and ammunition. The Muzej Stari most with the observation poin is located in the Tara Tower.

Ceyvan Cehan Mosque Mostar

In the immediate vicinity of the Mostar Old Bridge, on the main road /Velika Tepa/ lies the Ceyvan Cehan Mosque. It is belived to be one of the oldest buildings in Mostar, built from 1552 0 1553, confirmed by the inscription above the entrance gate. The minaret was added next to the left wall near the entrance. Later a medresa /Islamic school/ was built on the same compound.

Koski Mehmed Pasha Mosque Mostar

The Koski Mehmed Pasha Mosque is 150 meters to the north of the Mostar Old Bridge between Tepa and Kujundziluk. The Mosque was built in 1617 in square shape and covered by a dome. The paintings inside are typical Ottoman design and the detailed woodwork of the doors is an Ottoman trademark. The altar with steps is for the efendija /Muslim cleric/ to lead prayers or to address his congregation. The sadrvan /fountain/ in front of the Mosque was set under six stone columns, connected with arches and covered with stone tiles.

Karadjoz-bey’s Mosque Mostar

Karadjoz-Bey Mosque in Mostar is the most beautiful and important monumental work of Islamic sacred architecture of the 16th century in the whole territory of Herzegovina. There is dome above the Mosque and its interior are is square /13,4 x 13,4 meters/. Its minaret is tall and harmonious and decorated. The Mosque was completed in 1557. Its designer was Kodza Mimar Sinan, the great Ottoman architect. The interior is richly decorated with Oriental arabesques and floral motifs. The sadrvan /fountain/ is in the courtyard in front of the Mosque. This Mosque was heavily bombarded during the war and its minaret was completely destroyed by tank and artillery rounds from the Croatian forces. It was restored and opened to the visitors again.

The Old Mosque Mostar

The Old Mosque, next to the Old Bridge, has been preserved with all the ancillary buildings dating from the 15th to the 19th centuries. Nearby there is a line of small craft workshops and handicrafts shops, as well as small restaurants offering traditional specialties. This part of the town is favorite promenade for young people, artists and tourist.

Kriva Cuprija Mostar – Crooked Bridge Mostar

Kriva cuprija spans the Radobolja River, close to its confluence with Neretva and about 100 meters from the Old Bridge which is the miniature of the Old Bride. Kriva cuprija Bridge was built in 1558 by the Ottoman architect Ceyvan Kethoda, eight years before construction of the Old Bridge. It is believed that the Kriva cuprija – the Crooked Bridge had been used as a model for the much larger building achievement of the Old Bridge. The Crooked Bridge is made of stone and is constructed according to the Roman model in the form of an arch. Semi-circular in form, the span of the arch is 8,43m in length and 4,21m in height, and constructed in the traditional way using “Tenelija” stones cut by hand and put together with mortar. The parapets are made of limestone, and the road surface is also constructed in a traditional manner using stone thresholds and pebbles in mortar. Kriva cuprija Bridge was destroyed in flood in 2001 and recently restored under the auspices of UNESCO.

Tepa – pijaca Market Mostar

The main Mostar market place has been called „tepa” of „Small Tepa” for centuries. It is situated an the immediate vicinity of Kujundziluk Street and the Old Bridge. Here you can also find various handicrafts and food specialties /cheese, pomegranate…/

Biscevic’s House Mostar

One of the most significant and most beautiful houses from Turkish period is the Biscevic’s House. It is situated in Biscevic Street, on the very banks of the Neretva River. The Biscevic’s House was built in the 18th century with a ground-floor and the first floor where there is a large room for conversation /divanhana/. In the courtyard of the Biscevic House there is a small building which served as kitchen. The interior of the Biscevic House is beautifully arranged in Oriental style and the floor is extended on poles. The facade of the Biscevic House is characteristic of Turkish architecture of that time.

The Old Orthodox Church Mostar

The old church was built at the place of the present Old Orthodox Church which was destroyed in order to build this beautiful church in 1833. There was a very valuable icon of Our Lady in the interior of the Orthodox Church in Mostar, together with numerous icons dating from the 15th until the 19th centuries. The Old Orthodox Church Mostar which was dedicated to the Birth of the Holy Virgin was destroyed in the most recent war.

The New Orthodox Church Mostar

Construction of the Church in the immediate vicinity of the Old Orthodox Church began in 1863 and was completed in 1873. The new Orthodox Church was located on the hilly zone. Its construction works were designed by the artist Spasoje Vulić who was not familiar with Mostar infrastructure so the church was completed by Andreja Damjanov, who just have finished the Orthodox Church in Sarajevo. Similar to the Old Orthodox Church the works were financed by the Serbian Orthodox citizens of Mostar. At that time it was the largest Orthodox Church in Bosnia and Herzegovina and one of the most beautiful religious structures in Mostar. Unfortunately the Orthodox Church Mostar was burnt and completely destroyed on the 6th of January 1993, at Christmas Eve, so that nowadays only ruins are left. Destruction of the most recent war completely destroyed this beautiful structure, what lead to loss of its artistic heritage. Reconstruction plans are scheduled for the near future.

Catholic Church Mostar

Catholic Church in Mostar was completed within the old diocese complex at Podhum, in what was previously the garden of the Vizier Ali Pasha Rizvanbegovic of Herzegovina. The Mostar Catholic Church was recently renovated after it was heavily damaged during the war. A steeple of over 30 meters dominates the skyline. The Franciscan Monastery and the provincial residence were built next to the Church. The Franciscan monastery houses library with 50000 books and collection of valuable documents and letters and Oriental manuscripts and a big collection of paintings, ranging from the Italian masters of the 16th and the 17th centuries til modern artists.

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