Snapshots of Europe: Stari Most – Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina

Mostar is a must visit place if travelling in this part of the Balkans and is the most important city in the Herzegovina region of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Predominately made up of Muslim Bosniaks and Croats, the mix of religion and culture with inspiration from an Ottoman past makes for a unique little city. The major attraction of Mostar is the famous Stari Most (Old Bridge) over the Neretva River. Mostar means “Bridge-Keeper”.

Stari Most (Old Bridge) in Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina
Stari Most (Old Bridge) in Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina – you can see one of the famous bridge divers up there who will dive into the rather chilly river below for some tourist dollars

The original Stari Most was built under the order of Suleyman the Magnificent. Planning started in 1557 and the bridge was completed in 1566 to become somewhat of an engineering marvel for its time.

Stari Most today Mostar
Stari Most today

The Old Bridge managed to survive for centuries including Italian occupation in World War Two only to be destroyed after 427 years in November 1993 by Bosnian Croat artillery fire during the Bosnian War (1992-1995 fought by Bosnia-Herzegovina against the Bosnian Serbs and Bosnian Croats). It took some 60 shells before collapsing on November 9th, 1993 (deliberately targeted)! By 1995 Mostar itself was in ruins from constant artillery barrages.

Stari Most severely damaged during the Bosnian War 1992-1995
Stari Most severely damaged during the Bosnian War 1992-1995
Stari Most was completely destroyed on November 9th, 1993 as a result of the Bosnian War

26 of 27 mosques were also destroyed in the war. For many years following this tragedy,  the UNESCO heritage old town and Old Bridge were painstakingly restored (they followed the original design plans to rebuild the bridge and reopen it in 2004) and although the remnants of war are still readily visible around the city, where shell pocked and gutted buildings still remain, it is looking fantastic given what happened here just 20 years ago (the emotional scars of the war though, where one day people were your friends and neighbours, the next your enemy, will possibly never heal).

Shell pocked and gutted buildings remain even today in Mostar - remnants of the Bosnian War (1992-1995)
Shell pocked and gutted buildings remain even today in Mostar – remnants of the Bosnian War (1992-1995)

7 Comments Add yours

  1. I flew over this in a helicopter 1996 a shcking sight the town was decimated

    1. Deano says:

      I can only imagine. The destruction that remains gives you a chilling glimpse

  2. Bama says:

    Hopefully other war-torn countries in the world will see peaceful days soon, so life can return to normal and damaged historical sites can be rebuilt.

  3. I visited Mostar in November, it was an amazing place just as I had long imagined it to be. Lots of construction work going on too.

    1. Deano says:

      I couldn’t help but notice a lot of road works going on but also stalled building reconstruction. I hope they continue as it really is an amazing place

  4. Lee, Chungsun says:

    Hello, I am a researcher studying at the University of Tokyo in Japan. I am currently studying heritage management and cultural resources. I think your photos are wonderful, and have been wondering if it is available to introduce one of your photo to my students and professors. (for academic purpose only)
    The photo I’m interested in is ‘Stari Most severely damaged during the Bosnian War 1992-1995’. I would appreciate it if you could give me reply. Thank you very much.

    1. Deano says:

      Hi, thanks for your interest. Unfortunately it is not my photo. I am uncertain who took that photo.

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