Stari Most (literally 'Old Bridge'), also known as Mostar Bridge, is a rebuilt 16th-century Ottoman bridge in the city of Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina that crosses the river Neretva and connects the two parts of the city. The Old Bridge stood for 427 years, until it was destroyed on 9 November 1993 by Croat paramilitary forces during the Croat–Bosniak War. Subsequently, a project was set in motion to reconstruct it; the rebuilt bridge opened on 23 July 2004.

Stari Most
Stari Most22.jpg
Stari Most in 2006
Coordinates43°20′13.56″N 17°48′53.46″E / 43.3371000°N 17.8148500°E / 43.3371000; 17.8148500Coordinates: 43°20′13.56″N 17°48′53.46″E / 43.3371000°N 17.8148500°E / 43.3371000; 17.8148500
LocaleMostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Official nameStari most
Heritage statusKONS listed[1]
Designarch bridge
Total length29 metres
Width4 metres
No. of spans1
Clearance belowcca.20 metres at mid-span depending on river water-level
ArchitectMimar Hayruddin (concept could originate from Mimar Sinan idea)
Constructed byMimar Hayruddin, apprentice of Mimar Sinan
Construction start1557
Construction end1566
Rebuilt7 June 2001 – 23 July 2004
Collapsed9 November 1993
Official nameOld Bridge Area of the Old City of Mostar
Designated2005 (29th session)
Reference no.946
State Party Bosnia and Herzegovina
RegionEurope and North America
Stari Most is located in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Stari Most
Stari Most
in Old Town of Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina

The bridge is considered an exemplary piece of Balkan Islamic architecture and was commissioned by Suleiman the Magnificent in 1557. It was designed by Mimar Hayruddin, a student and apprentice of architect Mimar Sinan who built many of the Sultan's key buildings in Istanbul and around the empire.[2][3][4][5]


Stari Most 2008

The bridge spans the Neretva river in the old town of Mostar, the city to which it gave the name. The city is the fifth-largest in the country; it is the center of the Herzegovina-Neretva Canton of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the unofficial capital of Herzegovina. The Stari Most is hump-backed, 4 metres (13 ft 1 in) wide and 30 metres (98 ft 5 in) long, and dominates the river from a height of 24 m (78 ft 9 in). Two fortified towers protect it: the Halebija tower on the northeast and the Tara tower on the southwest, called "the bridge keepers" (natively mostari).[1]

Instead of foundations, the bridge has abutments of limestone linked to wing walls along the waterside cliffs. Measuring from the summer water level of 40.05 m (131 ft 5 in), abutments are erected to a height of 6.53 metres (21 ft 5 in), from which the arch springs to its high point. The start of the arch is emphasized by a molding 0.32 metres (1 ft 1 in) in height. The rise of the arch is 12.02 metres (39 ft 5 in).[1]


Bridge photographed 1974

The original bridge replaced an older wooden suspension bridge of dubious stability. Construction began in 1557 and took nine years: according to the inscription the bridge was completed in 974 AH, corresponding to the period between 19 July 1566 [1] and 7 July 1567. Little is known of the construction of the bridge, thought to have been made from mortar made with egg whites,[6] and all that has been preserved in writing are memories and legends and the name of the builder, Mimar Hayruddin. Charged under pain of death to construct a bridge of such unprecedented dimensions, Hayruddin reportedly prepared for his own funeral on the day the scaffolding was finally removed from the completed structure. Upon its completion it was the widest man-made arch in the world.[citation needed]

Original Stari Most photographed in the 1970s.

The 17th Century Ottoman explorer Evliya Çelebi wrote that the bridge "is like a rainbow arch soaring up to the skies, extending from one cliff to the other... I, a poor and miserable slave of Allah, 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."[7]

As Mostar's economic and administrative importance grew with the growing presence of Ottoman rule, the precarious wooden suspension bridge over the Neretva gorge required replacement. The old bridge on the river "...was made of wood and hung on chains," wrote the Ottoman geographer Katip Çelebi, and it "...swayed so much that people crossing it did so in mortal fear". In 1566, Mimar Hayruddin designed the bridge, which was said to have cost 300,000 Drams (silver coins) to build. The two-year construction project was supervised by Karagoz Mehmet Bey, Sultan Suleiman's son-in-law and the patron of Mostar's most important mosque complex, the Hadzi Mehmed Karadzozbeg Mosque.


The temporary cable bridge

The Old Bridge was destroyed on 9 November 1993 during the War in Bosnia and Herzegovina. After its destruction a temporary cable bridge was erected by Spanish military engineers in its place.[citation needed]

Newspapers based in Sarajevo reported that more than 60 shells hit the bridge before it collapsed.[8] Croatian General Slobodan Praljak argues in his document "How the Old Bridge Was Destroyed"[9] that there was an explosive charge or mine placed at the center of the bridge underneath and detonated remotely in addition to the shelling that caused the collapse. Most historians disagree and believe his research was trying to absolve his men and himself from crimes committed during the war.[10]

After the destruction of the Stari Most, a spokesman for the Croats said that they deliberately destroyed it, because it was of strategic importance.[11] Academics have argued that the bridge held little strategic value and that its shelling was an example of deliberate cultural property destruction. Andras Riedlmayer terms the destruction an act of "killing memory", in which evidence of a shared cultural heritage and peaceful co-existence were deliberately destroyed.[8]

Both sides of the city remained linked until the bridge's reconstruction by the Spanish and Portuguese military engineers assigned to the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) mission.[citation needed]


Stari Most undergoing reconstruction in 2003.

After the end of the war, plans were raised to reconstruct the bridge. The World Bank, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Aga Khan Trust for Culture and the World Monuments Fund formed a coalition to oversee the reconstruction of the Stari Most and the historic city centre of Mostar.[12] Additional funding was provided by Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, Croatia and the Council of Europe Development Bank, as well as the Bosnian government.[12] In October 1998, UNESCO established an international committee of experts to oversee the design and reconstruction work.[12] It was decided to build a bridge as similar as possible to the original, using the same technology and materials.[12] The bridge was re-built with local materials and Ottoman construction techniques by the Turkish company Er-Bu.[13] Tenelia stone from local quarries was used and Hungarian army divers recovered stones from the original bridge from the river below.[12] Reconstruction commenced on 7 June 2001. The reconstructed bridge was inaugurated on 23 July 2004, with the cost estimated to be 15.5 million US dollars.[12][1]


Video of a dive

Stari Most diving is a traditional annual competition in diving organized every year in mid summer (end of July). It has taken place 477 times as of 2013.[14] It is traditional for the young men of the town to leap from the bridge into the Neretva. As the Neretva is very cold, this is a risky feat and requires skill and training,[15] though TripAdvisor has said tourists do dive as well.[16] In 1968 a formal diving competition was inaugurated and held every summer. The first person to jump from the bridge since it was re-opened was Enej Kelecija.[17]

Since 2015, Stari Most has been a tour stop in the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series.[citation needed]

In popular cultureEdit

  • Turkish rock band Bulutsuzluk Özlemi's 1996 song "Yaşamaya Mecbursun" (lit. 'You have to live') written about sorrow after the destruction of Stari Most.[18] With lyrics:
Turkish lyrics English translation
Bugün duyduğun haberler
Sana utanç veriyor
Bugün din ve ırk uğruna
Cinayet işleniyor
Mostar Köprüsü çökmüş
Neretva ne kadar üzgün
Kim bilir
Today the news that you heard
Makes you feel ashamed
May be
Today for the sake of religion and race
Murder is being committed
May be
Mostar Bridge has been collapsed
How sad is Neretva
Who knows

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d "Old Bridge (Stari Most) in Mostar - Commission to preserve national monuments". Commission to preserve national monuments (KONS). 8 July 2004. Retrieved 25 June 2018.
  2. ^ Balić, Smail (1973). Kultura Bošnjaka: Muslimanska Komponenta. Vienna. pp. 32–34. ISBN 9783412087920.
  3. ^ Čišić, Husein. Razvitak i postanak grada Mostara. Štamparija Mostar. p. 22. ISBN 9789958910500.
  4. ^ Stratton, Arthur (1972). Sinan. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. ISBN 9780684125824.
  5. ^ Jezernik, Božidar (1995). "Qudret Kemeri: A Bridge between Barbarity and Civilization". The Slavonic and East European Review. 73 (95): 470–484. JSTOR 4211861.
  6. ^ "Croats destroy historic bridge". The Independent. London, UK. Retrieved 18 July 2015.
  7. ^ "Saudi Aramco World : Hearts and Stones". Retrieved 2014-10-27.
  8. ^ a b Coward, Martin (2009). Urbicide: The Politics of Urban Destruction. London: Routledge. pp. 1–7. ISBN 0-415-46131-6.
  9. ^ "Translated from Croatian". Retrieved 2017-12-07.
  10. ^ "Slobodan Praljak: Defending Himself by Distorting History :: Balkan Insight". Retrieved 2017-12-07.
  11. ^ Borowitz, Albert (2005). Terrorism for self-glorification: the herostratos syndrome. Kent State University Press. pp. 65. ISBN 0-87338-818-6.
  12. ^ a b c d e f Armaly, Maha; Blasi, Carlo; Hannah, Lawrence (2004). "Stari Most: rebuilding more than a historic bridge in Mostar". Museum International. 56 (4): 6–17. doi:10.1111/j.1468-0033.2004.00044.x.
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-07-17. Retrieved 2012-07-17.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  14. ^ "Mostar". Retrieved 5 October 2013.
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ "Chránený klenot" (in Slovak). Pluska. 15 Dec 2006.
  18. ^ Retrieved: 2014-11-20

External linksEdit