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Old Bridge in Mostar: A historical marvel of bridge engineering

Old Bridge in Mostar

Stari Most, or Old Bridge in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, stands as a testament to the architectural and engineering prowess of the Ottoman Empire during the 16th century. This iconic bridge has not only connected the two sides of the Neretva River for centuries but has also become a symbol of resilience, having withstood the tests of time and conflict.

Construction and Design

Commissioned by the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent and completed in 1566, the Old Bridge was designed by the renowned Ottoman architect Mimar Hayruddin. The bridge spans 28 meters in length and arches gracefully over the Neretva River, reaching a height of 24 meters. Its single stone arch, an engineering marvel of the time, is characterized by a humpback shape that adds to the bridge’s stability and aesthetic appeal.

Constructed using local limestone known as tenelija, the Old Bridge reflects the Ottoman architectural style prevalent during the 16th century. The intricate carvings and ornamentation on the parapets showcase the skilled craftsmanship of the builders, making the bridge not just a functional structure but a work of art.

Cultural Significance

Throughout its existence, the Old Bridge has played a central role in the life of Mostar’s residents. It served as a crucial artery for trade, connecting the markets on either side of the river. Additionally, the bridge became a popular venue for the traditional diving competition known as “mostari,” where local daredevils showcase their acrobatic skills by leaping into the Neretva River from the bridge’s apex.

Destruction and Reconstruction

Tragically, the Old Bridge became a casualty of the Bosnian War in 1993 when it was targeted and destroyed by artillery fire. The international community recognized the cultural significance of the bridge, leading to extensive efforts to reconstruct it. The reconstruction project, completed in 2004, employed traditional building techniques and used stones retrieved from the riverbed, maintaining the authenticity of the original structure.

Symbol of Reconciliation

The rebuilding of the Old Bridge not only physically restored a historic landmark but also became a symbolic gesture of reconciliation in post-war Mostar. The bridge stands as a tangible reminder of the city’s ability to overcome the scars of conflict and rebuild its cultural heritage.

The Old Bridge in Mostar remains an exceptional example of Ottoman bridge engineering and a symbol of resilience and cultural identity. Its humpback arch and historical significance make it a must-see destination for tourists and a source of pride for the people of Mostar, embodying the spirit of endurance and unity.