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Destruction of the Old Mostar Bridge

Destruction of the Old Mostar Bridge

The Old Mostar Bridge represents a masterpiece of Ottoman architecture, it is a tourist gem of the Herzegovina region and is one of the symbols and most recognizable landmarks of Bosnia And Herzegovina. Built between 1557 and 1566 under the rule of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, this 24 m tall bridge connected not just the two sides of the Neretva river, but also people of different nationalities and religions living in the Mostar area. That makes Mostar and its bridge a symbol of cultural diversity in the Balkans.

The multicultural town of Mostar owes its name to this unique bridge (Bosnian: Most = Bridge) and it is one of the UNESCO heritage sites in Bosnia. The town was heavily razed during the Bosnian war and a lot of cultural heritage was irreversibly damaged, and the bridge itself was not spared.

The town of Mostar was a battlefield where all three nationalities in Bosnia collided. The initial clashes erupted between the Serb-dominant Yugoslav People’s Army on the one side and the Croatian Defense Council (HVO) and Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina (ARBiH) on the other. During the YPA siege of Mostar, which lasted between April and June 1992, all of the city's bridges were destroyed, leaving only the Old Mostar Bridge as the remaining river crossing. YPA’s siege of Mostar ended after the Croatian Defense Council’s operation Jackal, and by 21 June 1992, the Serb forces were completely pushed out of Mostar.

In the second half of 1992, relationships between the Croatian Defense Council and the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina has begun to deteriorate, escalating to open hostility by the end of the year. On 9 May 1993, the HVO launched a major attack on the ARBiH in Mostar, which led to the second siege. The Croats had control of the west of the city, while the Bosniaks were situated in the east AND between June 1993 and April 1994 the HVO besieged Bosniak-held East Mostar. Both sides were under constant sniper fire and shelling, causing the loss of a lot of lives and the destruction of infrastructure. Mostar was the most heavily bombed city in Bosnia with 70 percent of the city destroyed during the war.

Croatian Defense Council shelled the Old Mostar Bridge multiple times between June and 8th November 1993, to prevent any Bosniak movement from one side of the Neretva river to the other. The Old Bridge stood for 427 years until it was destroyed by Croatian tank fire on 9 November 1993 at exactly 10:16 a.m. The Croatian forces hit the bridge with over 60 shells before it finally collapsed, leaving East Mostar isolated and without a source of drinking water. The news of the destruction of the bridge quickly spread throughout the world, causing disbelief and sorrow. It was a tremendous blow to the morale of the Bosniak army and a strategic victory for the Croats.


The hostilities in Mostar ended in 1994, leaving a forever divided town. Reconstruction of the Mostar bridge begun on 7 June 2001. And lasted until the 23 July 2004. The bridge was reconstructed with the remaining original stones recovered from the bottom of the Neretva river, using authentic technologies from the era. Nowadays, the bridge is once again the symbol of Mostar, and it’s visited by thousands of tourists every year.

Rebuilding Old Mostar Bridge meant rebuilding a monumental part of culture, history, and peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina.


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