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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Bosnia and Herzegovina : Old Bridge Area of the Old City of Mostar (2005)










The historic town of Mostar, spanning a deep valley of the Neretva River, developed in the 15th and 16th centuries as an Ottoman frontier town and during the Austro-Hungarian period in the 19th and 20th centuries. Mostar has long been known for its old Turkish houses and Old Bridge, Stari Most, after which it is named. In the 1990s conflict, however, most of the historic town and the Old Bridge, designed by the renowned architect Sinan, was destroyed. The Old Bridge was recently rebuilt and many of the edifices in the Old Town have been restored or rebuilt with the contribution of an international scientific committee established by UNESCO. The Old Bridge area, with its pre-Ottoman, eastern Ottoman, Mediterranean and western European architectural features, is an outstanding example of a multicultural urban settlement. The reconstructed Old Bridge and Old City of Mostar is a symbol of reconciliation, international co-operation and of the coexistence of diverse cultural, ethnic and religious communities.


Justification for Inscription

Criterion (vi): With the “renaissance” of the Old Bridge and its surroundings, the symbolic power and meaning of the City of Mostar - as an exceptional and universal symbol of coexistence of communities from diverse cultural, ethnic and religious backgrounds - has been reinforced and strengthened, underlining the unlimited efforts of human solidarity for peace and powerful co-operation in the face of overwhelming catastrophes.

Long Description

The Old Bridge area of the Old City of Mostar, with its exceptional multicultural (pre-Ottoman, eastern Ottoman, Mediterranean and western European) architectural features, and satisfactory interrelationship with the landscape, is an outstanding example of a multicultural urban settlement. The qualities of the site's construction, after the extremely ravaging war damage and the subsequent works of renewal, have been confirmed by detailed scientific investigations. These have provided proof of exceptionally high technical refinement in the skill and quality of the ancient constructions, particularly of the Old Bridge. Of special significance is the Radoboija stream, which enters the Neretva on its right bank. This provided a source of water for the growing settlement, and from it springs a number of small canals used for irrigation and for driving the wheels of water-mills.
There has been human settlement on the Neretva between the Hum Hill and the Velez Mountain since prehistory, as witnessed by discoveries of fortified enceintes and cemeteries. Evidence of Roman occupation comes from beneath the present town.
Little is known of Mostar in the medieval period, although the Christian basilicas of late antiquity continued in use. The name of Mostar is first mentioned in a document of 1474, taking its name from the bridge-keepers (mostari ); this refers to the existence of a wooden bridge from the market town on the left bank of the river which was used by soldiers, traders, and other travellers. At this time it was the seat of a kadiluk (district with a regional judge). Because it was on the trade route between the Adriatic and the mineral-rich regions of central Bosnia, the settlement spread to the right bank of the river. It became the leading town in the Sanjak of Herzegovina and, with the arrival of the Ottoman Turks from the east, the centre of Turkish rule.
The town was fortified between 1520 and 1566, and the bridge was rebuilt in stone. The second half of the 16th century and the early decades of the 17th century were the most important period in the development of Mostar. Religious and public buildings were constructed, concentrated on the left bank of the river, in a religious complex. At the same time many private and commercial buildings, organized in distinct quarters, known as mahalas (residential) and the bazaar, were erected.
Of the thirteen original mosques dating from the 16th and 17th centuries, seven have been destroyed during the 20th century for ideological reasons or by bombardment. One of the two 19th-century Orthodox churches has also disappeared, and the early 20th-century synagogue, after undergoing severe damage in the Second World War, has been converted for use as a theatre. Several Ottoman inns also survive, along with other buildings from this period of Mostar's history, such as fountains and schools.
The administrative buildings are all from the Austro-Hungarian period and have neoclassical and Secessionist features. A number of surviving late Ottoman houses demonstrate the component features of this form of domestic architecture - hall, upper storey for residential use, paved courtyard, and verandah on one or two storeys. The later 19th-century residential houses are all in neoclassical style.
Some early trading and craft buildings are still existent, notably some low shops in wood or stone, stone storehouses, and a group of former tanneries round an open courtyard. Once again, the 19th-century commercial buildings are predominantly neoclassical. A number of elements of the early fortifications are visible. The Hercegusa Tower dates from the medieval period, whereas the Ottoman defences are represented by the Halebinovka and Tara Towers, the watchtowers over the ends of the Old Bridge, and a stretch of the ramparts.
Source: UNESCO/CLT/WHC

Historical Description

There has been human settlement on the Neretva between the Hum Hill and the Velez mountain since prehistory, as witnessed by discoveries of fortified enceintes and cemeteries. Evidence of Roman occupation comes from beneath the present town.
Little is known of Mostar in the medieval period, though the Christian basilicas of late antiquity continued in use. The name of Mostar is first mentioned in a document of 1474, taking its name from the bridge-keepers (mostari) this refers to the existence of a wooden bridge from the market town on the left bank of the river which was used by soldiers, traders, and other travelers. At this time it was the seat of a kadiluk (district with a regional judge). Because it was on the trade route between the Adriatic and the mineral-rich regions of central Bosnia, the settlement spread to the right bank of the river. It became the leading town in the Sanjak of Herzegovina and, with the arrival of the Ottoman Turks from the east, the centre of Turkish rule.
The town was fortified between 1520 and 1566 and the bridge was rebuilt in stone. The second half of the 16th century and the early decades of the 17th century were the most important period in the development of Mostar. Religious and public buildings were constructed, such as mosques, a madrasah (Islamic school), and a hammam (public bath); these were concentrated on the left bank of the river, in a religious complex (kullia). At the same time many private and commercial buildings, organized in distinct quarters, known as mahalas (residential) and the bazaar, were erected.
Bosnia-Herzegovina was first occupied (1878) and then annexed (1908) by the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and it was in this period that a number of administrative, military, cultural, and Christian religious buildings were established. These were mainly on the right bank of the river, where a new quarter was developed according to a strict ‘Rondo' plan. This provides a strong contrast with the left bank where there was a more organic growth on the steeper slopes, with winding narrow streets and public open spaces for trading (pazar), recreation (mejdan), and prayer (musallah). The town was also connected at this time by rail and new roads to Sarajevo and the Adriatic.
Between 1992 and 1995 the town was badly damaged during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina and much of the urban centre was left in ruins and the Old Bridge destroyed. Since 1998 there have been major restoration projects carried out in the centre of the Old Town, most notably the rebuilding of the Old Bridge.

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