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.

Source: Advisory Body Evaluation

Article Name
Historical Description of Mostar