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Calendar >  The Stari Most Bridge of Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina

The Stari Most Bridge of Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina

By   /  October 19, 2015  /  No Comments

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TR Robertson  …

Our recent trip to 10 of the countries in Eastern Europe brought us to the country of Bosnia & Herzegovina and the city of Mostar. Mostar is the 5th largest city in the country and one of the oldest. The city was established in 1474 and in 1566 Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent of the Ottoman Empire ordered the building of a bridge over the Neretva River. This medieval bridge would take 9 years to build. Under the direction of architect Mimar Hajruddin, the bridge would come to display Islamic architecture that was prevalent throughout this part of the world at this time. The architect, Hajruddin, would never see his bridge completed as he fled prior to completion out of fear. The Sultan threatened to kill the architect if the bridge collapsed and Hajruddin wasn’t sure the architectural designs of the bridge would hold up.

The bridge spans 90 feet and is 64 feet above the river. The bridge has gone through some modifications over the years and in 1993 the bridge was destroyed in the Bosniak-Croat War. In 1999, over 15 million dollars was donated by Spain, the United States, Turkey, Italy, Netherlands and Croatia to rebuild the bridge. Spain provided peacekeeping troops for the city and the bridge during this time period. A Grand Opening was held on July 23, 2004 and was placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Pictures by Carolyn Robertson

In 1968, an interesting event was held that would put Mostar on the map and has grown into a yearly occurrence bringing in over 1 million visitors to the city. This event even continued through the war years of the 90’s. The event that was begun was bridge diving. The diving is divided into 2 disciplines – diving headfirst and diving feet first. The event even established its own dive, the elegant Mostar Swallow Dive. Bridge diving begins early for the children of Mostar as youngsters dive from the large rocks along the river bank. Initially, bridge diving was something only the young men of Mostar did, but in recent times, Mostar has become part of the Cliff Diving World Series Championships. The city hosts a yearly event that takes place over a week. The first championship was in 2004 and won by Orlando Duque, a legend in rock diving and cliff jumping from Columbia. He holds 13 world titles. In early 2015, the city hosted one of the Cliff Diving World Series Championships. To qualify as a Cliff Diving Championship, the bridge had to have a platform built in the middle of the span, raising the height of the dives to 87 feet to 92 feet. This year’s event was attended by hundreds of thousands of visitors who line the river banks to watch the divers soar through the air to the water of the Neretva River. The contest was won by 26 year old Mexican cliff diver Jonathan Paredes.

For the thousands of tourists who visit Mostar on days when the cliff diving contest is not held, local divers will plunge from the walls of the bridge for 25 Euros. Visitors can also pay 25 Euros to jump from the bridge. We were told Australians generally are the only people crazy enough to do this. There are many unique places to see in Mostar. The ancient streets wander toward the river, across the bridge and beyond. Numerous tourists stalls have an abundance of items to purchase, including liqueurs made from a variety of fruits and other items. We purchased one made from walnuts. Interestingly, one side of Mostar, divided by the river, is predominately Muslim and the other side predominately Christian. We were told the Muslims make the liqueurs and the Christians purchase the liqueurs and the city remains in peace.

This was an interesting city to visit and we were lucky to see several dives made from this medieval (rebuilt) bridge. It is amazing that some 25 years ago this city was one of many involved in the war that ravaged this and other countries. It is good to see that they are on the road to recovery and the city is worth taking the time to visit.

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