Culture and history info
Human settlements on the river Neretva, between the Hum Hill and the Velež Mountain, have existed since prehistory, as witnessed by discoveries of fortified enceintes and cemeteries. Evidence of Roman occupation was discovered beneath the present town.
As far as medieval Mostar goes, although the Christian basilicas of late antiquity remained in use, few historical sources were preserved and not much is known about this period. The name of Mostar was first mentioned in a document dating from 1474, taking its name from the bridge-keepers (mostari); this refers to the existence of a wooden bridge from the market on the left bank of the river which was used by traders, soldiers, and other travelers. During this time it was also the seat of a kadiluk (district with a regional judge). Since Mostar was on the trade route between the Adriatic and the mineral-rich regions of central Bosnia, the settlement began to spread to the right bank of the river.
Prior to the 1474 the names of two towns appear in medieval historical sources, along with their later medieval territories and properties – the towns of Nebojša and Cimski grad. In the early 15th century the county (župa) of Večenike covered the site of the present-day Mostar along the right bank of the Neretva, including the sites of Zahum, Cim, Ilići, Raštani and Vojno. It was at the center of this area, which in 1408 belonged to Radivojević, that Cim fort
was built (prior to 1443). Mostar is indirectly referred to in a 1454 charter of King Alfonso V of Aragon as Pons ("bridge"), for a bridge had already been built there. Prior to 1444, the Nebojša fort was built on the left bank of the Neretva, which belonged to the late medieval county still known as Večenike or Večerić.
The earliest documentary reference to Mostar as a settlement dates from 3 April 1452, when Ragusans wrote to their fellow countrymen in the service of Serbian Despot Đorđe Branković to say that Vladislav Hercegović had turned against his father Stjepan and occupied the town of Blagaj and other places, including “Duo Castelli al ponte de Neretua.”.
In 1468 the region came under Ottoman rule and the urbanization of the settlement began. It was named Köprühisar, meaning fortress at the bridge, at the centre of which was a cluster of 15 houses. Following the unwritten oriental rule, the town was organized into two distinct areas: čaršija, the crafts and commercial centre of the settlement, and mahala or a residential area.
The town was fortified between the years 1520 and 1566, and the wooden bridge was rebuilt in stone. The stone bridge, the Old Bridge (Stari Most), was erected in 1566 on the orders of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. 28 metres (92 feet) long and 20 metres (66 feet) high, quickly became a wonder in its own time. Later becoming the city's symbol, the Old Bridge is one of the most important structures of the Ottoman era and perhaps Bosnia's most recognizable architectural piece, and was designed by Mimar Hayruddin, a student and apprentice of the Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan. In the late 16th century, Köprühisar was one of the towns of the Sanjak of Herzegovina. The traveler Evliya Çelebi wrote in the 17th century that: the bridge is like a rainbow arch soaring up to the skies, extending from one cliff to the other. ...I, a poor and miserable slave of Allah, have passed through 16 countries, but I have never seen such a high bridge. It is thrown from rock to rock as high as the sky.