Stari Most, Old Bridge, Bosnia Herzegovina (with Map & Photos)

Once the (Stari Most) Old Bridge in Bosnia Herzegovina, was called New, and this continued for the first hundred years. Officially at that time it was called the Suleiman Bridge, because it was built by order of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. As time went on, the adjective "new" was no longer very suitable for the century-old building, they began to call it the Big Bridge, and when other bridges appeared over the Neretva, the name Old Bridge appeared.

Stari Most Bridge Bosnia Herzegovina
Stari Most Bridge Bosnia Herzegovina

For Mostar (Bosnia Herzegovina), the Old Bridge is the meaning, symbol and core of city life. The city began from here, from these two points on the banks of the Neretva, between which it was required to draw a straight line.

Background


Towers first appeared - a century earlier than the (Stari Most) Old Bridge, in the middle of the 15th century. Between them stretched that very straight line - a rope for a ferry crossing. The ferry on the wayward Neretva was a risky undertaking, the bridge was badly needed.

Stari Most Bridge Bosnia Herzegovina
Stari Most Bridge Bosnia Herzegovina

But the stone bridge was still far away. The first bridge between the towers was suspended from wooden planks and iron chains. He swayed from so that the travelers died of fear. But for travelers - what a random attraction on a long journey, but the inhabitants of Mostar had a hard time. The city developed evenly on both sides of the river, business demanded presence both there and there, several times a day - the most severe stress, no health would be enough.

In addition, the bridge was dilapidated, and it became not only scary to use it, but also really dangerous. Mostarians sent a petition for a new bridge to Sultan Suleiman.

Stari Most Bridge Bosnia Herzegovina
Stari Most Bridge Bosnia Herzegovina

At that time, Mostar had long been one of the cities of the Ottoman Empire. And an empire without good roads and, accordingly, bridges cannot function successfully. With the arrival of the Turks in Bosnia and Herzegovina, several dozen bridges were built in a short period. Two of them were included in the list of world cultural heritage, and several more are monuments of national importance.

Construction


But we got distracted. Sultan Suleiman satisfied the request of the Mostarians and sent to Mostar the young architect Khairuddin, a student of the famous Sinan. The organizer of the work from the side of the local authorities was Hadji Mehmed-beg Karadjoz (he was also responsible for the construction of the most magnificent of Mostar mosques).

Stari Most Bridge Bosnia Herzegovina
Stari Most Bridge Bosnia Herzegovina

Work began in 1557 and was completed in 1566. It took Khairuddin nine years to solve an extremely nontrivial engineering problem.

The classic bridge building technology of that time - several powerful supports, on which no less powerful vaults rest. But it was impossible to install the bridge support in the deep, swift and prone to destructive floods Neretva. It remained to lean on the rocky shores, but in this case, the distance between the supports is almost thirty meters, no one has ever built arches of this size before Khairuddin.

Design


Until now, all the technical details of the construction of the Mostar bridge have not been clarified. For example, how were the scaffolding established for it? How did these scaffolding survive years of construction?

Stari Most Bridge Bosnia Herzegovina
Stari Most Bridge Bosnia Herzegovina

But the main constructive points are already known to researchers. First, a vault of 111 rows of stone blocks was laid out. The blocks were connected with iron wedges. Further, ribs of rigidity were made on the vault - in the center and on the sides. After that, the outer walls were erected, they were covered with crushed stone to the required height, and they were paved on top.

The parapet of the bridge is rather low, in those days the ideas about safety were not very strict, the architect took advantage of this to get the silhouette as thin as possible. At first, the Mostarians did not even dare to step on the bridge, it seemed so thin and fragile to them. Urban legends say that Khairuddin spent three days and three nights under the bridge to prove its reliability.

Stari Most Bridge Bosnia Herzegovina
Stari Most Bridge Bosnia Herzegovina

From the top of the bridge to the bottom, the elevation difference of three meters is a very significant slope. I don’t know how people moved across the bridge in the old days, but during the reconstruction, transverse ribs were added along the entire canvas, without them there would not be a bridge, but an attraction to the delight of tourists of all ages. Well, very slippery.

We would very much like to tell you not only about the construction of the bridge, but also about its later life - after all, it stood in the center of Mostar for more than four centuries, and had to see a lot. But, contrary to our expectations, information about any special events on and around the bridge has not survived, so ordinary everyday city life, of course, with its own dramas, but not of the scale to be recorded by historians.

Stari Most Old Bridge Map