Mostar Bridge is standing up

1Lt. Ender Guner
First published May 7, 2003

The 30m-long, 20m-high, single-span Mostar bridge known as 'Stari Most' (Old Bridge) was built by Ottoman Turk Architect Mimar Hajrudin in 1566 of 456 blocks of stone. It was blown up by Bosnian-Croat forces in November 1993. Old Mostar Bridge was an UNESCO world heritage site, including eleven other historical buildings constructed in Ottoman Turkish era. It is under reconstruction by the Turkish Company ER-BU.

For several months, the workers of the Turkish Company ER-BU have begun reconstructing and reinforcing the foundations and the arch of the bridge.
Grandchildren Work
The contractor and the chief of the workers, Mr. Metin Cetin, said that they were proud of reconstructing such a historical bridge, which had been built by their ancestors. He also added they were approximately 30 Turkish personnel in the site who worked with incredibly superior emotions.

Mimar Hajrudin, a Turkish architect, was in 1566 the builder of the Stari Most, which was destroyed in Nov. 1993 by Bosnian-Croat shells.
Hajrudin was the disciple and the colleague of the greatest architect from the Ottoman Empire, Mimar Sinan. It is to Sinan that we owe many of the most splendid mosques in Istanbul.

One of the stone-masters said, "Some parts of the bridge rescued from the river after its destruction had been used to rebuild the stone span. Now, we rebuild the arch of the bridge and use new stones extracted from quarry along the river. Our intention was to rebuild the bridge to match the original."
For the old timers from SFOR, one has to remember that the first three-ton block of the destroyed bridge came to the surface of the Neretva River Sept. 29, 1997. It was one of the most impressive - and unfortunately forgotten - operations performed by the Hungarian Engineer Contingent (HEC). SFOR's decision to become involved in the reconstruction process had meant intense work for the HEC. The then COMSFOR, Gen. Eric K. Shinseki, attended this memorable day.
According to the architect of the bridge, Ms. Halide Sert, "This work is the most honourable duty of mine. We have use the latest technology to construct the arch of the bridge. I feel myself full of emotion when I think of how Mimar Hajrudin built this bridge with the technology of the 16th Century. Besides, it is impossible not to be affected when considering the bridge was built over four centuries ago and served thousands of people in Bosnia and Herzegovina."
Link to the Future
Eleven other historical structures, built by the Ottoman Turks and also destroyed during the 1992-1995 conflict, are included in the project. After completion of the project, not only a bridge would be built but also a link for the future of Mostar's children would be constructed. Additionally, the old atmosphere will have been caught in Mostar, which was one of the most destroyed cities in Europe during the conflict. In this respect, the reconstruction of the Old Mostar Bridge symbolises reunification. As one of Mostar's inhabitants said, "We, the men, used to show our bravery to our fiancees by jumping to the river from the deck of the bridge before getting married. This did not belong to a specific ethnic group. It was a common tradition."
As local people wish that the bridge will link the city which is ethnically divided after the conflict. Today's children will compose the future of Mostar. They will enhance the city life and make the common traditions to live in the future.

Related links: Engineering, The Old Mostar Bridge Project
Nations of SFOR: Hungary
SFOR at Work

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Photo: Capt. Coskun Piren

Turkish workers reconstruct the arch of the Mostar Bridge, matching the original structure.


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Photo: Capt. Halvor Molland

The first of the fallen stones is brought to the surface by the Hungarian Engineers, Sept. 29, 1997.


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Photo: David Taylor

The stone is lifted to a specially constructed platform where it will be allowed to dry out (Sept. 29, 1997).


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Photo: David Taylor

Hungarian divers prepare to submerge to ready the stone for lifting (Sept. 29, 1997).


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Photo: Archives

A postcard showing the 'Stari most'.