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Grad Mostar
City of Mostar
From top, left to right: A panoramic view of the herritage town site and the Neretva river from Lu?ki Bridge, Koski Mehmed Pasha Mosque, Mostar Clock Tower (Sahat Kula), Stari Most Museum, Bazzar Kujund?iluk in Mala Tepa herritage area and a night view of Stari Most and Neretva river.
From top, left to right: A panoramic view of the herritage town site and the Neretva river from Lu?ki Bridge, Koski Mehmed Pasha Mosque, Mostar Clock Tower (Sahat Kula), Stari Most Museum, Bazzar Kujund?iluk in Mala Tepa herritage area and a night view of Stari Most and Neretva river.
Flag of Mostar
Coat of arms of Mostar
Coat of arms
Map of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Mostar)
Map of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Mostar)
Coordinates: 43°20?N 17°48?E / 43.333°N 17.800°E / 43.333; 17.800Coordinates: 43°20?N 17°48?E / 43.333°N 17.800°E / 43.333; 17.800
Country Bosnia and Herzegovina
EntityFederation of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Canton Herzegovina-Neretva
Geographical regionHerzegovina
 o MayorMario Kordi? (HDZ BiH)
 o Total1,165.63 km2 (450.05 sq mi)
60 m (200 ft)
 o Total113,169
 o Density97/km2 (250/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 o Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)
Area code(s)+387 (0) 36

Mostar (,[1][2] ;[3][4] Cyrillic: , Serbo-Croatian pronunciation: [m?sta:r] ) is a city and the administrative center of Herzegovina-Neretva Canton of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, an entity of Bosnia and Herzegovina.[5]

Mostar is situated on the Neretva River and is the fifth-largest city in the country.[6] Mostar was named after the bridge keepers (mostari) who in the medieval times guarded the Stari Most (Old Bridge) over the Neretva.[7] The Old Bridge, built by the Ottomans in the 16th century, is one of Bosnia and Herzegovina's most visited landmarks, and is considered an exemplary piece of Islamic architecture in the Balkans.[8][9][10][11]


Ancient and medieval history

Human settlements on the river Neretva, between Mount Hum and the Vele? Mountain, have existed since prehistory, as witnessed by discoveries of fortified enceintes and cemeteries. Evidence of Roman occupation was discovered beneath the present town.[12]

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.[12]

Prior to 1474 the names of two towns appear in medieval historical sources, along with their later medieval territories and properties - the towns of Neboj?a and Cimski grad. In the early 15th century the county (?upa) of Ve?enike covered the site of the present-day Mostar along the right bank of the Neretva, including the sites of Zahum, Cim, Ili?i, Ra?tani and Vojno. It was at the center of this area, which in 1408 belonged to Radivojevi?, 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 Neboj?a Tower was built on the left bank of the Neretva, which belonged to the late medieval county still known as Ve?enike or Ve?eri?.[13] The earliest documentary reference to Mostar as a settlement dates from 3 April 1452, when Ragusans from Dubrovnik wrote to their fellow countrymen in the service of Serbian Despot ?or?e Brankovi? to say that Vladislav Hercegovi? had turned against his father Stjepan and occupied the town of Blagaj and other places, including "Duo Castelli al ponte de Neretua.".[14]

Ottoman period

The Old Town Street
Springtime in Mostar by Tivadar Kosztka Csontváry (1853-1919)

In 1468 the region came under Ottoman rule[14] 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. The town was organized into two distinct areas: ?ar?ija, the crafts and commercial centre of the settlement, and mahala or a residential area.[15]

The town was fortified between the years 1520 and 1566, and the wooden bridge rebuilt in stone.[12] The stone bridge, the Old Bridge (Stari most), was erected in 1566 on the orders of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent[16] and at 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 was designed by Mimar Hayruddin,[10] a student and apprentice of 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.[17]

The first church in the city of Mostar, a Serbian Orthodox Church, was built in 1834 during Ottoman rule.[18]

Austrian and Yugoslav period

People of Mostar in 1890-1900
People gathered waiting for Stjepan Radi? to arrive in Mostar in 1925

Austria-Hungary took control over Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1878 and ruled the region until the aftermath of World War I in 1918, when it became part of the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs and then Yugoslavia. During this period, Mostar was the main urban centre of Herzegovina.[19] In 1881 the town became the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Mostar-Duvno and in 1939, it became a part of the Banovina of Croatia. During World War II, Mostar was also annexed city in the Nazi German fascist puppet state, the Independent State of Croatia.

During the period of Austro-Hungarian rule (1878-1918), Mostar's city council cooperated with the Austro-Hungarian administration to implement sweeping reforms in city planning: broad avenues and an urban grid were imposed on the western bank of the Neretva, and significant investments were made in infrastructure, communications and housing. City administrators like Mustafa Mujaga Komadina were central players in these transformations, which facilitated growth and linked the eastern and western banks of the city. Noteworthy examples of Austro-Hungarian architecture include the Municipality building, which was designed by the architect Josip Vanca? from Sarajevo, Residential districts around the Rondo, and Gimnazija Mostar from 1902 designed by Franti?ek Bla?ek.

8th Yugoslav Partisans' Corps in liberated Mostar, February 1945

After World War II, Mostar developed industries producing plastics, tobacco, bauxite, wine, aircraft and aluminium. Several dams (Grabovica, Salakovac, Mostar) were built in the region to harness the hydroelectric power of the Neretva. The city was a major industrial and tourist center and prospered economically during the time of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

Between 1948 and 1974 the industrial base was expanded with construction of a metal-working factory, cotton textile mills, and an aluminum plant. Skilled workers, both men and women, entered the work force and the social and demographic profile of the city was broadened dramatically; between 1945 and 1980, Mostar's population grew from 18,000 to 100,000.

Because Mostar's eastern bank was burdened by inadequate infrastructure, the city expanded on the western bank with the construction of large residential blocks. Local architects favored an austere modernist aesthetic, prefabrication and repetitive modules. Commercial buildings in the functionalist style appeared on the historic eastern side of the city as well, replacing more intimate timber constructions that had survived since Ottoman times. In the 1970s and 1980s, a healthy local economy fueled by foreign investment spurred recognition and conservation of the city's cultural heritage. An economically sustainable plan to preserve the old town of Mostar was implemented by the municipality, which drew thousands of tourists from the Adriatic coast and invigorated the economy of the city. The results of this ten-year project earned Mostar an Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1986.[20]

According to the 1991 census, Mostar had 127,000 inhabitants with roughly an equal number of Bosniaks (34.6%) and Croats (34%), 18.8% Serbs, and 13.6% of those who declared themselves Yugoslavs or Others.[21]

Bosnian War

War damage on the former Mostar frontline, 2001

After Bosnia and Herzegovina declared independence from Yugoslavia in April 1992, the town was besieged by the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA), following clashes between the JNA and Croat forces. The Croats were organized into the Croatian Defence Council (HVO)[22] and were joined by a sizable number of Bosniaks.[23] The JNA artillery periodically shelled neighbourhoods outside of their control from early April.[24]

On 7 June the Croatian Army (HV) launched an offensive code named Operation Jackal, the objective of which was to relieve Mostar and break the JNA siege of Dubrovnik. The offensive was supported by the HVO, which attacked the Army of Republika Srpska (VRS) positions around Mostar. By 12 June the HVO secured the western part of the city and by 21 June the VRS was completely pushed out from the eastern part. Numerous religious buildings and most of the city's bridges were destroyed or severely damaged during the fighting.[24] Among them were the Catholic Cathedral of Mary, Mother of the Church, the Franciscan Church and Monastery, the Bishop's Palace and 12 out of 14 mosques in the city. After the VRS was pushed from the city, the Serbian Orthodox ?itomisli? Monastery and the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity were demolished.[25]

Throughout late 1992, tensions between Croats and Bosniaks increased in Mostar. In early 1993 the Croat-Bosniak War escalated and by mid-April 1993 Mostar had become a divided city with the western part dominated by HVO forces and the eastern part controlled by the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina (ARBiH).[26] Fighting broke out in May when both sides of the city came under intense artillery fire.[27] The city was divided along ethnic lines, with a number of offensives taking place, resulting in a series of stalemates.[28][29][30] The Croat-Bosniak conflict ended with the signing of the Washington Agreement in 1994, and the Bosnian War ended with the Dayton Agreement in 1995. Around 2,000 people died in Mostar during the war.[31]

Two wars (Serb forces versus Bosniak and Croatian and Croat-Bosniak war) left Mostar physically devastated and ethno-territorially divided between a Croat-majority west bank (with ca. 55,000 residents) and a Bosniak-majority old City and east bank (with ca. 50,000 residents), with the frontline running parallel to the Neretva River. Most Serbs had fled the city.[32]

Post-war developments

The Old Bridge undergoing reconstruction in June 2003.

Since the end of the wider war in 1995, great progress has been made in the reconstruction of the city of Mostar. Over 15 million dollars has been spent on restoration.[] A monumental project to rebuild the Old Bridge, which was destroyed during the Bosnian War, to the original design, and restore surrounding structures and historic neighbourhoods was initiated in 1999 and mostly completed by spring 2004. The money for this reconstruction was donated by Spain[] (who had a sizable contingent of peacekeeping troops stationed in the surrounding area during the conflict), the United States, Turkey, Italy, the Netherlands, and Croatia. A grand opening was held on 23 July 2004 under heavy security. In parallel, the Aga Khan Trust for Culture and the World Monuments Fund, with funding provided by the World Bank, undertook a five-year-long restoration and rehabilitation effort to regenerate the most significant areas of historic Mostar, and particularly the urban tissue around the Old Bridge. Also in July 2004, the Stari Grad Agency was launched to operate and maintain the restored buildings, including the Old Bridge complex, and promote Mostar as a cultural and tourist destination.[33] In July 2005, UNESCO inscribed the Old Bridge and its closest vicinity onto the World Heritage List.

International reconstruction efforts also aimed at the reunification of the divided city. The February 1996 Mostar Agreement led to the adoption of the Interim Statute of the city the same month, and to a 1-year period of EU Administration of Mostar (EUAM), headed by former Bremen mayor Hans Koschnick, till early 1997.[34] After six years of implementation, in 2003 OHR Paddy Ashdown established an "international commission for reforming Mostar", whose final report noted how the HDZ/SDA power-sharing in Mostar had entrenched division and corruption, with "rampant parallelism" in administrative structures and usurpation of power by the municipalities over the City.[21]:5 A new Statute was negotiated, and finally imposed in February 2004 by OHR Paddy Ashdown.[21]:6 In November 2010, the Constitutional Court struck down as discriminatory the electoral framework for Mostar. Yet, the Bosniak and Croat ruling parties did not get to a new compromise. In the lack of a legal basis, local elections could not take place in Mostar in 2012 and 2016, and outgoing mayor Ljubo Be?li? (HDZ BiH) remained in office as the only person authorised to allocate the city budget on an emergency basis. Almost a decade without administration led to a decline in service provision, including as regards trash collection. In October 2019 Irma Baralija won a case against Bosnia and Herzegovina at the European Court of Human Rights for the lack of elections in Mostar. Finally, a political deal, agreed under international mediation in June 2020, enabled legislative amendments in July 2020 and the conduct of the vote in Mostar on 20 December 2020.[35][36]


Old Town of Mostar
Gimnazija Mostar, designed by architect Franti?ek Bla?ek
Koski Mehmed pasa Mosque.
Catholic church and Franciscan monastery of St. Peter and Paul

Mostar has architecturally noteworthy buildings in a wide range of styles. Historicist architectural styles reflected cosmopolitan interest and exposure to foreign aesthetic trends and were artfully merged with indigenous styles. Examples include the Italianate Franciscan church, the Ottoman Muslibegovi?a house, the Dalmatian ?orovi? House and an Orthodox church which was built as gift from the Sultan.

The Ottomans used monumental architecture to affirm, extend and consolidate their colonial holdings. Administrators and bureaucrats - many of them indigenous people who converted from Christianity to Islam - founded mosque complexes that generally included Koranic schools, soup kitchens or markets.[20]

Old Bridge Area of the Old City of Mostar
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Stari Most from the air.JPG
Old Bridge in the heart of the Old City of Mostar (Aerial photo)
CriteriaCultural: vi
Inscription2005 (29th Session)
Area7.6 ha
Buffer zone47.6 ha

Out of the thirteen original mosques dating from the 16th and 17th centuries, seven have been lost during the 20th century for ideological reasons or by bombardment. One of the two 19th-century Orthodox churches has also disappeared, while the early 20th-century synagogue, after suffering severe damage in the World War II, has been converted into a theatre. Several Ottoman inns also survived, along with other buildings from this period of Mostar's history, such as fountains and schools.[12]

The majority of administrative buildings are from the Austro-Hungarian period and have neoclassical and Secessionist characteristics. A number of surviving late Ottoman houses demonstrate the component features of this form of domestic architecture - upper storey for residential use, hall, paved courtyard, and verandah on one or two storeys. The later 19th-century residential houses are predominantly in neoclassical style.[12]

A number of early trading and craft buildings still exist, notably some low shops in wood or stone, stone storehouses, and a group of former tanneries round an open courtyard. Once again, the 19th-century commercial buildings are predominantly neoclassical. A number of elements of the early fortifications are visible. Namely the Hercegusa Tower dating from the medieval period, whereas the Ottoman defence edifices are represented by the Halebinovka and Tara Towers - the watchtowers on the ends of the Old Bridge, and a stretch of the ramparts.[12]

The oldest single arch stone bridge in Mostar, the Kriva Cuprija ("Sloping Bridge"), was built in 1558 by the Ottoman architect Cejvan Kethoda. It is said that this was to be a test before the major construction of the Stari Most began. The Old Bridge was completed in 1566 and was hailed as one of the greatest architectural achievement in the Ottoman controlled Balkans. This single-arch stone bridge is an exact replica of the original bridge that stood for over 400 years and that was designed by Hajrudin, a student of the great Ottoman architect Sinan. It spans 28.7 metres (94 feet) of the Neretva river, 21 metres (69 feet) above the summer water level. The Halebija and Tara towers have always housed the guardians of the bridge and during Ottoman times were also used as storehouses for ammunition. The arch is a perfect semicircle 8.56 metres (28.1 feet) in width and 4.15 metres (13.6 feet) in height. The frontage and vault are made of regular stone cubes incorporated into the horizontal layers all along the vault. The space between vault, frontal walls and footpath is filled with cracked stone. The bridge footpath and the approaching roads are paved with cobblestones, as is the case with the main roads in the town. Stone steps enable people to ascend to the bridge either side. During the armed conflict between Bosniaks and Bosnian Croats in the Bosnian War in the 1990s, the bridge was destroyed by the HVO (Croatian Defence Council).[37]

The Cejvan Cehaj Mosque, built in 1552, is the oldest mosque in Mostar. Later a madrasa (Islamic school) was built on the same compound. The Old Bazaar, Kujundziluk is named after the goldsmiths who traditionally created and sold their wares on this street, and still sells authentic paintings and copper or bronze carvings of the Stari Most, pomegranates (the natural symbol of Herzegovina) or the ste?aks (medieval tombstones).

The Koski Mehmed Pa?a Mosque, built in 1617 is open to visitors. Visitors may enter the mosque and take photos free of charge. The minaret is also open to the public and is accessible from inside the mosque. Just around the corner from the mosque is the Tepa Market. This has been a busy marketplace since Ottoman times. It now sells mostly fresh produce grown in Herzegovina and, when in season, the figs and pomegranates are extremely popular. Local honey is also a prominent specialty, being produced all around Herzegovina.


First Croatian printing office in Mostar, 1920

Dani Matice Hrvatske is one of city's significant cultural events and it is commonly sponsored by the Croatian Government and the Government of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Mostar Summer is another umbrella event which includes ?anti? Poetry Evenings, Mostar Summer Festival and Festival of Bosnia and Herzegovina choirs/ensembles. The city is a home of music festival called Melodije Mostara (Mostar Melodies) which has been held annually since 1995. Theatre festivals include Mostarska Liska (organized by the National Theatre Mostar) and The Mostar Spring (organized by the Matica hrvatska Mostar).[38][39]

Mostar Art institutions include:

Mostar cuisine is balanced between Western and Eastern influences. Traditional Mostar food is closely related to Turkish, Middle Eastern and other Mediterranean cuisines. However, due to years of Austrian rule and influence, there are also many culinary influences from Central Europe.[40][41] Some of the dishes include ?evap?i?i, burek, sarma, japrak, musaka, dolma, sujuk, sa?, ?uve?, and satara?. Local desserts include baklava, hurma?ice, sutlija?, tulumbe, tufahije, and ?ampita.


Aluminij factory

Mostar's economy relies heavily on the aluminium and metal industry, banking services and the telecommunication sector.[] The city is home of some of the country's largest corporations.

Along with Sarajevo and Banja Luka, it is the largest financial center in Bosnia and Herzegovina. One of three largest banks in the country has its headquarters in Mostar.[42][43] Bosnia and Herzegovina has three national electric, postal and telecommunication service corporations; the seat of one per each group is placed in Mostar (electric utility provider Elektroprivreda HZHB, postal service company Hrvatska po?ta Mostar and HT Eronet, the third largest telecommunication company in the country). These three companies (along with banks and aluminium factory) make a vast portion of overall economic activity in the city.[]

Prior to the 1992-1995 Bosnian War, Mostar relied on other important companies which had been closed, damaged or downsized. They included SOKO (military aircraft factory), Fabrika duhana Mostar (tobacco industry), and Hepok (food industry). In 1981, Mostar's GDP per capita was 103% of the Yugoslav average.[44]

Aluminum manufacturing company Aluminij Mostar is the sole remaining large company that was prominent during the former Yugoslavia. It is one of the country's largest exporter companies and it has a number of international partners. It is one of the most influential companies in the region as well. The city of Mostar alone has direct income of EUR40 million annually from Aluminij.[]

Considering the fact that three dams are situated on the city of Mostar's territory, the city has a solid base for further development of production. There is also an ongoing project for the possible use of wind power and building of windmills. The private sector has seen a notable increase in small and medium enterprises over the past couple of years contributing to the positive business climate.[]

Mostar also hosts the annual International Economic Fair Mostar ("Me?unarodni sajam gospodarstva Mostar")[45] which was first held in 1997.


In 2013 the city of Mostar had a total population of 105,797 according to the census results.

Ethnic groups

Its population consists of the following ethnic groups: Croats (48.4%); Bosniaks (44.1%) and Serbs (4.1%). The city of Mostar has the largest population of Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina. As in many other cities, its demographic profile was significantly altered after the Bosnian War; in case of Mostar, most of the Serbs left or were forced out of the city.

According to the official data of the local elections of 2008, among 6 city election districts, three western ones (Croat-majority) had 53,917 registered voters, and those three on the east (Bosniak-majority) had 34,712 voters.[46]

The ethnic composition of the city of Mostar:

Ethnic group Population
Croats 27,265 32,782 36,927 43,037 51,216
Bosniaks/Muslims 10,513 33,645 34,247 43,856 46,752
Serbs 21,220 19,076 20,271 23,846 4,421
Yugoslavs 12,181 2,329 17,143 12,768 -
Others 1,274 1,748 1,789 3,121 3,408
Total 72,453 89,580 110,377 126,628 105,797

Settlements and neighborhoods

The City of Mostar (aside from city proper) includes the following settlements:

After the Bosnian War, following the Dayton Agreement, the villages of Kamena, Kokorina and Zijemlje were separated from Mostar to form the new municipality of Isto?ni Mostar (East Mostar), in the Republika Srpska.


Mostar, and Herzegovina area in general, experience a modified Humid subtropical climate (Cfa) under the Köppen Climate Classification, with cold, humid winters and hot, drier summers.[51] In the summer months, occasional temperatures above 40 °C (104 °F) are not uncommon, with a record temperature of 46.2 °C (115.2 °F).[52] The coldest month is January, averaging about 5 °C (41 °F), and the warmest month is July, averaging about 26 °C (78 °F). The sunniest months are between June and September. The remainder of the year is wet and mild.[53] Mostar is the sunniest city in the country with an average of 2291 solar hours a year.[54] Snow is relatively rare and it usually melts within a few hours or days.

During the 2012 European cold wave, Mostar experienced unusually cold weather with freezing temperatures lasting for days and a record snow depth of 82.5 cm (32 in).[55]

Climate data for Mostar (1961-1990, extremes 1949-present)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 18.2
Average high °C (°F) 8.3
Daily mean °C (°F) 4.8
Average low °C (°F) 1.9
Record low °C (°F) -10.9
Average precipitation mm (inches) 164.7
Average precipitation days 12.5 12.1 12.4 13.0 12.3 11.6 7.4 7.4 8.2 10.3 13.4 13.1 133.8
Average snowy days 2.9 1.5 0.6 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.1 1.2 6.3
Average relative humidity (%) 65.9 63.3 61.0 61.8 62.7 61.2 52.7 53.7 60.1 65.2 69.3 67.4 62.0
Mean monthly sunshine hours 109.3 117.5 155.3 173.9 222.7 252.1 322.8 296.2 230.7 186.8 116.6 102.8 2,286.5
Source: Meteorological Institute of Bosnia and Herzegovina[56][57]


Panoramic view of Mostar

The City of Mostar has the status of a municipality. The city government is led by the mayor - since 15 February 2021 Mario Kordi? (HDZ BiH).

Interim Statute (1996-2004)

International reconstruction efforts aimed at the reunification of the divided city. The February 1996 Mostar Agreement led to the adoption of the Interim Statute of the city the same month, and to a 1-year period of EU Administration of Mostar (EUAM), headed by former Bremen mayor Hans Koschnick, till early 1997.[34]

The Interim Statute introduced a Yugoslav-style two-level of administration, with a City level with its own council and mayor (with two deputies) and six municipalities, each with its own administration and council, reflecting the wartime division: three in the Croat-majority West Mostar, and three in the Bosniak-majority East Mostar. A tiny "Central Zone" strip (not a municipality) was to host the rebuilt institutions of the city and, according to the original plans, also of the Federation entity. Mostar citizens would cast three votes: the first two for the City council's 48 members (half from a city-wide lift and half from candidates in each municipality, 4 each), and the third to elect the members of the councils of the six municipalities. Ethnic quotas and veto rights were to prevent any domination.[21]:4

2004 Statute

After six years of implementation, in 2003 OHR Paddy Ashdown established an "international commission for reforming Mostar", whose final report noted how the HDZ/SDA power-sharing in Mostar had entrenched division and corruption, with "rampant parallelism" in administrative structures and usurpation of power by the municipalities over the City.[21]:5 The Mostar Commission, headed by another former German mayor, Norbert Winterstein, gathered members of all Mostar parties with the overarching aim of reuniting the city. A new Statute was negotiated, although few points of contention remained. Finally, in February 2004 OHR Paddy Ashdown imposed via its Bonn Powers the new City Statute and related amendments to the BiH Election Law and cantonal and Federation Constitutions. The 2004 Statute abolished the six municipalities and created a unified City administration with a single budget and one Mayor of Mostar, with no deputies. Ethnic quotas in the City council were replaced by minimum/maximum thresholds; 17 councillors would now be elected from a city-wide list, and 18 from the territories of the six former municipalities, now "city areas", which retained a single residual competence on "the distribution of revenues deriving from allocated construction land", managed by city area "commissions" formed by the 3 city councillors elected in each one. The "central zone" remained outside any city area, and its residents were only entitled to vote for the city-wide list.[21]:6

According to the City Statute, imposed by High Representative Paddy Ashdown on 28 January 2004 after local politicians failed to reach an agreement, the mayor of Mostar has to be elected by the city council with a two-thirds majority.[58][59] Ashdown abolished the six municipalities that were divided equally among Bosniaks and Croats and replaced them with six electoral units,[60] ridding Mostar of duplicate institutions and costs.[61] In the process Ashdown also reduced the number of elected officials from 194 to 35.[60] According to the City Statute, the constituent peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Bosniaks, Croats, and Serbs) are guaranteed a minimum of four seats and a maximum of 15 seats.[60] 18 councillors are elected by election units (3 councillors from each of the 6 districts) and 15 councillors from a city-wide list.[59] This move was opposed by the Party of Democratic Action (SDA) and the Croatian Democratic Union of Bosnia and Herzegovina (HDZ BiH).[60]

2008 elections

On the basis of the 2008 election, the City Council was composed by 35 councillors from the following parties:

Relative winners were SDA with the greatest number of votes. However, neither party had enough votes to ensure election of the mayor from their party. The City council met 16 times without success. Eventually OHR was involved and High Representative made some minor changes to the City Statute. After that Ljubo Be?li? (HDZ BiH) was reelected as a mayor.

2010 Constitutional Court ruling

Following an appeal by HDZ BiH, in November 2010 the Constitutional Court found the electoral framework for Mostar (2004 Statute) to be discriminatory and unconstitutional.[62] Among other things, the Constitutional Court noted that the votes of Mostar residents did not count the same, as the six electoral zones all elected 3 councillors despite their different population (with the smallest having 4 times fewer residents than the largest); and that the voters from the "central zone" counted less, as they only elected representatives from the city-wide list and not from any of the electoral zones. The Court annulled the relevant provisions of the Election Law of BiH and of the 2004 Statute, and ordered the Parliamentary Assembly of BiH and the Mostar city assembly to revise them within six months.[21]:6 Yet, the Bosniak and Croat ruling parties did not get to a compromise.

Interim administration (2012-2020)

In the absence of a legal basis, local elections could not take place in Mostar in 2012 and 2016. The mandate of the City council also expired in 2012. Be?li? thus remained as acting mayor for eight additional years, during which he affirmed that he considered resigning multiple times,[63] also due to his deteriorating health.[64] During this time, he shared the administrative duties with Izet ?ahovi?, head of the Mostar City's Finance Department, a bureaucrat and member of the Bosniak Party of Democratic Action (SDA). For two full mandates, Be?li? and ?ahovi? have decided together how to disburse Mostar's yearly 30 million euro budget, without any legislative oversight or public transparency. The situation has been denounced by multiple NGOs, which have pointed at the SDA-HDZ power-sharing as the source of the mal-administration of Mostar and the recurrent problems with trash collection, water treatment, and continued ethnic duplication of the city services.[64]

During this period, several rounds of talks were held with international facilitation. Between October 2012 and May 2013 Deputy High Representative Roderick W. Moore launched an 8-months mediation effort that produced a compromise framework aimed at merging the city areas (and central zone) into multi-ethnic voting districts. This was endorsed by the Peace Implementation Council's Steering Board (PIC SB). Yet, the proposal found no political support when it was submitted by Moore's successor Tamir G. Waser in July 2014 to the BiH Parliament. A second mediation attempt led by US and UK ambassadors to BiH, Maureen Cormack and Edward Ferguson, and based on a model with a single city-wide electoral district, also failed [in 2017]. In 2018, the two main parties HDZ BiH and SDA autonomously negotiated a compromise solution, based only on a formula for the election of the councillors from each city area along the "one man, one vote" principle, which would be later taken up in the June 2020 agreement.[21]:6

In October 2019, the European Court of Human Rights ruled against Bosnia and Herzegovina in the case brought by Irma Baralija on the absence of electoral rights for the residents of Mostar.[65] In July 2020, the Parliament of Bosnia and Herzegovina amended the electoral law to allow for local elections in Mostar to be held in December 2020.[66][35][36]

2020 elections

Following the election on 20 December 2020, the 35 members of the new City Council include:[67]

Former mayors of the City of Mostar


# Portrait Name Term of Office Party
1 President Ismail and members Muhamed, Ahmed, Hur?id, Javer, Jure, Ivan, Lazar 1871 1878
2 Muhamed-beg Alajbegovi?
(Deputy: Bla?ko Zelenika)
6 August 1878 May 1890
3 Ibrahim-beg Kapetanovi? January 1890 6 January 1897
4 Ahmet-beg Had?iomerovi? June 1897 December 1907
5 Mustafa Mujaga Komadina 1909 2 November 1918
6 Smail-aga ?emalovi? 1919 1929
7 Ibrahim Feji?
(Sub-mayors: Ljubo Krulj and Vlatko Tambi?)
1929 1934
8 Muhamed Rid?anovi? 1935 1935
9 Husaga ?i?i? 1935 1940
10 Husein Metiljevi? 1940 1941
11 ?efkija Bali? 1941 1941
12 Muhamed Butum 1941 1942
13 Salih Efica "Crni" 1942 1945
14 Salko Feji? 1945 1946
15 Vilko ?natinger 1946 1947
16 Manojlo ?abak 1947 1949
17 Mustafa Sefo 1949 March 1958
18 Vaso Ga?i? August 1958 October 1961
19 Du?an Vukojevi? October 1961 February 1963
20 Muhamed Mirica November 1963 May 1967
21 Avdo Zvoni? May 1967 May 1969
22 Radmilo - Braca Andri? May 1969 May 1974
23 Izet Brkovi? May 1974 June 1976
24 D?evad Dervi?kadi? June 1976 April 1982
25 Vlado Smoljan April 1982 July 1983
26 Nikola Ga?i? July 1983 July 1985
27 Damjan Rotim July 1985 April 1986
28 Nijaz Topuzovi? "Toza" April 1986 April 1988
29 Jovo Popara 14 December 1988 14 December 1990
30 Milivoj Gagro 14 December 1990 1992 HDZ BiH
31 Mijo Brajkovi?
Safet Oru?evi?
1992 1996 HDZ BiH
32 Ivan Prskalo
Deputy: Safet Oru?evi?
1996 2000 HDZ BiH
33 Neven Tomi?
Deputy: Hamdija Jahi?
2000 December 2004 HDZ BiH
34 Ljubo Be?li?
Deputy: Hamdija Jahi?
December 2004 18 December 2009 HDZ BiH
35 Ljubo Be?li? 18 December 2009 15 February 2021 HDZ BiH
36 Mario Kordi?[69] 15 February 2021 Incumbent HDZ BiH


Gymnasium Mostar (built 1898-1902) within United World College

Mostar has a number of various educational institutions. These include University of Mostar, University D?emal Bijedi? of Mostar, United World College in Mostar, nineteen high-schools and twenty four elementary schools.[70] High-schools include sixteen vocational schools and three gymnasiums.[71]

All public schools in Mostar, both elementary and secondary education, are divided between Croat curriculum and Federal (unofficially Bosniak) curriculum schools. This ethnic division of schools was emplaced during the very first year of the Bosnian war and it continues, with some modifications, to this day. Today, the schools in Mostar and throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina are a site of struggle between ethno-national political elites[72] in ways that reveals the precarious position of youth in the volatile nation building processes[73] A partial exception to divided education is Gimnazija Mostar (also known as "Stara gimnazija") that implemented joint school administration and some joint student courses. However, Croat and Bosniak students in Gimnazija Mostar continue to have most courses according to the "national" curriculum, among them the so-called national subjects - history, literature, geography, and religion.[74]

The country's higher education reform and the signing of the Bologna Process have forced both universities to put aside their rivalry to some extent and try to make themselves more competitive on a regional level.[]

University of Mostar is the second largest university in the country and the only Croatian language university in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was founded in 1977 as the University "D?emal Bijedi?" of Mostar, but changed name in 1992. The origin of the university can be traced back to the Herzegovina Franciscan Theological School, which was founded in 1895 and closed in 1945, was the first higher education institution in Mostar.[75] Today's University seal shows the building of the Franciscan Monastery.

University D?emal Bijedi? of Mostar was founded in 1993. It employs around 250 professors and staff members. According to the Federal Office of Statistics, D?emal Bijedi? University had 2,522 students enrolled during the 2012/2013 academic year.[76]

As of 2015 school year, the University of Mostar had 10,712 students enrolled at eleven faculties making it the largest university in the city.[76] Cumulatively, it has been attended by more than 40,000 students since the start of the Bologna process of education.


One of the most popular sports in Mostar is football. The two most successful teams are H?K Zrinjski and FK Vele?. FK Vele? won the Yugoslav Cup in 1981 and in 1986, which was one of the most significant accomplishments this club has achieved. Since the Bosnian War, each club has generally been supported by a particular ethnic group (Vele? for the Bosniaks and Zrinjski for the Croats). The matches between the two clubs are some of the country's most intense matches. Since the start of the Premier League of Bosnia and Herzegovina, H?K Zrinjski has won six championships.

In basketball, HKK Zrinjski Mostar competes at the nation's highest level while the Zrinjski banner also represents the city in the top handball league. Vahid Halilhod?i?, a former Bosnian football player and current manager of the Morocco national football team, started his professional career in FK Vele? Mostar.[77]

In 2011, rugby union football club RK Herceg was founded. The club competes in national leagues within Bosnia & Herzegovina and in the regional league Adria Sevens.

Another popular sport in Mostar is swimming. There are three swimming teams in Mostar: PK Vele?, KVS Orka and APK Zrinjski. The best Bosnian swimmer, Amina Kajtaz, is from Mostar. Mostar has plenty of talented swimmers despite having just one 25 meter pool and one 12.5 meter pool.


Mostar is an important tourist destination in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Mostar Airport serves the city as well as the railway and bus stations which connect it to a number of national and international destinations. Mostar's old town is an important tourist destination with the Stari Most being its most recognizable feature.

Some noteworthy sites include Bishop's Ordinariate building, the remains of an early Christian basilica at Cim, a hamam (Ottoman public bath), clock tower (sahat-kula), Synagogue (1889) and Jewish Memorial Cemetery, Nesuh-aga Vu?jakovi? Mosque, Had?i-Kurt Mosque or Taba?ica, Metropolitan's Palace (1908), Karagöz Bey Mosque (1557), Cathedral of the Holy Trinity (1873), Catholic Church and Franciscan Monastery,[78] Ottoman Residences (16th-19th century), Crooked Bridge, Tara and Halebija Towers.[79]

The World War II Partisan Memorial Cemetery in Mostar, designed by the architect Bogdan Bogdanovi?, is another important symbol of the city. Its sacrosanct quality is derived from the unity of nature (water and greenery) with the architectural expression of the designer; the monument was inscribed on the list of National Monuments in 2006.[80]

The Catholic pilgrimage site of Me?ugorje is also nearby as well as the Tekija Dervish Monastery in Blagaj, 13th-century town of Po?itelj, Blagaj Fortress (Stjepan-grad), Kravica waterfall, seaside town of Neum, Roman villa rustica from the early fourth century Mogorjelo, Stolac with its ste?ak necropolis and the remains of an ancient Greek town of Daorson. Nearby sites also include the nature park called Hutovo Blato, archeological site Desilo, Lake Bora?ko as well as Vjetrenica cave, the largest and most important cave in Bosnia and Herzegovina.[81]

Notable people

International relations

Mostar is twinned with:[82]

Twin towns--Sister cities

See also


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Further reading

External links

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