Wooden or plank bridge was mentioned for the first time in 1452 in a report from Dubrovnik about a rebellion of Herceg Stjepan’s son, and about him taking few forts by force, including ‘duo castelli al ponte de Neretva. Since the bridge was often mentioned in documents, we can conclude that the bridge was built that year. It is believed that the peed (great lord/noble) of herzeg Stjepan Kosača, Radin built two forts on the both banks of the river. It is considered that the forts and the villages weren’t connected by the bridge and there is an assumption that the cargo was transported using the system similar to today’s ropeway (ski-lift)
For almost 100 years that wooden unsteady bridge was connected with two banks. The settlement became the part of the Ottoman Empire in 1468 and that wooden bridge helped Turkish invasion toward the west. Mostar was developing fast and soon, already in 16th century became the major settlement (town) in Herzegovina surpassing the medieval city of Blagaj.
The new bridge was built in 1566. According to the Turkish inscription which was on the bridge until it was demolished, the Construction of the bridge finished somewhere in between the July of 1566 and July of 1567. the date was also in the inscription consisting of 6 verses in Turkish, and where the last line had the chronograph ‘kudret Kemeri’ (thriumphal arch), every letter had it’s numerical value, and the sum of which was 976 (according to Hidžra)
The bridge was built by Hajrudin, student of famous Mimar Sinan. It’s interesting that the famous Turkish travel write Evlija Ćelebija considers Sinan to be builder, but Turkish historian Ahmed refik found the order in which it was written that Hajrudin, the one who built the bridge in Mostar, is to build the bridge in Makarska.
There are some legends about the Bridge. One of them says that Hajrudin wasn’t able to build the foundations for the bridge. Whatever would diligent laborers (workers) would built by day, Neretva would demolish by night. The legend says that Hajrudin was about to quit when the fairy from the mountain Velež appeared in his dream. She told him that the bridge would be able to build only if he walled in the foundation the most madly in love young couple in Mostar.
That story was used by many men who tired to charm their girlfriends showing them that the real love is the only reason why the bridge is able to stand 30 meters above the river.
The other legend says that Hajrudin never say the bridge. After nine years of exhausting work, he was afraid that the bridge would collapse after the wooden scaffolding were removed. So he head to Constantinople and order the support not to be removed until he was well away.
The bridge stayed in one peace, and Hajrudin went to Anadolia leaving behind the monument which will make Herzegovina famous around the world.
The bridge inspired many poets. A.Poullet was the first foreign author who mentioned the bridge (even before Evlija Ćelebija) and considered it to be more imposing than Rialt in Venice.
Englishman Gardner Wilkinson made first technical record in the 19th century, but claimed it was a Roman bridge.
Many others repeated that same thesis until Robert Michal defined it as Turkish. He claimed it was the most beautiful bridge in the world. He also wrote a sentence which was quoted many times after. He said that the bridge reminded him of a giant seagull petrified in the moment when the tip of its wing touched the coast of Neretva.
On the right bank there is detached fourth called halebija or halebinka, and forth Tara with the hexagonal citadel in the left bank.
Since 1680 till 1695 captain Halebija, reconstructed the forth and made residential place for the garrison.
Since 1690 till 1878 minor reconstructions were made and the bottom part of Halebija was a dungeon for a while.
At the end of 19th century fish market was built in the right bank and smaller stores on the left.
Mesdžid was rebuilt and the new business and residential objects were built.
During the Candian war the Venetian attacked Mostar 3 times but the bridge survived.
The arch of the bridge was made of local stone known as tenelija
The Stari Most is hump-backed, 4 metres (13 ft 1 in) wide and 30 metres (98 ft 5 in) long, and dominates the river from a height of 24 m (78 ft 9 in).
It is traditional for the young men of the town to jump from the bridge into the Neretva. As the Neretva is very cold, this is a very risky feat and only the most skilled and best trained divers attempt it. The practice dates back to the time the bridge was built, but the first recorded instance of someone diving off the bridge is from 1664. In 1968 a formal diving competition was inaugurated and held every summer. The first person to jump from the bridge since it was re-opened was Enej Kelecija, a local who now resides in the United States
The “Old Bridge” enhanced the town’s development and prosperity. It was its raison d’être.