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Mostar is a city and municipality in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the biggest and the most important city in the Herzegovina region and the center of the Herzegovina-Neretva Canton of the Federation. Mostar is situated on the Neretva river and is the fifth-largest city in the country. Mostar was named after "the bridge keepers" who guarded the Stari Most over Neretva river. The Old Bridge was rebuilt in 2004 and it is one of the city's most recognizable landmarks

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 late medieval county of Večenike covered the site of the present-day Mostar along the right bank of the Neretva: Zahum, Cim, Ilići, Hraštani and Vojno. It was at the center of this area, which in 1408 belonged to the Radivojević's , that Cim fort was built (prior to 1443). Mostar is indirectly referred to in a charter of King Alfonso V of Aragon dating from 1454 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.[1] The earliest documentary reference to Mostar as a settlement dates from April 3, 1452, when natives of Dubrovnik wrote to their fellow countrymen in the service of Đorđe Branković to say that Vladislav Hercegović had turned against his father and occupied the town called Blagaj and other places, including “Duo Castelli al ponte de Neretua.”.[2]

In 1468 Mostar came under Ottoman rule[2] and the urbanization of the settlement began. 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. In 1468 Mostar acquired the name Köprühisar, meaning fortress at the bridge, at the centre of which was a cluster of 15 houses.[3] In the late 16th century, Mostar was the chief administrative city for the Ottoman Empire in the Herzegovina region. The city's symbol, the "Old Bridge" (Stari Most) is one of the most important structures of the Ottoman era and was built by Mimar Hayrudin, a student of the famous Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan.

The Austro-Hungarian Empire absorbed Mostar in 1878 and it ruled there until the aftermath of World War I in 1918. The first church in the city of Mostar, a Serbian Christian-Orthodox Church, was built during the Austro-Hungarian rule. In 1881 the town became the seat of the Bishopric of Mostar-Duvno and in 1939, it became a part of the Banovina of Croatia. During World War II Mostar was also an important city in the Independent State of Croatia.

After the World War II, Mostar developed a production of plastics (fundamentally used in toilet seats) tobacco, bauxite, wine, aircraft and aluminium products. 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 1992 and 1993, after Bosnia and Herzegovina declared independence from Yugoslavia, the town was subject to an 18 month siege. The Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) first bombed Mostar on April 3, 1992 and over the following week gradually established control over a large part of the town. By June 12, 1992 the Croatian Defence Council (HVO) amassed enough strength to force the JNA out of Mostar. The JNA responded with shelling. Amongst the monuments destroyed were a Franciscan monastery, the Catholic cathedral and the bishop's palace (with a library of 50,000 books), a number of secular institutions as well as the Karadžoz-bey mosque, and thirteen other mosques.

In mid June 1992, after the battle line moved eastward, the HVO demolished the Serbian Orthodox Žitomislić Monastery as well as the Saborna Crkva (Orthodox Cathedral Church) that was built in 1863-1873. During the Bosnian War of 1992-95, the Serb Orthodox Cathedral of the Holy Trinity (Serbian: Саборна црква Св. Тројице) and the Church of the Birth of the Most Holy Virgin (Црква Рођења Пресвете Богородице), both dating to the mid 19th century, were demolished by the HVO.[4][5] The cathedral was also known as the New Orthodox Church (Нова православна црква), while the latter was known as the Old Orthodox Church (Стара православна црква). According to the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Nikola Špirić, the reconstruction of the cathedral is due to begin in Spring 2008, and will be funded by Prince Charles.[6]

On November 18, 1991, the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) branch in Bosnia and Herzegovina, proclaimed the existence of the Croatian Republic of Herzeg-Bosnia, as a separate "political, cultural, economic and territorial whole," on the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Mostar was divided into a Western part, which was dominated by the Croat forces and an Eastern part where the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina was largely concentrated. After the war, the ICTY accused the Croatian Republic of Herzeg-Bosnia leadership for the crimes against humanity and other war crimes during the war, including the destruction of the Stari Most bridge.

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Additional Photos by Murat Duzyol (muratd) Silver Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 34 W: 13 N: 136] (4978)
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