Constructed in 1566 during the Ottoman occupation on the sight of an earlier wooden bridge, the Old Bridge (Stari Most) in multi-cultural Mostar straddles the Neretva River; it was designed in a single stone span by Turkish architect Kodja Mimar Sinan and built by Mimar Hayruddin, who was threatened with execution by the Sultan if the bridge should collapse. Thankfully it stood the test of time until its destruction by shells during the Balkan Wars, but now once again soars over the river, 30 meters (98.5 feet) in length and standing 21 meters (69 feet) at its highest point. Today the Old Bridge is world famous for several reasons: it unites the city’s Muslim and Christian residents between the Ottoman left bank and the largely 19th-century Austro-Hungarian enclave on the right bank; it was blown apart in 1993 when the two communities of Mostar turned on each other; and yet has come to symbolize peace and reconciliation since its restoration – using the original white limestone dredged from the river – and reopening in 2004 with a reinforced metal framework. In summer the youth of Mostar use the UNESCO World Heritage-listed bridge as a diving platform in a spectacular display of foolhardy bravery; an annual diving competition is held in mid-August, watched by up to 15,000 spectators.
The bridge is open 24/7, there is no charge and it is best reached on foot through the Old Town.