The purpose of this chapter is fourfold: first, to describe the history of Mostar until recent times; secondly, to describe the events of the wartime; third, to describe the physical damage; and finally, to describe the origins and purpose of the European Union Administration. The author is not an expert on the history and politics of the area, and this account is cursory. Many books are available which treat these matters in depth, but it is probably helpful nonetheless for the general reader to have a short introduction.
Roman remains abound in west Hercegovina, and Christianisation was given impetus by the Council of Salona (now Solin, near Split) in 533, when the diocese of Sarsentium (perhaps at Cim, a suburb of Mostar) was founded. The leadership of the Church was taken by the Franciscans in the Middle Ages. Their position as defenders of the Christians was strengthened as a result of their persecution by the Ottomans in the sixteenth century. By this point, many local people had converted to the faith of the conquerors, and they naturally became a resented elite. This sort of long past conflict is once again much discussed, and now appropriated by politicians to define the identity of the group over which they wish to claim leadership. I was told by some people that the Bishopric was only revived in the early nineteenth century, and strengthened by the Austrians; the Franciscans had been closer to the people than the supposedly Hapsburg bishops, functioning as parish priests for centuries. Others dispute this interpretation, but in any event, there was an obvious running battle between the bishop and the monks, with the latter firmly committed to Croat nationalism.
When the Ottomans took over (1466 to 1468), the river Neretva was already bridged. The now famous Stari Most (Old Bridge) was built in 1566 by the architect Hajruddin, a pupil of Sinan. A typical Ottoman town emerged at this time on both banks of the river, with a bazaar, public baths, ham, thirty mosques, seven medreses, residential quarters or mahallas and fortifications.
From a peak around 1700, the slow decline of the town paralleled that of the Ottoman empire, until the Austro-Hungarians annexed Hercegovina on 5 August 1878. They brought new administrative and legal forms, new layout patterns with larger dimensions, new materials, eclecticism in design, newspapers, railways and