THE CULTURES OF MOSTAR
These are few highlights from the article which deals with cultural aspects of the history of Mostar from its beginnings to the recent times.
In all probability, Mostar was a gem of the Levant civilization until its very distraction. The origin of its ancient culture reaches back to Hellenistic times, when urban life was developed in the enormous area due to a syncretism of that extraordinary Mediterranean history which combined various influences and, at the same time, left the main contours of life unchanged. Owing to the long duration of the Byzantine Empire and especially to the appearance of the Ottoman Turks, South-Eastern Europe joined the Levant civilization, at least when urban life is concerned. Turks marked the urban culture of the Balkans by erecting commemorative buildings for the public benefit. They were made of solid material and artistically shaped, unlike the ordinary people's houses or even rich people's sarajs, whose construction and materials mirrored a melancholic vision of the temporaries of human life and affairs.
The founding of Mostar (in the first halt' of the 15th century) is closely associated with the name of Stjepan Vukcic, known as the duke (herzeg) of St. Sava. The city remained Serbian property only for few decades, probably until 1468, when the Turks occupied a major part of Herzegovina. However, its Serbian name prevailed over the Turkish (Kopruhisar). From the very beginnings of the Turkish rule, Mostar was the most salient military strongpoint towards the middle Adriatic, but at the same time, owing to its position and population it became an important market town and craft industry centre. According to the first Turkish census of Herzegovina (1468-fig) the area of Mostar was entirely Christian. The census of 1519 registered 73 Christian and only 19 Muslim families. In spite of the arrival of Turks, Mostar continued to flourish: the city on the river attracted travelers, armies and new inhabitants. The famous Stone Bridge, built in the years marked by the culmination of the Turkish power (1566-67), combined the Oriental sense of grace and measure with the architecture of the Serbian medieval memorials known for its perennial beauty. In the autumn of 1993, the bridge was destroyed in the clashes of Croats and Muslims over the division of the town. Remembering the massacres during the Second World War, the Serbian citizens of Mostar abandoned the town, living their properties, their deals and a half-century of their history behind.