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Mostar grew from a simple crossing point on the Neretva River to an important crossroads settlement and provincial capital in the Ottoman Empire. Ottoman governors liked to set their stamp on their cities through monumental architecture, usually grand mosques but in the case of Mostar, the Stari Most.

The Austria-Hungarians further developed Mostar with a planned city on the western banks where the Gymnasium and City Baths are good examples of their fine architecture.

During the 1980s Mostar became an important tourist attraction centred on the old bridge and the preserved Ottoman quarter. Visitors from all over Yugoslavia flocked here in summer, especially for the July diving competition.

Mostar suffered greatly during the inter-ethnic wars from 1992 to 1995 that resulted from the collapse of Yugoslavia. Initially a Serbian force shelled the city from the eastern hills killing thousands and forcing even more from their homes. Croats and Muslims combined to expel the Serbs but shortly afterwards became adversaries. The Croat forces took over the western bank expelling Muslims and the city became divided along the river.

The Stari Most was a favoured target for Croat artillery based in the western hills, and on November 9 1993 a direct hit collapsed the bridge into the river.

The Dayton Agreement established a unified city corporation, which concentrated on rebuilding the city centre and culminated in the reopening of the new Stari Most in July 2004.