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2.3 Bridge Description

Many descriptions of the bridge are available and have been published with technical notes, like dimensions and main characteristics of the monument, but, quite often, it happens to find inaccuracies in these presentations that, anyhow, are neither exhaustive nor technical to represent correctly the bridge as it was. An accurate description of the structure and of the site is necessary and desirable to allow also a complete understanding of the technical issues that have been analysed in this report.

Here next, in the following paragraphs, general notes are given as introduction to the ancient monument main typological peculiarities: for a more detailed analysis about the technical constructive methods refer to chapter 9 of this report.


2.3.1 The site and the Neretva river

The site, where the Old Bridge of Mostar was located, is in the most ancient core of the town, and on both banks of the river there are ancient stone buildings in the typical architecture style of the place, influenced by the Ottomans. The river Neretva is quite lower than the adjacent streets leading to the bridge, being the average river level at m.42 (a.s.l.), the average riverbed level at m.38 (a.s.l.) and the average street level at m.55 (a.s.l.). River banks, composed of natural conglomerate rocks, are quite steep: this happen mostly on the east side, where masonry stone walls of the buildings and rocks, (on which they are founded), make a sort of vertical barrier to the river flows.

fig01 - view of the east bank (on the right side the bridge remnants)

The river Neretva runs from north to south and, 100-150 metres before the bridge site, the riverbed gets suddenly smaller and makes a turn which leads the flows more towards the east bank.

fig02 - aerial view of the site (north side towards the top)

Most probably the site for the bridge has been chosen, in the ancient times, because it was the most narrow point in the area where it was possible to cross the river, and because of the high and stable rocks located on both banks. But being, in that spot, the riverbed of smaller size, like in a funnel, the flows get faster, stronger and higher, enough to cause frequent damages to the abutment walls and to threaten with the buildings at the street level. This is the reason why the old bridge steep flooring, (about 20%), was higher than the adjacent streets level: to avoid river water thrust during the floods.

fig03 - aerial view of the site (east bank): one of the narrow street that leads to the bridge site

fig04 - view of the site towards the west bank

The accessibility to the site is quite limited by the narrow streets, (ulica Kujundziluk by the east side and ulica Oneskukova by the west side); residential buildings, being located by the river banks, have their entrance doors by the street side and do not even allow, close to the bridge, the visibility of the river and of the surroundings.

The river Neretva has got a torrential regime and its waters get easily and suddenly strong and high even during one single daytime. River water levels, anyhow are very much influenced by the seasons: during the dry season it is possible to see the rocks along both of the banks and to see the foundation levels of the abutment walls. While during floods the river may reach very high levels, and even in recent times, it has been possible to observe the river so high to cause damages to the houses located by the banks. In January 2000 a flood caused the collapse of the temporary gangway, (footpath), located approximately at the adjacent streets level, and many other damages, (among which the collapse of the Kriva Kuprija bridge).

The riverbed, immediately after the Old Bridge crossing spot, gets much wider and the Neretva receives its tributary: the river Radobolja; moreover, many other small rivulets fall in the Neretva along the site mostly from the west side before the bridge.

Here next a small cadastral map of the area is included, but for a better view of the site it is suggested to refer to design drawing CU-01.


fig05 - cadastral map of the site (north side towards the top)

In the spot where the bridge used to cross the river, founded over the rocks, two huge masonry structures rise: they are wedge shaped to face the river flows and they are supposed to work like a funnel. On the top of them there are located some small buildings, and other fortification structures, among which the two facing towers Halebija and Tara on the opposite banks, characterise the whole area with their peculiar shape, which is flat towards the river and round towards the territory.

fig06 - wedge shaped abutments of the bridge and fortification towers (left image: east abutment and Tara tower; right image: west abutment and Halebija tower).

The whole appear to be castled, narrow and perfectly inserted in the morphology of the site: masonry structures are not only founded over the rocks, but they are actually winding the ground and they prosecute, either upstream, either downstream, melting with the river-rocky-banks. At the top, the abutment walls, with no discontinuities and no decorative elements, sometime become the elevations of the residential buildings with small windows and with the typical stone roofs. Vegetation groves everywhere: rocks and walls are covered by green bushes and leaves: it is difficult to understand where the nature ends and the stone structure starts, being the walls built in tenelija stone and in natural conglomerate like the rocks.

fig07 – the Old Bridge of Mostar during one flood – presumably 1960 (south elev. and north elev.)

fig08 – gangway destroyed by one recent flood (Jan 2000) and another picture of the flood of the 1960 (presumably)


Intellectual property of this report and of the design drawings is owned by General Engineering s.r.l.

author of the text: arch. Manfredo Romeo – other contributes have been mentioned in related paragraphs

- General Engineering Workgroup -


Final Design Report

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