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NEWSLETTER 02 - 29.08.02

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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.

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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The technical meetings

Until the and of August we had ten official technical meetings. They are held mostly in Supervisors premises. The standard participants are:


- Technical Assistance


- Supervisor

- Contractor

If required, the guests in these meetings are also the experts from different areas (Power Plants, City Waters, etc), previous Contractors (General Engineering, LGA, etc) the subcontractors, and all other necessary persons and institutions.

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The scaffoldings

On 12.07.2002 we started with the erection of the scaffolding for the side walls. This scaffolding is necessary for the reparation works on these walls.

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the scaffolding on M5

We started with scaffolding on west downstream wall (M5c, M5b, M5a), the upstream wall on the same bank followed (M3b, M3a), then we crossed the river and finished the left bank M4 upstream wall. Now we are making the preparations to erect the scaffolding on the two remaining walls on the downstream east side (M6 and M9).

In the mean time, our workers started with cleaning of the joints on these walls. That item is very important for the injection works which will start soon. After this cleaning job, damaged stones will be repaired or changed for new ones if required, and then the joints will be re-pointed. When the surface of the walls is solid enough, the injection works will follow.

Drillings for the foundation of the crane

After determining the best possible position for placing the main crane, investigations of the soil under the foundations was made.

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drilling machine hole on the upper part of the rock
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So, four deep drills were made on spots were the crane foundations were supposed to be established. The approximate depth of the holes was 6 meters.

As the pictures are showing, the results of these tests were satisfying, the soil is strong enough, and the production of the foundations already started!

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On four concrete blocks, the wooden deck will be installed as the base for the trails of the crane POTAIN GMRT 486 A, with range 50m, max weight 1.3 tons at the end of the boom.

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Laboratory testing of the materials

As the preparations for bridge construction started, one of the first steps is to find and determine proper materials. They must fulfill many conditions: strenght, size, colour, chemical characterist, etc; if not the same - they must be as close as possible to the ones used on the Old Bridge.

At this moment tests of stones for masonry (breca, krecnjak, conglomerate), lime stone and sand are ongoing.

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Traditional 436. Dives from the Old Bridge

On Sunday, 24.08.2002, the 436. traditional dives from the Old Bridge were held. This Year 33 divers in ‘legs first’ and 14 in ‘head first’, took part in this competition. The winners are Ermin Zukanovic and Haris Dzemat, both from Mostar. The Constructer of the Reconstruction of the Old Bridge provided the platform for dives on it’s own expense.

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This NEWSLETTER was made in accordance with prevailing articles of the Contract No 002/2002 about the Rehabilitation of the Old Bridge, by ER-BU CONSTRUCTION / TURKEY

Paragraph concerning the site and the Neretva river is extracted from final architectural report - General Engineering

Intellectual property of final architectural report and of 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  - General Engineering


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GENERAL ENGINEERING - P.zzale Donatello 4 - 50132 Firenze - Italy - ph. +39 055 2345256 - fax. +39 055 2476074