The city of Mostar began to develop in the 14th century. Before the urban centre began to take shape, there were mediaeval fortifications and a chain bridge here: “duo castelli da Ponte” (1452) – the Nebojša fortress on the left bank and the Cim fortress on the right.
The Herzegovina sandžak was founded in early 1470. Some time before 1519 Mostar became an independent kadiluk. It became the headquarters of a mufti before 1592, the see of an Orthodox metropolitan in 1767, and the see of a Catholic bishop in the mid 19th century. The town saw its most significant development in the 16th century, when its major buildings were erected as vakufs, legally established pious perpetual foundations. More than 300 deeds of pious endowment were signed for Mostar in the 16th century. The principal legators were Zaim hajji Mehmed-bey (Karađoz-begy), Ćejvan-ćehaja and Nesuh-aga Vučijaković. By the 17th century, 32 mahalas or residential quarters had been established in Mostar and 37 mosques built, along with a musala, three tekkes (Sufi lodges), two Orthodox and a Catholic church, two mains water pipes, sixty public fountains, twelve hans (hostelries), two hamamas, nine medresas (Islamic high schools), and 14 mektebs (Islamic primary schools).
The development of the town continued after the establishment of Austro-Hungarian rule. Many buildings in the historicist manner were erected. Of particular interest is the pseudo-Moorish style, used for the Grammar School, the Neretva Hotel, the public baths in Musala, and the Synagogue. The 19th century saw the erection of the monumental Orthodox cathedral church in 1873, the Catholic bishop’s palace in 1847 and the Catholic cathedral in 1866, along with many schools, mansions and public and government buildings.
The steady development of Mostar continued until the late 20th century. In the second half of the 20th century Mostar was the centre of one of the five economic regions of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and some important institutions were established there: the Archives of Herzegovina, the Museum of Herzegovina, the Regional Institute for the Protection of the Cultural and Natural Heritage, a university, a clinical centre, a theatre and the complex of the memorial to the victims of the antifascist war – the Partisans’ cemetery – among them. Despite the fact that during the modernist period in the 1950s eleven mosques, several medresas and mektebs and numerous burial grounds were demolished, the historic centre retained a high degree of authenticity and integrity. Between 1992 and 1996 almost all the city’s major buildings were destroyed or badly damaged, including the Old Bridge, the čaršija (commercial centre), mosques, the Orthodox church, schools and hotels. The reconstruction of Mostar began in 1998 with the full involvement of the international community, and is still on-going.