In the Middle Ages Mostar was only a small settlement with a wooden bridge connecting the banks of the Naretva river. It is believed that the name of the town comes from the word “mostari” meaning the bridge keepers. After Herzegovina came under Turkish rule in 1482 Mostar became the centre of Ottoman administrative and military rule. It also became an important trading partner of Dubrovnik and other coastal cities. The wooden bridge was replaced with the stone one (Old Bridge) in 1566 that became the symbol of Mostar for many years.
During the period of Austro-Hungarian rule (1878–1918) the railway was constructed, more schools and bridges were erected and the town expanded its road system. This added a “European touch” to this oriental town.
Due to the development of the aluminum industry and construction of the metal-working factory as well as cotton textile mills Mostar enjoyed great prosperity in the years leading up to the Balkan war.
During the battles of Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats against the Serbs and later Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats against each other in the 1990s Mostar suffered more destruction and damage than in any previous war. The Old Bridge was destroyed by the Croatian Defence Council in 1993. A project to rebuild it to the original design, and restore surrounding structures and historic neighbourhoods was initiated in 1999 and was mostly completed by Spring 2004.