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When hasty and unregulated development in the aftermath of the 1993 war threatened the historic character of Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina, a joint programme was established in 1999 by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture and the World Monuments Fund to create a framework for the reconstruction of the city’s historic core. The main aims of the programme were to complement the reconstruction of the Old Bridge (undertaken by the World Bank and others) by revitalising the historic areas on both sides of the bridge. At the same time, as with all AKTC projects, the work was intended to increase the economic potential of the city which, at the time, was seen to lie in tourism.


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Resurgence of Mostar’s Historic City Centre: New Agency for Conservation and Development to Build on Completed Projects (Media Advisory)
23 July 2004 - In tandem with the opening of Mostar’s reconstructed Old Bridge, city officials and representatives of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) and the World Monuments Fund (WMF) will inaugurate a wide range of projects that include urban planning, the restoration of monuments, the improvement of historic houses and streetscape enhancements.

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In 1999, AKTC/WMF published a priority list of 15 buildings in the central historic district that would be pivotal to the city’s economic and cultural recovery. Five of the buildings were restored, with AKTC and WMC investing nearly US$5 million, and another three were to be completed and returned to use with a US$ 2.2 commitment of funds from the World Bank.

In May 2001, a plan developed with AKTC/WMF support for the “Conservation and Development Plan for the Old Town” was adopted by city authorities. It was intended to ensure that the historic character of Mostar was preserved during rehabilitation and development.

Working with the Mayor of Mostar in 2004, AKTC/WMC helped establish an agency to guide future conservation and development projects in the city. The Stari grad agency was the product of a five-year collaborative effort between AKTC, WMF and the city of Mostar to plan for the preservation of the city’s architecturally important historic core. The agency was to play an important role in overseeing future development within the historic city, and implementing its “Conservation and Development Plan for the Old Town.”

In addition to planning for the city’s future, training a new generation of conservation professionals, and advocating the restoration of these key buildings, AKTC/WMF have invested funds in the restoration of typical Ottoman buildings and urban fabric, such as paving and landscaping, around the historic Old Bridge. Rent and other revenues from the renovated buildings provide income for the Stari grad Agency, according to an agreement with the Municipality.

Proposals and design plans for the buildings on the AKTC/WMF priority list are published in: Reclaiming Historic Mostar, Opportunities for Revitalisation, published in 1999 and available by request from AKTC or WMC. To order, please send us an e-mail.

Conservation and Revitalisation of Historic Mostar, a brochure published by AKTC, is available as a PDF on-line (English, 2.91MB).

Conservation of Mostar Old Town, Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina (1986)Conservation of Mostar Old Town, Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina (1986)Bosnia Recipients of the Aga Khan Awards for Architecture
Conservation of Mostar Old Town, Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina (1986)
By the 1960s, the 16th-century historical core of the town of Mostar was physically deteriorated and commercially stagnant. It has since become revitalised and reactivated as a thriving business centre. Stari-Grad, the agency in charge of this restoration project, is a semi-autonomous organisation approved and subsidised by the Ministry for the Protection of Monuments and Nature of the Republic of Herzegovina in Sarajevo. Beginning in 1977, Stari-Grad spent three years documenting the historic centre. Subsequently it has undertaken the restoration of the river embankments, a 16th century Ottoman tower and bridge, a 17th-century clock tower, two mosques, a madrasa, private houses, a tannery and shops that date back to the 18th-and-19th centuries. The jury noted that the rehabilitation of this wide variety of building types "has been handled in an exemplary manner. All the restorations fit well into the general atmosphere of the old town and its homogeneous appearance is not disturbed; nothing is overdone or touristic."
Find out more on Conservation of Mostar Old Town

Sherefudin's White Mosque, Visoko, Bosnia-Herzegovina (1983)Sherefudin's White Mosque, Visoko, Bosnia-Herzegovina (1983)
The White Mosque serves as the religious and intellectual centre for the community. Its geometrically simple plan encloses a complex, slope-ceilinged, sky-lit volume, pure, abstract, sparsely ornamented and painted white. The archetypal Bosnian mosque has a simple square plan crowned by a cupola and entered by means of a small porch. The White Mosque's plan conforms to the archetype, but its roof is a freely deformed quarter of a cupola, pierced by five skylights, themselves composed of segments of quarter cupolas. The effect is one of confrontation between the elementary plan and the sophisticated hierarchy of roof cones. The principal symbolic elements, mihrab, minbar, minaret and fountains, have a fresh folk art character subtly enhanced by the avant-garde geometries of their setting. Commending the mosque for its "boldness, creativity and brilliance," the jury found it "full of originality and innovation (though with an undeniable debt to Ronchamp), laden with the architect's thought and spirit, shared richly with the community, and connecting with the future and the past."
Find out more on Sherefudin's White Mosque

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