Stari Most in the Bosnian city of Mostar has hosted regional diving competitions in the past, but on August 15 the bridge that crosses the river Neretva will welcome the elite of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series.
August takes the cliff diving elite to new ground in Mostar, where an annual bridge diving competition has been a tradition for many years. The humpback bridge in today's design was inaugurated with a diving exhibition in 2004 and will be the venue for a World Series competition for the first time this year.
Built in the 16th century, the iconic Stari Most, which means 'old bridge', gracefully arches over the emerald water of Neretva River, connecting two parts of the old town in Mostar. On both sides surrounded by fortified towers, it fits seamlessly into the landscape, creating an impressive sight. This single span stone bridge seems to look different when viewed from different perspectives.
Built by Mimar Hayruddin, disciple of the great Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan, legend has it that the builder never saw the bridge completed, as he left before the scaffolding was removed, having no strength to see if the bridge will stand. Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent threatened to decapitate him if the bridge falls. The bridge is, together with the surrounding part of the Old City of Mostar, on UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites, and is often cited as one of the most beautiful bridges in the world.
The bridge is a place where young men from Mostar prove their courage in a sort of maturity test, and the tradition of the diving competitions is almost 450 years old. Equally iconic as the bridge is the image of a diver soaring through the air from the bridge towards the fast and cold water of Neretva River.