People lived in the Old Town of Stolac even in the ancient times

FOTO: VELIJA HASANBEGOVIĆ

The old city of Vidoški in Stolac was founded in the fifth and sixth century, during the time of the Byzantine emperor Constantine, who built a fort in Stolac with the aim of protecting his commercial caravans that went from the west to the east, towards the former Byzantium.

After Constantine, the city was abandoned, until the arrival of Slavs in the eighth and ninth century, and in the 14th and 15th century during the time of Stjepan Kosača, it experienced medieval flourishing. The Ottomans conquered the city in 1471 and then it got today’s contours with all the fortresses, walls and towers. In the 17th century, the city had 13 towers and was the best-fortified city in Herzegovina.

Thunder strikes

In 1718, Venice attempted to conquer the city and expand its republic to the east, but in its intentions it failed then, and 50 years later. During the Herzegovinian uprising in 1888, the Austro-Hungarian army took over the town by the storm and remained in it until 1918.

This city was the largest in its area, and it was the seat of Ali-pasha Rizvanbegović, or the Herzegovinian Eyalet during the Bosnian uprising.

There is no reliable information about the Ottoman crew before the beginning of the 18th century. Memibegović’s description of the Bosnian Eyalet speaks of Stolac. The translation says: “The town is surrounded by walls, but it’s almost uninhabited, over a hill at the foot of which there are plenty of villages in the plain, which, together with the city, can give 150 fighters.” According to this description, the city has about 600 houses. “River named Bigava runs through Stolac, with 180 waterwheels”. As this list does not mention any agha or castellan in Stolac, this city was without a crew.

In 1664, Evliya Çelebi was in Stolac. In his description of Stolac, he never mentioned the city or the crew. This does not mean that Vidoški did not exist at least as a ruin, but it did not have the crew. Evliya Çelebi mentions fortified towers along with some houses. In the time of Cretan and Vienna War (1645-1660 and 1683-1699), the Venetian troops attacked Stolac. Since the peace in Karlovac was achieved cities of Mostar, Ljubinje, Trebinje were built or expanded… probably the old town of Vidoški was enlarged and rebuilt at the same time, and a crew with a dizdar (castellan) was brought there, and at the same time the Vidoš captaincy was also established.

It is well known that the city has been hit by a thunder twice, and because of the explosion of gunpowder, the city was heavily damaged both times. It happened for the first time in 1757 or 1758. Immediately after that, a part of the city was repaired, as can be seen from the inscription on one tower where years 1758-1759 are carved, and the rest of the repairs were done just before May 1768.

National Monument

After this repair, the city got the shape, as it had later. The city had seven towers connected to two-meter thick walls. French officer, who visited Stolac in 1806, described it this way, but he does not mention the number of towers, he says there are numerous towers. In this town, there was one mosque, several rainwater collection systems, ammunition towers and several residential buildings.

In addition to the castellan, the captain also lived in the city. The second time city was hit by a thunder in 1840, and three years later, the Herzegovinian vizier Ali-pasha Rizvanbegović repaired it. From 1808 to 1810, Captain Mustafa bey Rizvanbegović defended himself from this city, and Stolac rebelled against him. In 1832, the army of Husein-kapetan Gradaščević besieged this town, and it was sent against Alijaga Rizvanbegović.

In August 1878, the Austrian administration was established. The Old Town was almost completely repaired in 1883, and in 1888, a modern fortress was built, located above the one that existed during the Ottoman period. Historic area – the Old Town of Stolac was proclaimed a national monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2003.