Gymnasium Mostar

Austro-Hungarian

Gimnazija Mostar  is a gymnasium (secondary school) in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Formerly called Gimnazija “Aleksa Šantić”  in honour of the eponymous poet, it is nowadays popularly referred to as Stara gimnazija (The Old Gymnasium).

The school was founded in 1893, a few years before the building itself was constructed. Designed by the Czech architect František Blažek, the first half of the gymnasium was completed in 1898 and the second in 1902, during the Austro-Hungarian occupation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Featuring Andalusian and Mamluk elements as an example of Moorish Revival architecture, the building is the result of Austro-Hungarian desire to promote Bosnian national identity while avoiding its association with either the Ottoman Empire or the growing pan-Slavic movement by creating an “Islamic architecture of European fantasy”. The gymnasium is thus of historic value and is considered a national monument.

The school belonged to the most renowned and academically prestigious educational institutions in Yugoslavia, and was possibly the most reputable school in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It numbered 2,000 students,. The school alumni include the historian Vladimir Ćorović, the philosopher and poet Dimitrije Mitrinović, and the writer Predrag Matvejević. The Communist activist and future Prime Minister of Bosnia and Herzegovina Avdo Humo also attended the gymnasium before being evicted in November 1931 due to “committing political transgressions at school”.

The gymnasium was considerably damaged due to shelling during the Bosnian War, particularly so during the Croat–Bosniak War, being located at the front line. Following the war, classes for Bosnian Croat students were held on a single floor of the ruined building, with Bosniak students returning in 2004. Renovation of the gymnasium started the same year and was completed in 2009.

Located in the very centre of the town, next to the former front line which has divided the town into two spheres since the war, it is one of the first schools in post-war Bosnia and Herzegovina in which the integration of students from different ethnic groups was implemented, and the only such school in Mostar.

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