Gimnazija Mostar

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Gimnazija Mostar
Гимназија Мостар
Mostar gimnasium.jpg
Španski trg 1
Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Type Gymnasium
Established 1893
Principal Bakir Krpo
Vice principal Ankica Čović
Age range 14–19
Language Bosnian and Croatian
(mutually intelligibile)

Gimnazija Mostar (Cyrillic: Гимназија Мостар) is a gymnasium in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Formerly called Gimnazija "Aleksa Šantić" (Cyrillic: Гимназија "Алекса Шантић") in honour of the eponymous poet, it is nowadays popularly referred to as Stara gimnazija (The Old Gymnasium).[1]


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".[1] The gymnasium is thus of historic value and is considered a national monument.[1]


The school belonged to the most renowned and academically prestigious educational institutions in Yugoslavia,[1][2][3][4][5][6] and was possibly the most reputable school in Bosnia and Herzegovina.[1] It numbered 2,000 students, including Bosniaks, Bosnian Croats and Bosnian Serbs alike.[5] The school alumni include the historian Vladimir Ćorović, the philosopher and poet Dimitrije Mitrinović,[7] and the writer Predrag Matvejević.[6] 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".[8]

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.[9] 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.[10]


Gimnazija Mostar in 2011

Gimnazija Mostar presently operates under two separate secondary school curricula and in two completely mutually intelligibile languages, Bosnian and Croatian, with sports and a few classes combined.[10][11][12] Though it was originally intended to fully integrate subjects or at least the science ones (Biology, Chemistry, Information Technology, Mathemathics and Physics),[4] the idea of unification was fiercely opposed by local politicians, especially Croat officials who felt that their national identity was being threatened.[5] Nevertheless, integration has been achieved to a certain extent in what has been called a "rare social experiment".[5][9] Students themselves mostly welcomed the desegregation.[5][10]

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,[1][10] 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,[1] and the only such school in Mostar.[10]

As of 2013, the school is attended by about 360 Bosniaks and about 290 Bosnian Croats. There are two six-hour sessions a day, the first session reserved for third- and fourth-year students, and the second session for younger students.[5] Students from both groups mingle during recess,[5][9] with considerable intercommunal flirting reported.[9] Nationalist politicians still promote the idea of segregation, with the education minister Greta Kuna declaring that "apples and peaches should not mix".[5]

United World College[edit]

In 2006, Queen Noor of Jordan, president of the United World Colleges, opened the United World College in Mostar, which is housed on the gymnasium's third floor.[10][11] Among many illustrious graduates in its short history, the college was attended by international students, including Kim Han-sol, grandson of the North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong-il and nephew of the latter's successor, Kim Jong-un.[13][14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Joseph, Suad; Najmabadi, Afsaneh (2003). Encyclopedia of Women & Islamic Cultures: Economics, education, mobility, and space. Brill Publishers. ISBN 9004128204. 
  2. ^ Herzegovina Neretva Canton Tourist Board. "The Old Gymnasium". Retrieved 30 January 2013. 
  3. ^ Moore, Mary Elizabeth; Wright, Almeda M (2008). Children, Youth, and Spirituality in a Troubling World. Chalice Press. ISBN 0827205139. 
  4. ^ a b "International community presents plan for integration of Mostar schools". OSCE. 19 October 2012. Retrieved 30 January 2013. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h Terry, Sara (27 September 2007). "Students mingle – sort of – in postwar Bosnia's only integrated school". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 30 January 2013. 
  6. ^ a b Matvejević, Predrag. "Mostar – rušenje mostova" (in Serbo-Croatian). Retrieved 31 January 2013. 
  7. ^ Passerini, Luisa (1999). Europe in Love, Love in Europe: Imagination and Politics in Britain Between the Wars. I.B.Tauris. ISBN 1860642810. 
  8. ^ Humo, Avdo (1984). Moja generacija (in Serbo-Croatian). Zavod za izdavačku delatnost "Filip Višnjić". 
  9. ^ a b c d Jones, Adam (2010). Genocide: A Comprehensive Introduction. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 0415486181. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f Itano, Nicole (15 October 2010). "Meet the students at an integrated Bosnian high school (And you thought your high school cafeteria was tough.)". Retrieved 30 January 2013. 
  11. ^ a b Cooperation with Gymnasium Mostar. Retrieved 30 January 2013. 
  12. ^ Pašalić Kreso, Adila (2008). "The War and Post-War Impact on the Educational System of Bosnia and Herzegovina". International Review of Education / Internationale Zeitschrift für Erziehungswissenschaft / Revue Internationale de l'Education 54 (3–4): 356–357. doi:10.1007/s11159-008-9087-y. Retrieved 30 January 2013. 
  13. ^ "Kim Jong-il's grandson enrols at Bosnia college". The Daily Telegraph. 14 October 2011. Retrieved 30 January 2013. 
  14. ^ "North Korea leader's nephew in rare interview". BBC. 19 October 2012. Retrieved 30 January 2013. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 43°20′34″N 17°48′24″E / 43.34278°N 17.80667°E / 43.34278; 17.80667