Visegrad and the bridge on the Drina, Bosnia and Herzegovina

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Our wonderful first meeting with Bosnia and Herzegovina – one day in Visegrad

“Here, where the Drina flows with the whole force of its green and foaming waters from the apparently closed mass of the dark steep mountains, stands a great clean-cut stone bridge with eleven wide sweeping arches. From this bridge spreads fanlike the whole rolling vaUey with the little oriental town of Visegrad and all its surroundings, with hamlets nestling in the folds of the hills, covered with meadows, pastures and plumorchards, and crisscrossed with walls and fences and dotted with shaws and occasional clumps of evergreens. Looked at from a distance through the broad arches of the white bridge it seems as if one can see not only the green Drina, but all that fertile and cultivated countryside and the southern sky above.”

The Bridge on the Drina by Ivo Andric

The bridge on the Drina Mehmed Pasha Sokolovic bridge in Visegrad, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Bad weather had been chasing us through whole Serbia. The rain and the unusual cold for late August didn’t help us enjoy the beauties of Tara mountains and we left them for later. We crossed the border between Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina and headed to the first town on our way – Visegrad.

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Мостът на Дрина 43.782497, 19.287722

Visegrad a lovely town in Bosnia and Herzegvina

Visegrad is a small town with around 6000 inhabitants, located on the Drina river, just where Rzav river is flowing into Drina. Drina has always been a border river. During Roman times it was the border between the Eastern and Western part of the empire. Later it separated Serbia from the Ottoman empire and then Serbia with the Austro-Hungarian empire. Nowadays is flows near the border between Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. And Visegrad has always been a borderline town.

The beautiful Drina river, Visegrad, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Višegrad is located on the territory of Republika Srpska, one of the three administrative divisions of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Here you can pay with Serbian dinars, Bosnian marks and euro.

The bridge on the Drina

Visegrad used to be a small settlement before the 16th century, when the bridge was built. The man behind the idea of the bridge was the Grand Vezier Mehmed Pasha Sokolovic who was born in a Serbian family in Herzegovina. Construction of the bridge took place between 1571 and 1577. Since then it is the link between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia. Once it was on the main road from Sarajevo to Istanbul.

Bridge on Drina, Visegrad, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Of everything that man erects and builds in his urge for living nothing is in my eyes better and more valuable than bridges. They are more important than houses, more sacred than shrines. Belonging to everyone and being equal to everyone, useful, always built with a sense, on the spot where most human needs are crossing, they are more durable than other buildings and they do not serve for anything secret or bad.

Ivo Andrić

Lovely bridge on Drina, Visegrad, Bosnia and Herzegovina

We parked our car on the place where the old bazaar used to be, a few steps from the bridge. We turned away the offer for a boat ride and instead headed to explore the city ourselves. Whoever may have visited Visegrad, was probably left amazed by the wonderful nature, the green hills and the river flowing between them. We stepped on the bridge and started our walk, with the heavy clouds above us.

The bridge of Mehmed Pasha Sokolovic

The bridge of Mehmed Pasha Sokolovic is an amazing example of the Ottoman architecture. Beautiful and almost eternal, it was erected between 1571 and 1577. It was a dramatic construction time when corvée was imposed not only on the men from Visegrad and the neighbouring villages, but also on passers-by that accidentally found themselves at the wrong place.

The bridge is 180 m long and 6 m wide, featuring 11 arches above the river. There are two terraces in the middle, known as kapia. This is the place where any Visegrad citizen could sit for a rest or a coffee, have a chat with the other passers-by or just enjoy the view. On one of the terraces there is also a pillar with a verse saying who and when built the bridge. This was also the place where the important messages were hanged.

Walking along the Bridge on Drina, Visegrad, Bosnia and Herzegovina

The bridge survived more than 400 years but not without any damage. During WW1 it was bombed by the Serbians and the Austrian troops. It lost three of its pillars. After being repaired, it received no mercy during WW2 when 5 of its beautiful arches were damaged. The bridge witnessed many terrible events. During the Bosnian war hundreds of Bosnians were killed here.

The bridge makes a strange turn in the direction opposite to the today’s road to Sarajevo. Hundreds of years ago the road used to pass by Rogatica village and not by the Drina river. Later a rail line was built, connecting Sarajevo with Visegrad, Vardishte and Uvac, Serbia. Now the line is used only for a small tourist train travelling between Mokra Gora and Sargan Vitasi village.

Old map of Visegrad, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Map -1911

Sinan’s bridges in my blog:

The marvellus Bridge on the Drina in Visegrad, Bosnia and Herzegovina, again

Mehmed Pasha Sokolovic bridge is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2007. .

The Bridge on the Drina by Ivo Andric

You have not visited the bridge on the Drina without having read The Bridge on the Drina by Ivo Andric (1892-1975) – the only Nobel laureate from former Yugoslavia. I really liked the book and I recommend it to everyone, especially if you have not grown up on the Balkans. It is telling the story of the town and the bridge from the times of its construction to 1914.

Drina, the inspiration of writer Ivo Andric, Visegrad, Bosnia and Herzegovina

No matter how many times you cross the bridge, it is never enough. On our way back from Mostar we stopped by again, just for a short walk.

Andricgrad

Visegrad features another attraction that is not dating back to the 16th century but is not less interesting. This is Andricgrad – a complex built by film director Emir Kusturica in the honour of Ivo Andric. After he built his Wooden city Drvengrad – Mecavnik in Mokra Gora, Serbia, Kusturica decided to build his own Stone city – Andricgrad. It is a mini-town with its own streets, buildings, cafes, a church and workshops. A central part of the complex is the cinema. Andricgrad loks like a décor of a movie that has not yet been shot.

Andricgrad, Visegrad, Bosnia and Herzegovina

We had lunch on the terrace of Andricev Konak, enjoying the view to the bridge. In Visegrad we felt really good and relaxed and we are a bit sorry that we didn’t allow more time. Visegrad is not a place for tourists loving big and noisy places but it appeared to be the perfect place for people like us. Maybe next time we will stay a night there but this time we were in a hurry for another, higher bridge – the Old Bridge in Mostar.



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