If there is a place in Bosnia & Herzegovina, that will steal your breath away before you even realize it, not only because of its irresistible nature but also thanks to its amazing history and charming people, then it could be only the town called Višegrad. In one of the most picturesque spots of the Balkans, you will find two masterpieces worth discovering – UNESCO protected Bridge on the Drina River and Emir Kusturica’s architectural chef-d’oeuvre Andrićgrad. What connects those two artworks is one man, the most celebrated novelist and Nobel prize laureate – Ivo Andrić, who created the third masterpiece, the Nobel prize-winning novel “The Bridge on the Drina”. If you are looking for an inspiring cultural & historical place, there will be no better time to explore lovely Višegrad and its three masterpieces.
Being one of only three UNESCO Heritage bridge monuments around the world, the Bridge on the Drina River is a cultural & historical treasure of Bosnia & Herzegovina. This masterpiece straddles the river with 11 large arches and several smaller ones. It was built in 1577 by Mehmed Paša Sokolović, a Serbian boy who became grand vizier of the Ottoman Empire, so it also brings his name. It is 180 meters long and 6 meters wide, with two terraces in the middle – for the passers who need rest or wish to enjoy the spectacular view. It is not only the view that is spectacular here, but there is also something that can’t be explained in words. Simply put, no matter how many times you cross the bridge, you will desire to do it again and again. The best way to admire the bride and the Drina River at the same time is to take a boat tour. Breath-taking views are guaranteed, as well as complete escapism.
Before you come to see the bridge, I strongly recommend you to read the book “The Bridge on the Drina", written by our Nobel laureate Ivo Andrić. It is a story of the Višegrad town and the bridge, through centuries of its tempestuous history. The masterpiece book is especially helpful for those not coming from the Balkans (which is very likely your case), as the bridge is a testament to the ingenuity. Andrić got inspired by the marvelous bridge, but he was also the person who brought the worldwide popularity to this masterpiece with its Nobel prize-winning “The Bridge on the Drina” novel. Therefore, those two - Andrić and the bridge, are inseparable. So, when in Višegrad, you can visit his house, his memorial classroom and his monument.
Nested in a small peninsula between the river Drina and it’s tributary, Andrićgrad is located just next to the legendary bridge. Impressed by this setting, famous film director Emir Kusturica (twice-garlanded with the Palme d’Or at Cannes Festival) created a stunning Andrićgrad, a town within the town of Višegrad. This masterpiece, also known as a Stonetown is a sort of his homage to great Andrić, inspired by his work. Its architecture is a fusion of different eras that, over the centuries, shaped the history of Višegrad, but also Bosnia & Herzegovina in general. When you observe the architecture around the complex, you will distinguish the traces of Byzantine style, the Ottoman’s period and the Classicism, plus a bit of Renaissance. It consists of the Institute of Slavic Languages, a Fine Arts Academy, an Ottoman caravanserai, an Orthodox church, a Town Hall, a theatre, an opera house, a multiplex cinema, a hotel, a marina, a heliport, etc.
Surrounded by scenic landscapes, Višegrad is not a place for tourists loving big and noisy places, but a perfect niche destination. A small & peaceful town in eastern Bosnia & Herzegovina (10 km from the border with Serbia) with only 8000 inhabitants, once was a natural border between Western and Eastern Roman Empire. Always appealing to great minds, this place had a privilege to have Mehmed Paša Sokolović, Ivo Andrić and Emir Kusturica. It is worth every effort coming to lovely Višegrad to discover its three masterpieces, an everlasting legacy to the humanity.
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