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, Ivo Andrić
Even if you are not a big connoisseur of Bosnia & Herzegovina, I bet you know the country’s two main landmarks, its two elegant bridges – The Old Bridge in Mostar City and The Bridge on the Drina River in Višegrad. But did you know that Bosnia & Herzegovina has two out of only three bridges in the UNESCO Heritage bridge monuments worldwide? Therefore, we call them national treasures. This is the story of one of them.
Before you see The Bridge on the Drina, I strongly recommend reading the book of the same name, written by our Nobel laureate Ivo Andrić. Through centuries of its turbulent history, it is a story of Višegrad town, its people and the bridge. The book benefits those not from the Balkans, as the bridge is a testament to ingenuity.
About the bridge
The bridge over the Drina is a masterpiece that 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 the 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 a rest or wish to enjoy the spectacular view.
It is not only the view that is spectacular here, there is something that cannot be explained with words. Simply put, no matter how often you cross the bridge, you will desire to do it repeatedly.
Višegrad, a small town (around 6000 inhabitants) surrounded by scenic landscapes, is not a place for tourists loving big and noisy places but a perfect niche destination. It is located on the Drina River, once a natural border between the Western and Eastern Roman Empires, nowadays, it meanders through picturesque mountainous and plain regions of Bosnia and Serbia.
Where to stay and what to do
Suppose you are coming from Sarajevo to spend one day in this region of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In that case, I suggest you take this tour to see Mehmed Paša Sokolović Bridge and Andrićgrad in Višegrad, but also to ride along the Sargan Eight Railway and explore Kustendorf, a replica of the traditional Serbian village built by Emir Kusturica. If you stay overnight in Višegrad, keep in mind that this small town does not have a lot of accommodation options. Hence, our suggestion would be to book Andrić Apartment, which is conveniently situated within walking distance from all the attractions, restaurants and the river. Alternatively, if you fancy wooden cottages snuggled in nature, you can book your stay at Stara pruga Jaz, which also offers a free shuttle to the closest airport in Sarajevo.
The best way to admire the bridge and the Drina River at the same time is to take a boat tour. Breath-taking views are guaranteed, as well as complete escapism. Another way of doing it (but in summer only) is a beautiful summer terrace near the bridge. Whenever you happen to be here, do not forget to visit Andrićgrad, a town of famous film-maker Emir Kusturica.
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