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 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 they are two out of only three bridges in the UNESCO Heritage bridge monuments around the world? Therefore, we call them national treasures. This is the story of one of them.
Before you come to see The Bridge on the Drina, I strongly recommend you to read the book with the same name, written by our Nobel laureate Ivo Andrić. It is a story of the Višegrad town, people and the bridge, through centuries of its tempestuous history. The 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.
The bridge over 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 can’t be explained with words. Simply put, no matter how many times you cross the bridge, you will desire to do it again and again.
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 Western and Eastern Roman Empire, nowadays it meanders through picturesque mountainous and plain regions of Bosnia and Serbia.
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 pay a visit to Andrićgrad, a town of famous film maker Emir Kusturica.
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