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Bridge on the Drina

Mehmed paša Sokolović

Mehmed pasa Sokolovic

Mimar Sinan

Mimar Sinan

The bridge on the Drina is a heritage of the great vizier Mehmed pasa Sokolovic (in Turkish Sokollu Mehmet Paşa, 1505. or 1506-1579). He is one of the great Osman war generals by origin from Bosnia. He was born in the village of Sokolovići near Rudo in 1505. or 1506, and was a child of Orthodox parents.
At that time there was a tradition known as Devširma, or „The contribution in blood”. Serbian children would be taken away by force to Turkey where they would be converted in Islam and taught in their military schools to become Janissaries, the elite soldiers of the Turkish Empire. So was Bajica Sokolovic taken as a child from the surroundings of Višegrad and given the name Mehmed.
Later on he would become the officer of the Osman army for his skills, and on top of his rule he became a great vizier, which equal to the Prime Minister according to the standards accepted today.
At the highest peak of his rule, he orders to build the bridge on Drina at Višegrad that no other bridge looks alike.

 

The bridge was built in the period from 1571 to 1577 by at that time the most famous Turkish architect Kodža Mimar Sinan.

The bridge consists of 11 arches with mild ascend towards the middle section and the exit dock on the left coast.

There is extension at the sixth pillar on both sides. On one side is sofa, put in the middle of the bridge foreseen to be used for resting for passengers, across of which the stone portal is placed. Stone portal have two plates made of white marble with the lyrics of the writer called Nihadija in Arabic alphabet, that speak about the constructor and the year of construction.

The older and upper text was written in year 1571/1572:

„He built a magnificent bridge over Drina in Bosnia
With a line of arches at that river,
On top of the deep and noisy river.
His ancestors were not able to build anything similar,
The great Pasha made it according to the order of God,
For his name to be mentioned with the respect and gratitude
He build the bridge that nowhere else in the world exists...“


The text from year 1577 says:
„Highly respective philanthropist Mehmed pasa, who acted as a reliable vizier for the three rulers offered the biggest heritage, which requires to be written by God. With the pure intention he decided to build the huge bridge over the Drina River. The works at the bridge were so nice, so that the passer would think it was a pearl in the water, and the sky is a shell“

 

NaDrini ćuprija

 

In the past there was a wooden house in the middle of the bridge put by Austrians with a buffer stop and a bridge guards, and that part of the bridge is therefore called The Gate.
During 1914 the two pillars were knocked down and the arches that aligned on them.
In between the two world wars the bridge was temporary enable to be in service by use of metal construction.
The bridge was fully repaired in October 1940.
During the 1943 four pillars with arches were ruined as a consequence of mining., and again a metal construction was put.
The bridge was fully repaired again from 1949. to 1952.

 

In 2007. bridge entered UNESCO world heritage list as a bridge with big cultural impact, and also as a best representative of a classical ottoman style in bridge making.
UNESCO criteria met for entering the list (www.unesco.org):


Criterion (ii): Located in a position of geostrategic importance, the bridge bears witness to important cultural exchanges between the Balkans, the Ottoman Empire and the Mediterranean world, between Christianity and Islam, through the long course of history. The management of the bridge and repairs made it to have also involved different political and cultural powers: after the Ottomans came the Austro-Hungarians, the Yugoslav Federation, and the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina.


Criterion (iv): The Višegrad bridge is a remarkable architectural testimony to the apogee of the classical age of the Ottoman Empire, whose values and achievements mark an important stage in the history of humankind.
“The property, principally consisting of the bridge, the access ramp and the two river banks upstream and downstream, is protected by its buffer zone on each bank of the Drina river. The integrity of the bridge is vulnerable but is now adequately protected by the buffer zone and appropriately expresses the values it embodies.”


 

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