About Mehmed Paša Sokolović Bridge
The Mehmed Paša Sokolović Bridge is an Ottoman-era bridge that crosses the Drina River in the city of Višegrad, in eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina.
History of the Mehmed Paša Sokolović Bridge
The construction of the Mehmed Paša Sokolović Bridge took place between 1571 and 1577 and was ordered by Grand Vizier Mehmed Pasha Sokolović. It is 179.5 metres long, and was designed by the Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan. It was also a site where Bosniak civilians were massacred during the Bosnian War.
Mimar Sinan was one of the greatest architects of the classical Ottoman period, responsible for over 300 major structures during the sultanates of Suleiman the Magnificent, Selim II and Murad III. His works are often compared with those of the Italian Renaissance.
The bridge is characteristic of contemporary monumental engineering. It features 11 masonry arches, which span between 11 and 15 metres wide. On one side of the river, there is an access ramp at a right angle to the bridge.
In 1945, the Nobel-prize winning Yugoslav writer Ivo Andrić wrote the novel The Bridge on the Drina, which brought attention to the structure from a wide readership. It situated the bridge as a witness to four centuries of history, and a symbol of both division and unification.
The bridge is also a site of mourning. Višegrad was the site of acts of mass murder in 1992 during the Bosnian War, when Serb police and military forces were responsible for the attempted ethnic cleansing of eastern Bosnia.
Several thousand Bosniak civilians were massacred in Višegrad. Many of their bodies were dumped in the Drina river from the bridge. Perućac lake was another location where bodies were concealed. When its waters were lowered in 2010 for maintenance work, the remains of over 300 bodies were retrieved for identification.
Mehmed Paša Sokolović Bridge today
In 2007, UNESCO included the bridge on the World Heritage List. They state that: “The unique elegance of proportion and monumental nobility of the property as a whole bear witness to the greatness of this style of architecture.” The monument is open to walk across. There are benches permitting visitors to regard the view over the Drina.
Getting to Mehmed Paša Sokolović Bridge
The historic bridge is in the centre of Višegrad, which can be reached from the capital of Sarajevo by a 2 hour car or taxi journey or a longer bus trip.