WHS: Mehmed Paša Sokolović Bridge, Bosnia

So last time, we were at Durmitor National Park, and having studied the Balkan back ways, we figured that going across the bridge and then taking a left at Pljevljia would bring us to the Bosnian border without needing to go through Serbia proper, where our Albanian car insurance was no good; and that would be a direct route to today’s World Heritage Site:

Mehmed Paša Sokolović Bridge in Višegrad

Mehmed Paša Sokolović Bridge in Višegrad

 

The Mehmed Paša Sokolović Bridge of Višegrad across the Drina River in the east of Bosnia and Herzegovina was built at the end of the 16th century by the court architect Mimar Koca Sinan on the orders of Grand Vizier Mehmed Paša Sokolović. Characteristic of the apogee of Ottoman monumental architecture and civil engineering, the bridge has 11 masonry arches with spans of 11 m to 15 m, and an access ramp at right angles with four arches on the left bank of the river. The 179.5 m long bridge is a representative masterpiece of Sinan, one of the greatest architects and engineers of the classical Ottoman period and a contemporary of the Italian Renaissance, with which his work may be compared. The unique elegance of proportion and monumental nobility of the whole site bear witness to the greatness of this style of architecture.

The universal value of the bridge at Višegrad is unquestionable for all the historical reasons and in view of the architectural values it has. It represents a major stage in the history of civil engineering and bridge architecture, erected by one of the most celebrated builders of the Ottoman Empire.

The bridge particularly bears witness to the transmission and adaptation of techniques in the course of a long historical process. It also bears witness to important cultural exchanges between areas of different civilizations. It is an exceptional representative of Ottoman architecture and civil engineering at its classical apogee. Its symbolic role has been important through the course of history, and particularly in the many conflicts that took place in the 20th century. Its cultural value transcends both national and cultural borders…

So off we headed. And we drove for hour after hour seeing not a single other car on the road to the border, and the grass first encroaching along the road … then forming patches in the middle of it. Rustic is one thing, but this road was downright post-apocalyptic in its disrepair!

At the Bosnian border itself, everything — “everything” being “a gate and a guardhouse” — appeared completely deserted, and we spent a couple minutes wondering if we dared just drive around the gate and continue without getting an entry stamp …

(Pro tip: Do NOT do that. Getting out again will likely be … problematic.)

… when a remarkably surprised-looking personage appeared, wearing trousers of military cut and a white tank top. Who spoke no language we had in common, and we have enough scraps to at least identify every major European language. Apparently the bucolic Bosnian backwoods are not overly cosmopolitan.

So he looked at the car, and looked at my passport, and an alleged Canadian driving an allegedly Albanian car through the back door to nowhere aroused his suspicions even more than usual, and he got across that he’d like to know where I came from. So we popped out the pictures from last time, showing we’d visited the Tara Bridge…

… and then the link above to show that now were heading to Višegrad to see its bridge …

… and the page to show that after that were heading to Mostar to see yet. another. bridge.

At this point he’d moved in expression from mere shock at anyone showing up at Border Station Nowhere to somewhere between complete incredulity that I’d come up with such a ridiculous story and complete credulity at this proof that all foreigners are completely insane.

So, with much muttering and headshaking, apparently he decided that since no one would show up with such a ridiculous story expecting to be believed, it must be true, and we headed on our merry way with much thanks!

As to the bridge itself, well it’s a very nice bridge, certainly…

Mehmed Paša Sokolović Bridge in Višegrad

But it’s still, well, a bridge. And far enough out of the way that there’s zero tourist development surrounding it, too; you can see on Trip Advisor that the attractions of the area are … selective, shall we say?

So, well, if you do have a reason to drive down the Drina River you’ll drive right past it, but otherwise we’d be pretty hard put to recommend this as a World Heritage Site worth the effort to get to …

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p dir=”ltr”>… of course, personally we’re all in on that “the journey is the reward” thing — The Great Bridge Trip Border Crossing Story makes for good entertainment, doesn’t it now?

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Alex Curylo

Alex

I go places.

Comments

  1. […] today, we wind up the extremely rare WHS Bridge Trifecta play — from Tara Bridge in Montenegro to Mehmed Paša Sokolović Bridge of Višegrad and now down to southwest Bosnia and […]

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