Reading material for those who love the camping life

By: Bjarne Eikefjord
Motorhome and Caravan magazine, No. 1. February 2017

The medieval building: The bridge over Drina tells the story

Bridges are majestic works of art, they can both connect people closer together or mark a distinction between two peoples. The bridge over Drina in Visegrad east of Bosnia fulfills all these characteristics and is immortalized in the book of the same name, which included the author, Ivo Andrich Nobel Prize in Literature for 1961. BoCM has followed the story that stretches for almost 5 centuries.

Through the millennia, humans have built bridges to cross foaming bodies of water in rivers and rapids. Good Street in San Francisco, Tower Bridge in London, Brooklyn Bridge in New York, Ponte Cestio in Rome, Charles Bridge in Prague and our own Fyksesund Bridge each represent in its own way some of the best in engineering and architecture for their respective ages. And is annually admired by thousands of tourists who seek sights from different eras. Most people have heard of the medieval bridge in Mostar, bombed in gravel during the war in the 1990s and rebuilt in original design in 2005. A little further east, an hour and a half drive on good roads from Sarajevo, there is another bridge from the same age. Through 11 huge arches, it has for almost 500 years been the connection between the east and west banks of the Drina, the river that was the border area between the history and culture of the East and Europe in the Balkans. The bridge represents the best of Ottoman architecture and architecture, and has survived both wars and floods throughout history. Today it has become a meeting place for travelers from all over Europe.


Ivo Andric takes us back to the year 1516 when a ten-year-old boy, along with many others, was robbed from his parents in the city of Sokolovici, to be brought to Istanbul to be enrolled in the Janitor's victory. Along the way they cross the river Drina by boat at the plains where the town of Visegrad consisted of some houses and fields. The whole sultan's consequence, with the "blood charge" as the boys' children were referred to as being transported over the river to an uncertain fate, while their despaired parents remained and saw their children disappearing up the hills in the direction of Istanbul. The boy eventually converted to Islam and became the name of Mehmed Pasja Sokolovic, stepped into the degrees of Turkish military forces and became 50 years later Storvesir. History tells us that he was never completely robbed of his parents, so when he got power, he decided to build a bridge to make contact with his own people easier in today's Bosnia.

Construction time 5 years

Spring 1566 took on Turkish engineers and builders Visegrad. They were going to build a bridge, and the local farmers were commissioned for forced labor. Dalmatian stone hunters were brought in to adapt stones that were picked up and down along Drina. Ivo Andric tells how spooky attempts at sabotage were met with draconian penalties such as spidding on piles and whipping. It worked. Five years later, the bridge was completed. The same did a large inn that would accommodate travelers. There everyone got free accommodation and food, all paid by the large-scale treasure chest. Eventually, a large part of the lives of the people on both banks of the river, Muslim Turks on the one hand and Christian Serbs on the other side came to revolve around the bridge, which became an important connecting road between East and West in the Balkans. And so, the story of the bridge is also part of the history of the Balkans, which has haunted Europe all the way to our day.


The bridge over Drina was a majestic building. From both river banks, it slopes slightly up towards the center, where there were buildings on both sides. On the one hand stands a so-called kapija, a monument with inscriptions that tells of who built the bridge, why and how. And that the bridge does not have its place anywhere in the world at that time. On the other side of the building there are mashed stone benches or a sofa. As the decades passed, the couch was diligently used as a meeting place. There the elderly met to smoke the pipe and figure out how to best manage crops and trade. Young boys sat there while girls in long dresses fluttered and blushing passed, to catch the attention of the potential friars. Agreements on marriage were entered into, and major trade agreements were discussed and concluded. In the caravan scene, or the inn, people met different backgrounds and stands over breakfasts or dinners, while the sun slowly disappeared behind the hills. And so on, it continued throughout the centuries, says Ivo Andric.

The war begins

Just over a hundred years after the bridge was completed, the Habsburg Monarchy attempted to secure Central Europe and the northern parts of the Balkans from the Ottans. The inhabitants of Visegrad, located on both river banks, are hit double. The money for the innkeeping will be gone and all of it will be due. Turks stand against Serbs, and many wars and battles are fought. Occasionally large floods occur, some of them cross the bridge and cover it completely. But the bridge survives. One day a blockhouse is built at the center of the bridge. Elva had now become a boundary and everyone had to go through the blockhouse for control. The soldiers caught just as it were "spies" who were short-haired. This was how the decades went on. Until the whole blockhouse broke down, while a peace dropped over the region. Residents got back their bridge, and at Kapija they took over the previous pursuits with discussions and card games. Fortunes could change owners on nightly gamble games, the consequences met with those in charge afterwards.

New invasion

A couple of centuries later, the Austrians came and took over Bosnia. The Visegrad youth sought to schools and universities in Vienna and Sarajevo. The political discussions took over the talks of Kapija. Another place in Bosnia, in the city of Travnik, a little boy came to the world in 1892. He became the name of Ivo Andric, and after a few years, the whole family moved to Visegrad. Ivo Andric became part of the environment around the bridge, learning the storytelling that had been transmitted through generations about the people in the two districts on the east and west side of the river that were linked with the bridge. Previously, Christians, Muslims and Jews lived in relative peaceful coexistence. Eventually, the contradictions between the different faiths increased and led to the inhabitants no longer standing together as they had previously done. The bridge became a distinction between the peoples' groups.

Historical novel

There was a lot of drama. In 1896 a great flood came that went about a meter over the bridge, only the kapija protruded above the masses of water. But the bridge held. In 1915, acts of war triggered an explosion that blew away two pillars and a soda can. It was not until 1940 that the repair work was completed, and then destroyed again three years later. The bridge was repaired and was in daily use until the 1970s. Ivo Andric has collected all these stories in a book that quickly became famous and translated into a number of languages ​​around the world. The book provides a basis for understanding the ethnic contradictions that have existed, and which still exist in the Balkans today. Ivo Andric depicts individuals and small and large events that emerge over the centuries in the small town on the river Drina. These dramatic stories capture one in a drive that even today, 72 years after its release and 55 years after the award, makes it an important contribution to modern history in the Balkans, and to an understanding of the issues that triggered wars as late as 1990. -the number.


The story does not end with the book. In 2007, the bridge over Drina took place on UNESCO's world heritage site. It is now closed for car driving, but an eldorado for hiking. On the east bank is still the hotel where Ivo Andric had his regular room. The typewriter he used is still standing on a well-polished mahogany desk next to an old welding phone. From the room there is a great view to the bridge. A walk across the bridge and through the city makes the stories from the book alive. The sunset behind the hills reflects in the greenery of the water and creates a trolling atmosphere that can hardly be described, it must be experienced.

The adventure

In 2011, the filmmaker, Emir Kuturica, started the development of an adventure park called Andricgrad, as part of Visegrad, just a few hundred meters from the bridge itself. Ivo Andric's childhood home has been recreated, along with other historical and cultural events. Among other things, we also find the story of Nikola Tesla. Yes, he is the "name father" of Tesla electric cars, but that's a different story. The new district was officially opened in 2014. Outside, a huge parking lot has been created with parking space for both motorhomes and caravans. Already the first opening year, there were tens of thousands of visitors. And the bridge, yes, it still lies there in all its majestic dignity to be admired by future generations for the excellence of medieval architecture and architecture.

How to get there

Three roads lead you: either via the highway through Croatia to the Neretva valley south of Mostar, and via Mostar to Sarajevo. The Canyonen from Mostar to Jablanica, south of Sarajevo, is one of the finest in Europe and worth a visit in itself. Alternatuv route is the Zagreb-Belgrade highway, and take off to Sarajevo about halfway. In Sarajevo lies a great campsite not far from the Bosna River, which is an attraction in itself. From Sarajevo there is a good and modern road to Visegrad, driving time approx. an hour and a half. The language is Bosnian-Serbian, but most of Andricgrad is native to English or German. Currency is Bosnian convertible land BAM or KM, which is exchanged in Euro in the ratio 1 to 1,96. The overall price level is about 30-40%, foods approx. 25% and fuel prices (petrol and diesel) are approx. 50% of Norwegian prices.

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