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The bridge over Drina.

The bridge over Drina.

I just visited Visegrad, where you have the famous bridge over river Drina. Here are a few of my impressions about the place. And some tips and advice if you would like to visit the bridge over Drina.

Local Visegrad inhabitants walking across the bridge.

Local Visegrad inhabitants walking across the old bridge.

The bridge over Drina in Visegrad is one of the worlds most fabled bridges. This is both because it’s an architectural masterpiece and because of the famous novel, written by Ivo Andric, that takes place around the bridge. A novel that won Ivo Andric the Nobel price in litterature.

The famous book, written by Ivo Andric.

The famous book, written by Ivo Andric.

Despite all the fame, there are actually surprisingly few foreign visitors in Visegrad. There are a couple of reasons for that though. In order to get there from Sarajevo, I had to get out in the suburbs, to the bus station that serves Republika Srbska. This is a bus station that is a bit hard to reach by public transport and rarely used by foreign visitors. The bus ride to Visegrad was in a small and not very comfortable minibus, where I was packed together with around 20 locals. The ride to Visegrad took around 3 hours and was very scenic, especially the last bit, when we were driving along the river Drina.

Visegrad has a nice natural setting by the river Drina.

Visegrad has a nice natural setting by the river Drina.

The bridge over Drina was build during the Ottoman period in the 15th century. It used to divide the town in to two parts. One where there was mainly muslim population living and one where there was mainly christians living. That changed during the early days of the Yugoslav civil war in the 1990’s though. Somewhere between 1000 and 3000 muslim inhabitants was assassinated in Visegrad by ultra nationalist Serbian militias. There were so many dead bodies thrown in to the river, that the hydro electric power station further down the river stopped working at one time, because there were so many dead bodies stuck in the system. The rest of the muslim population fled abroad or to other pasts of Bosnia and few has returned since. This gives the town a bit of a dark vibe and as a foreign visitor I sometimes felt that people gave me an: “Are you here to judge us” look. When I visit places like this I always take a very diplomatic attitude though. First of all, it was ultra nationalist militias who killed all these people. Not the vast majority of the population. Some of the locals who took part in it also only did so in order to not get shot themselves. And then you have the many who were just bystanders to the slaughter. But there are still people in town who have taken part, so step carefully and only talk about it to locals if they start talking to you about it. I spoke to a couple of young locals about it and they were not happy abut it at all and were saying that they wished Yugoslavia had stayed together as one nation. That is something I hear from quite a lot of people in former Yugoslavia. With the exception of Croatia though. There, people generally seem to be happy about the newly won independence. The militia leaders behind the Visegrad massacre are serving long jail sentences in The hague these days, by the way.

Hotel Andricev Konak in Visegrad.

Hotel Andricev Konak in Visegrad.

But try to take a few moments to also enjoy this fantastic bridge that has a truly fantastic setting on the Drina river. The main Hotel in town is called Andricev Konak. It’s situated right by the river and is quite nice and not expensive at all. It was filled up by a wedding party when I was there though, but the Hotel helped me to rent a very nice private room next door for only 10€ per night. If you are not staying at the Hotel, I would still recommend to go there both for breakfast and dinner though. The view from the restaurant terrace is the best you will get of the bridge over Drina, anywhere in town.

The bridge over Drina, by night.

The bridge over Drina, by night.

If you want to travel to Visegrad by public transport, then you need the bus. You have a few daily connection from Sarajevo to Visegrad. If you are coming from Serbia, then you have bus connection to the Serbian town Uzice. It’s only once or twice a day, so try to check out the time in advance if you can.

This was a little about Visegrad and the bridge over Drina. I would recommend that you visit this place, even if it has a very dark recent history. The bridge is stunning and it’s set in fantastic nature. And if the world has to move on as a nice place to live, then we have to overcome and move along. Even after the worst disasters. I also visit Germany happily, even if I know several people who were tortured by Nazis in the second world war.

Have a nice trip if you decide to go and visit Visegrad and the bridge over Drina. It’s worth a visit.

Standing on the bridge and looking in towards Visegrad.

Standing on the bridge and looking in towards Visegrad.

Claus.

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