The bridge on the Drina in Višegrad, famous for the novel by Ivo Andrić, is the vestiges of the great Vizier Mehmed-paša Sokolović, one of the Ottoman military commanders from Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Sokolovic was born in the village of the same name near Rudo 1505 or 1506 as a child of Orthodox parents. At that time, there was a custom known as devshirme. Serb children were abducted and taken to Turkey where they were transferred to Islam and educated in their military schools and made the elite soldiers of the Turkish empire.
Thus, from the vicinity of Višegrad, Bajica Sokolović was taken as a child and was named Mehmed. He will later become an Ottoman army officer, and at the height of his power he becomes a great vizier, that is, the prime minister of the state according to today’s standards. At the peak of his power, he ordered a bridge to be built in Višegrad on the Drina river.
The bridge was built in the period from 1571 to 1577, and was built by then the most famous Turkish architect Kodža Mimar Sinan. It was built in the eastern style and is a masterpiece of then construction.
It has 11 arches with a slight rise to the center and a descending ramp on the left bank. Above the arches the entire length of the bridge extends to the wreath above which is the bridge fence. The total length is 179.5 m, height above the normal water level of the river 15.40 m and the width of the bridge is 6.30 meters. The bridge is made of stone and tuff, which was brought from the Višegrad Spa.
Above the sixth pillar extensions are located on both sides of the bridge. On the access ramp of the left bank there are three openings ending with broken arches. In the middle of the bridge, a sofa is built for the relaxation of passers-by, and a stone portal is installed across the road.
In the middle of the bridge once used to be a house with a wooden gate and a bridge guard, therefore, this part of the bridge was called a gate. There are also two white marble plates with verses of Nihadi poet in the Arabic script, which speak of the builder and year of construction.
In its centuries-old existence, the bridge suffered many disadvantages. The first recorded damage to the bridge was the demolition of a vault in the Middle Ages. The bridge experienced one repair in 1873, and in 1896 a large flood destroyed most of Višegrad, but the bridge remained almost undamaged, although Drina reached a record 14.6 m depth. Only stone fence on the bridge was damaged.
In 1914, two pillars and vaults were pulled down, and in 1943 four pillars with surrounding vaults were mined by blasting. In the period between the two world wars, the bridge was temporarily open for traffic with the aid of metal construction. A detailed reconstruction of the bridge was carried out between 1949 and 1952.
The bridge is one of the most important national monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and in July 2007 it was entered in the UNESCO World Heritage List.