The Mehmed Paša Sokolović Bridge is a historic bridge in Višegrad, over the Drina River in eastern Republic of Srpska. It was completed in 1577 by the Ottoman court architect Mimar Sinan on the order of the Grand Vizier Mehmed Paša Sokolović.
UNESCO included the bridge in its 2007 World Heritage List.
It is characteristic of the apogee of Turkish monumental architecture and civil engineering. It numbers 11 masonry arches, with spans of 11 to 15 meters, and an access ramp at right angles with four arches on the left bank of the river.
The 179,5-meter-long bridge is a representative masterpiece of Mimar Sinan, one of the greatest architects and engineers of the classical Ottoman period and a contemporary of the Italian Renaissance, with which his work can be compared.
The UNESCO summary states: 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 bridge was commissioned by Grand Vizier Mehmed Paša Sokolović, who exercised power over a long period at the summit of the Ottoman Empire during the reign of three sultans as a tribute to his native region and a symbol of trade and prosperity.
Construction of the bridge took place between 1571 and 1577. Major renovations of the bridge have taken place in 1664, 1875, 1911, 1940 and 1950–52. Three of its 11 arches were destroyed during World War I and five were damaged during World War II but subsequently restored.
Ivo Andrić’s novel “The Bridge on the Drina” revolves around the Mehmed Paša Sokolović Bridge in Višegrad, which spans the Drina River and stands as a silent witness to history from its construction by the Ottomans until its partial destruction during World War I. The story spans about four centuries and covers the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian occupations of the region, with a particular emphasis on the lives, destinies and relations of the local inhabitants, especially Serbs and Bosnian Muslims (Bosniaks).
Andrić had been Yugoslavia’s ambassador to Germany from 1939 to 1941, during the early years of World War II, and was arrested by the Germans in April 1941, following the Axis invasion of Yugoslavia. In June 1941, he was allowed to return to German-occupied Belgrade but was confined to a friend’s apartment in conditions that some biographers liken to house arrest. The novel was one of three that Andrić wrote over the next several years. All three were published in short succession in 1945, following Belgrade’s liberation from the Nazis. The Bridge on the Drina was published in March of that year to widespread acclaim.
In 1961, Andrić was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature and his works became subject to international recognition. ‘’The Bridge on the Drina’’ remains Andrić’s best-known work.
The Turkish International Co-operation and Development Agency (TIKA) provided 3.5 million euros for the restoration of the Mehmed Paša Sokolović Bridge. Representatives of TIKA, the B&H Commission for Co-operation with UNESCO, the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Srpska and the Višegrad municipality signed an agreement to renovate the bridge on the 19th April 2010.