Вишеград, Република Српска
Visegrad, Republika Srpska
December 23rd 2022
The Mehmed Paša Sokolović Bridge in Višegrad is the central character in the book by nobel-prize winning literature writer Ivo Andrić, The Bridge on the Drina. Constructed by the Ottoman Empire in 1577, the book details how the bridge has represented a lasting monument to the town for 500 years, weathering grand changes in community and faith, witnessing countless revolutions and changing of empires, and eventually several destructive wars. It has been an everlasting lifeblood for a people that have accidentally found themselves on the division between West and East, Christian and Muslim, Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian. The central square on the bridge itself, the kapia, was also a place of gatherings and community, but also of border control and execution.
As Andrić writes:
" At and around the kapia were the first stirrings of love, the first passing glances, flirtations and whisperings. There too were the first deals and bargains, quarrels and reconciliations, meetings and waitings. There, on the stone parapet of the bridge, were laid out for sale the first cherries and melons, the early morning salep and hot rolls. There too gathered the beggars, the maimed and the lepers, as well as the young and healthy who wanted to see and be seen, and all those who had something remarkable to show in produce, clothes or weapons. There too the elders of the town often sat to discuss public matters and common troubles, but even more often young men who only knew how to sing and joke. There, on great occasions or times of change, were posted proclamations and public notices... The kapia was the most important part of the bridge, even as the bridge was the most important part of the town, or as a Turkish traveller, to whom the people of Višegrad had been very hospitable, wrote in his account of his travels: 'their kapia is the heart of the bridge, which is the heart of the town, which must remain in everyone's heart'. "
The town of Višegrad (š = sh) is located deep in Repulika Srpska, an autonomous region of Bosnia and Herzegovina that, following the Dayton Agreement in 1995, was internationally recognised, an act that formally ended the Bosnian war. Culturally, Višegrad feels much closer to Belgrade than Sarajevo, as the Repulika was founded for Bosnian Serbs, it's flag even being a simplified form of Serbia's.
(I petted every animal you see here, and more).