Saturday, October 1, 2011

VISEGRAD


Višegrad is situated in the spacious ravine of the Drina river on the hilly slopes that mildly rise into the Višegrad mountains. Višegrad ravine is one of rare enlargements in the Drina river flow that consists partly of the high sheer rocks and mountains.

Višegrad is one of the oldest inhabited places in present BIH. It was registered for the first time at the end of the 14th century as a settlement on the hill. It was then only called “Town”. The town was a fortress that controlled the caravan road between Dubrovnik and Serbia and the direction toward Istanbul. Višegrad becomes more famous after the construction of the bridge, currently known as “ćuprija” on the Drina river.


“In a place were mountains that make narrow and deep canyon of the Drina river diverge into spacious ravine, there is a stone, approx. 500 years old bridge with 11 arches of the broad spans, known to all as “the bridge over the Drina river”. The bridge is cca 250 m long and cca 10 m wide, except in the middle, where it is enlarged with two terraces, one on the each side. That part of the bridge is called – kapija (gate). Walking from the town, on the left terrace, there is a pillar in which there is a plate with the inscription of Badija, a versifier from those times (1571) when the bridge construction was completed, who built the bridge and the year of its construction”!


The following story is related to the bridge:

“One of the boys, who was taken away as “danak u krvi” (a sort of the Turkish tribute where the Balkans boys were taken to Istanbul in order to become Ottoman soldiers, transl. note), was Mehmed Pasha Sokolović. He was born in Sokolovići and became the first vizier who managed to keep the position during the rule of three sultans, due to his intelligence. Remembering his origin, he decided to build a bridge. The construction of the bridge began in 1571 and lasted for 6 years. In 1577, the bridge construction was completed.”

Famous Serb writer Ivo Andrić, inspired by the myths, legends and history of this area, wrote a novel - “The Bridge over the Drina River”, for which he was awarded a Nobel Prize.


So Višegrad, thanks to the bridge and Andrić, became famous and a well known tourist destination.

Not far from the town, there is “Stara Banja“ (Old Spa). Long before the beginning of the construction of the bridge, the people had known about the thermal waters that this area is rich of, but they were rediscovered when the bridge construction works began. Namely, thermal waters were noticed by the workers who dug the stones for the bridge construction. In those days, there were two bathrooms made in Turkish style, so the bridge workers were the regular visitors and the first “tourists” that used medicinal impact of the thermal water, which were confirmed by scientific analyses 15 years ago.


In this place, a hotel “Vilina vlas” was then constructed aimed for use of the thermal impact of these springs. The hotel is 6 km from the very town, and it is located in the forest.

Among many facilities of sacral culture in this territory, Dobrun Monastery stands out with its spiritualism. Dobrun settlement was founded in the medieval time and it is older than the Višegrad town, while the monastery itself is from the time of the Serb Emperor, Dušan.


Monastery survived many destructions and hard times, but in the last decade, it has been restored by the Church council and monks who currently live in and perform the holy liturgy for numerous visitors.

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