Bridge across the Drina

Not including Mostar, I saw two outstanding Ottoman bridges in Bosnia. The first was called the Mehmed Pasa Sokolovic Bridge in the town of Visegrad, built in 1571 by the brilliant Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan, who is mainly known for creating mosques such as the Suleymaniye Mosque in Istanbul. The bridge was immortalised in Ivo Andric’s Nobel Prize-winning novel ‘Bridge on the Drina’. The bridge is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has 11 masonry arches with spans of 11 m to 15 m, and an access ramp at right angles with four arches on the left bank of the river. The 179.5 m long bridge is regarded as a masterpiece of Sinan’s, of whom UNESCO wrote “Sinan, one of the greatest architects and engineers of the classical Ottoman period and a contemporary of the Italian Renaissance, with which his work may be compared.”

Clifton Suspension Bridge

The Clifton Suspension Bridge opened in 1864 and spans the Avon Gorge and River Avon linking Clifton in Bristol to Leigh Woods in North Somerset. The toll is 1 pound and the income provides funds for the bridge’s maintenance. The bridge is built to a design by William Henry Barlow and John Hawkshaw, based on an earlier design by Isambard Kingdom Brunel. It is a grade I listed building.

The idea of building a bridge across the Avon Gorge originated in 1753. Original plans were for a stone bridge and later iterations were for a wrought iron structure. The three independent wrought iron chains on each side came from the Hungerford Suspension Bridge across the Thames, which was demolished in 1860.

Mostar in Bosnia Herzegovina

The most famous sight in Mostar is the Stari Most, the Turkish Bridge, crossing the River Neretva. Although destroyed in 1993, the bridge was reconstructed as faithfully as possible to the original specifications. Today, this bridge is the main reason most tourists come to Mostar and there is a long debate as to where the best viewing place is. The problem is that the bridge faces due north or south depending on your position and so, during the day,the bridge is best seen from the south side during the late morning and early afternoon, when the sun is at its harshest.

My suggestion for the finest view is whilst having dinner on the terrace of the Urban Grill restaurant. Sit at the table to the extreme right as you enter the terrace and the bridge will gradually start to glow as the sun goes down, due to the tasteful night-time lighting. Sitting at this table aligns you with the exact centre of the bridge and so pictures achieve an almost perfect symmetry with reflections in the water.

An added bonus is the call of the muezzin at sunset. This call echoes from two or three minarets around the city and reverberates around the surrounding hills. When I was there, I also heard the quacking of some ducks who were upset when a diver jumped into the river from the bridge 21 metres above. Sounds travel a long way in this beautiful setting.