Throughout the Balkans, the profound rise of nationalism of the Slavic people helped to weaken the Ottoman and Habsburg empires, in the late 1800’s. Ivo Andric, describes this Slavic nationalism, as well growing modernization, in one specific town,Visegrad, that lie in the heart of the Balkans. In the center of this community stood a stone bridge. This bridge, the Mehmed Pasa Sokolovic Bridge of Visegrad, was built over the Drina from 1571 to 1577. It was much more than just a stone structure to the people of Visegrad because, not only did it connect Bosnia and Serbia, but it symbolized a heart, a healer, a tomb, a source of power, a gateway, and a blockade to the people of Visegrad.
During the Ottoman and Austrian eras and the Balkan Wars of 1912 and 1913, the people of Visegrad were almost completely pushed out of the Balkans, but they stayed true to their country and fought back. Toma Galus, a man who had distinguished himself in Visegrad, described the views ...view middle of the document...
Modernization in Visegrad started with the building of the bridge. Once the bridge was complete, time in Visegrad seemed to stop, and the local community began having many difficulties in accepting all the changes that came with the Austrian rule. At the site of the caravanserai, a barrack was built, causing a sudden inundation of foreigners. Not only were foreigners moving into their town, but the building of a narrow-gauge railway to Sarajevo, caused children to begin to go away to get an education and, upon return, the children brought back ideas from the rest of the world. This new railway also led to the bridge in Visegrad losing a lot of its roles for the community. As Andric puts it, “The bridge was no longer used for traveling, farewells were no longer said on the kapia and men no longer dismounted there to drink the stirrup-cups of plum brandy “for the road” (212).
Although the bridge wasn’t used as often after the building of the new railway, it still remained there. While everything else in Visegrad had changed, it was the only thing that had remained the same. Andric states, “But the bridge still stood, the same as it had always been, with the eternal youth of a perfect conception, one of the great and good works of man, which do not know what it means to change and grow old and which, or so it seemed, do not share the fate of the transient things of this world” (214). The bridge not only remained unchanged through everything, but it also stood as a symbol of a link, or bridge, between the East and the West. The bridge as a linking point, can also bring separation to many people, which sometimes, turns out to be a separation from family, a lover, a religion, or even life.
The bridge itslef could attest to many struggles in its own life. In one example, Andric writes, “This lantern on the kapia had to endure a long struggle with the local jokers, with those who loved to sing in the darkness or to smoke and chat on the kapia as also with the destructive impulses of the young men in whom love-yearning, solitude and plum brandy mingled and clashed. That flickering light irritated them and so countless times both the lantern and the lamp inside were smashed to pieces” (141). The bridge was eventually destroyed