I am very pleased to open up a new series of blog entries on a city and historical and cultural intertwining with bridges. Sarajevo’s bridges over the Miljacka river, which Ivo Andric called the “spine of Sarajevo” will be profiled in the coming blog entries from a group of very talented young Bosnian architecture students. The collaboration is with Haris Bulic of Sarajevo’s 303 magazine. http://tristotrojka.tumblr.com/. All photos are very generously provided by Kenan Muslić.
First up is Kozja ćuprija (Goat’s Bridge)
Kozja ćuprija (Goat’s Bridge) has much more importance then its name implies. The bridge is located in the canyon of the Miljacka river, a few kilometers to the east of Sarajevo’s old city center. From the 15th to 19th century this bridge served as the main connection between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia, Macedonia and Istanbul. During the reign of the Ottoman empire, the bridge was the only link between Sarajevo and the Empire’s east, so it became well-known as the place where travelers were hosted and welcomed, especially new viziers, elites appointed by Istanbul. In honour of a new vizier, young men jumped from the bridge at the river’s deepest spot.
The bridge was not valued highly during Ottoman reign, except as one of the main crossroads. Houses were not built in the nearby vicinity of the bridge, and there are no recorded songs, stories or works of art about it. The identity of the builder or the time of construction is still unknown. A few legends exist about how the bridge was built and who made it. One of them is about the poor shepherd named Meho. While he was tending sheep, he noticed they were grazing around one bush in particular. When he looked underneath it, he found a jar full of golden coins. With that money he paid his University, and became a very successful and educated man in the Empire. In honour of that event, he decided to make the bridge on the same place where he found the gold and named it after his goats. There is also a theory that the Goat’s Bridge was made by Mehmed-pasha Sokolovic (the great vizier of the Ottoman Empire 1565-1579). Bridges constructed during that time period are very similar to the Goat’s Bridge, so the story has some credence.
The architectural concept is inspired by configuration of the terrain. The location is ideal for a bridge by every parameter. The foundation rest on two rocks on each side of the river and the bridge itself spans 17.5 meters. On them, a large pressed vault lays over the river bed, with two circular openings. The vault begins two meters above the normal level of the river Miljacka. The upper part is built of tufa stone, the lower part and frontal walls of the limestone. The average width of the bridge is 4.75m and length is 42m.
Ordinary, yet simple and elegant bridge, leaning on two rocks with graceful structure which takes into account the curviness and form of the surrounding hills and river beneath, the Goat’s Bridge is one of the four oldest bridges in area of Sarajevo which are standing to the present time.
Ms. Irma Hasić is a former student at the Vienna University of Technology , copyedited by Mirza Spužić, former student of Sarajevo’s Faculty of Architecture.
* (N.B. The Bridge Museum’s logo is based on the Goat’s Bridge).