The Roman Bridge is one of the four oldest bridges in Sarajevo. Unlike the Šeher-Ćehajina ćuprija, Latinska ćuprija and Kozja ćuprija, which are located on the Miljacka river, the Roman Bridge is located on the river Bosna, the old and abandoned western entrance into Sarajevo. It is the only preserved stone bridge on the Bosna, and it is considered one of the most authentic Ottoman stone bridges in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Remnants of the ancient neolith, Illyrian and Roman settlements are located in the bridge’s vicinity. The most important of these settlements was the Roman settlement “Aquae Sulphurae”, which served as the region’s cultural and administrative centre. Archaeologists have found numerous floor tiles, ceramics, jewellery and coins from that period. According to travelogues, the Roman bridge was “thoroughly rebuilt, if not completely rebuilt from its very foundations” around 1530-1550.
The builder’s identity is unknown, but the number of possibilities have been reduced to three: the great vizier (counsellor in the Ottoman Empire) Rustem-pasha Hrvat, Semiz Ali-pasha or Gazi Ali-pasha. The citizens of Sarajevo had a say in who built it in 1976 – they pleaded to the authorities that Rustem-pasha Hrvat be known as the one who commissioned the bridge. And so it became.
The bridge itself is 52 meters long, 4 ½ metres wide and at its highest point is 4 ½ meters. All of the basic characteristics and bridge-building techniques from Ottoman period have been applied on this bridge. Chiselled slabs of limestone form seven semicircle arches, and the height and width of arches expands towards the middle part of the bridge. The stone fence (“korkaluk”) is visually separated from the frontal wall with a detailed stone cornice. The arches are slightly indented in comparison to the walls. The bridge’s stone slabs are connected with lime mortar, and the fence and vault parts are connected with iron cramps and molten lead. The roadway of the bridge consists of stone tiles (“kaldrma”), and on the fence is stone tile with shallow engravings – a Roman spolia, taken from the remains of ancient buildings in the vicinity. From this Roman link, the bridge derives its name.
author: Dea Dudić, student of Faculty of Architecture, Sarajevo translation and copyediting: Mirza Spužić, student of Faculty of Architecture, Sarajevo