Višegrad

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This article is about a place in Bosnia and Hezegovina. For other similarly named places, see Visegrad (disambiguation).
Višegrad
Вишеград
Coat of arms of Višegrad  Вишеград
Coat of arms
Location of Višegrad in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Republika Srpska (blue)
Location of Višegrad in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Republika Srpska (blue)
Coordinates: 43°47′N 19°17′E / 43.783°N 19.283°E / 43.783; 19.283
Country  Bosnia and Herzegovina
Entity  Republika Srpska
Government
 • Mayor Slaviša Mišković SDS
Area
 • Total 448,14 km2 (17,303 sq mi)
Population (2013 census)
 • Total 11,774
 • Density 26,3/km2 (680/sq mi)
Postal code 73240
Area code(s) (+387) 058

Višegrad (Cyrillic: Вишеград, pronounced [ʋǐʃɛɡraːd]) is a town and municipality in eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina resting on the Drina river and in the Republika Srpska entity. The town includes the Ottoman-era Mehmed Paša Sokolović Bridge, an UNESCO world heritage site which was popularized by Nobel prize winning author Ivo Andrić in his novel The Bridge on the Drina. During the Bosnian War the town was one of the scenes of ethnic cleansing and massacres carried out by Bosnian Serb forces against Bosniak civilians, and it saw a drastic decline in its previously majority Bosniak population. Andrićgrad, a future tourist site dedicated to Andrić, is under construction near the bridge. Višegrad is a South Slavic toponym meaning "the upper town/castle/fort".[citation needed] Višegrad is located on the river Drina, on the road from Goražde and Ustiprača towards Užice, Serbia.

History[edit]

Middle Ages[edit]

In the Middle Ages, the entire area became part of the Serbian Empire, under Stefan Nemanja. In the mid 14th century it was under the rule of the Serbian župan Nikola Altomanović. Then the area was occupied by Bosnian King Tvrtko I and joined to the Bosnian Kingdom.[1] During the reign of Serbian Emperor Stephen Dušan (r. 1331-1355), county lord (župan) Pribil held this region. Pribil allegedly founded the Dobrun monastery between 1340 and 1343. Pribil's sons continued to build on the monastery complex, and painted the external narthex and treasury in the northern side by 1383. According to Turkish sources, in 1454, the city was occupied by Ottoman Turks lead by Osman Pasha, and it remained under Ottoman rule until the 1878 Berlin congress, when Austria-Hungary took control of Bosnia.[1]

Bridge on the Drina River at Višegrad.

The bridge known Mehmed Paša Sokolović Bridge in Višegrad was built by the Ottoman architect and engineer Mimar Sinan for the Grand Vizier (of Christian origin) Mehmed Paša Sokolović in 1571. It still stands, and it is now a tourist attraction, after being inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage Site list. Many travelers come to Višegrad simply to take a walk across the famous bridge.

Bosnian War[edit]

Višegrad is one of several towns along the Drina River in close proximity to the Serbian border (then Yugoslavia). The town was strategically important during the conflict. A nearby hydroelectric dam provided electricity and also controlled the level of the Drina River, preventing flooding in areas downstream. The town is situated on the main road connecting Belgrade and Užice in Serbia with Goražde and Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina, a vital link for the Užice Corps of the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) with the Uzamnica camp as well as other strategic locations implicated in the conflict.[2][3]

On 6 April 1992, JNA units began an artillery bombardment of the town, in particular neighbourhoods and nearby villages inhabited by Bosniaks. A group of Bosniak men took several local Serbs hostage and seized control of the hydroelectric dam, threatening to blow it up. One of the men released water from the dam causing flooding to some houses and streets.[3] Eventually on 12 April 1992, JNA commandos seized the dam. The next day the JNA's Užice Corps took control of Višegrad, positioning tanks and heavy artillery around the town. The population that had fled the town during the crisis returned and the climate in the town remained relatively calm and stable during the later part of April and the first two weeks of May.[3] On 19 May 1992 the JNA Užice Corps officially withdrew from the town and local Serb leaders established the Serbian Municipality of Višegrad, taking control of all municipal government offices. Soon after, local Serbs, police and paramilitaries began one of the most notorious campaigns of ethnic cleansing in the conflict, designed to permanently rid the town of its Bosniak population.[3]

There was widespread looting and destruction of Bosniak homes and villages, and Serb soldiers terrorised civilians with instances of rape, with a large number of Bosniak civilians in the town being killed. The Drina was used to dump many of the bodies of Bosniak men, women and children who were killed around the town and on the bridge. Those who were not immediately killed were detained at various locations in the town, including the barracks at Uzamnica, the Vilina Vlas Hotel and other detention sites in the area. The Vilina Vlas hotel also served as a "brothel" camp. Bosniak women and girls, including many not yet 14 years old, were brought to the camp by police officers and members of the paramilitary groups the White Eagles and Arkan's and Vojislav Šešelj's men.[4] Bosniaks detained at the Uzamnica camp were subjected to inhumane conditions, including regular beatings, torture by Bosnian Serbs and strenuous forced labour. Both of the town’s mosques were completely destroyed.[2][3][5] According to documents of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), based on the victims reports, some 3,000 Bosniaks were murdered during the violence in Višegrad and its surroundings, including some 600 women and 119 children.[6][7] According to the Research and Documentation Center, at least 1661 Bosniaks were killed/missing in Višegrad.[8]

With the Dayton Agreement, the peace agreement between the parties which put an end to the three and a half year long war in Bosnia, Bosnia and Herzegovina was divided into two entities, the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Republika Srpska, the latter which Višegrad became part of.

Before the war, 60 percent of Višegrad's 20,000 residents were Bosniak. In 2009, only a handful of survivors had returned to what is now a predominantly Serb town.[9]

Višegrad massacres[edit]

Main article: Višegrad massacres

Bosnian Serb Army and paramilitary forces affiliated with them burned Bosniak civilians alive in houses, slaughtered hundreds of men, women and children and threw them over the famous bridge.[9][10] On 5 August 2001, survivors of the massacre returned to Višegrad for the burial of 180 bodies exhumed from mass graves. The exhumation lasted for two years and the bodies were found in 19 different mass graves.[10] Charges of mass rapes of Bosniak women and girls in Višegrad were not approved against the accused because prosecutors failed to request these charges to be included in a timely manner.[11] Cousins Milan Lukić and Sredoje Lukić were convicted on July 20, 2009 for a 1992 killing spree that included locking Muslims in two houses and burning them alive. At least 119 Muslims, from 2 days old to 75 years, were burned to death. Milan Lukić was sentenced to life in prison Sredoje Lukić to 30 years.[2][12]

Architecture[edit]

Dobrun monastery.

Sport[edit]

The local football club, FK Drina HE Višegrad, plays in the First League of the Republika Srpska.

Culture[edit]

Višegrad has the so-called "Home of Culture", opened in 1953, where film projections and all other cultural activities are, including drama studio. Also, city gallery was opened in 1996, and its located in the Home of Culture.[14] In addition, Višegrad has two folklore ensembles, KUD "Bikavac" and SSD "Soko".[15]

Population[edit]

At the 1991 census, the municipality of Visegrad had a population of 21,199 inhabitants:[16]

Census in the municipality of Višegrad
Year 1991. 1981. 1971.
Bosniaks 13,471 (63.54%) 14,397 (62.05%) 15,752 (62.04%)
Serbs 6,743 (31.80%) 7,648 (32.96%) 9,225 (36.33%)
Croats 32 (0.15%) 60 (0.25%) 68 (0.26%)
Yugoslavs 319 (1.50%) 758 (3.26%) 141 (0.55%)
Others 634 (3.37%) 338 (1.45%) 203 (0.79%)
Total 21,199 23,201 25,389

At the 1991 census, the town of Visegrad had a population of 6,902 inhabitants:[16]

Višegrad
Year 1991. 1981. 1971.
Bosniaks 3,463 (50.17%) 2,854 (47.66%) 2,429 (49.91%)
Serbs 2,619 (37.94%) 2,446 (40.84%) 2,141 (43.99%)
Croats 23 (0.33%) 52 (0.86%) 53 (1.08%)
Yugoslavs 270 (3.91%) 518 (8.65%) 107 (2.19%)
others 527 (7.63%) 118 (1.97%) 136 (2.79%)
total 6,902 5,988 4,866

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 43°46′58″N 19°17′28″E / 43.78278°N 19.29111°E / 43.78278; 19.29111