2006 World Monuments Watch
Spanning the waters of the Drina River, the sixteenth-century Mehmed-Pasha Sokolovic Bridge was designed by Sinan (1489–1588), considered by many to have been the finest architect of the Ottoman Empire. The subject of Ivo Andric’s 1945 Nobel Prize-winning book The Bridge on the Drina, the bridge retains much of its original fabric despite being damaged during WWI and WWII and subsequently restored. The more recent construction of two hydroelectric power plants and a reservoir nearby, together with sub-surface instability, however, have caused the water level of the Drina to rise, straining the load-bearing capacity of the bridge pillars. The substantial erosion of the submerged sections of the pillars and their bases threatens the stability of the entire structure.
Since the Watch
In 2007 Turkey announced an agreement to help Bosnia restore the Mehmed-Paša Sokolović Bridge. Later that year, the site was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List noting its extraordinary engineering achievements and its representation of cross-cultural exchanges in bridge technology over time. The World Heritage citation also makes clear the importance of the site as a crossroads of religious and cultural values over centuries, which influended the development of the region. . The Serbian Ministry of Mines and Energy convened a bi-national Serb and Bosnian working group to analyze the impact of power generation operations on the Drina River – the threat that WMF had called attention to in the 2006 Watch. More recently, the Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency announced €3.5 million in funding for the restoration of the bridge. Last update: December 2010