The western gate of the City of Sarajevo: Roman Bridge that was not built by the Romans

Photo: VELIJA HASANBEGOVIĆ

The Roman Bridge, on the River Bosna, not far from the Sarajevo settlement Ilidža, is one of the most beautiful preserved bridges in the BiH capital Sarajevo and its surrounding. Kozija Ćuprija (Goat’s Bridge), in a symbolic sense, represents the eastern gate of the city of Sarajevo, the Roman Bridge is its western gate. Although it was named the Roman Bridge, Romans did not build it.

It is known that in this area, after the conquest of Illyricum, in the first century of our era, the Romans formed a colony. Ilidža is located in the oldest part of the Sarajevo region, where remains of Neolithic, Illyrian and Roman settlements, as well as thermal baths used during the Roman, Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires, as well as in the later period.

Stone Monument

Because of the continuity of life in the area of ​​Ilidža from the Neolithic period, until now, historians assume that there was a bridge on this site that allowed the transition from one side to the other over the Bosna River. For the first time, the Roman Bridge, named for the late-century stone monuments embedded in it, was mentioned in the 16th century, around 1550, by Venetian emissary Katarin Zeno, who wrote that “there is a stone bridge on the Bosna River with seven arches” .

It is believed that the Ottomans built the bridge somewhere in the 16th century on the ruins of Roman buildings, and it is surely known that it was restored by the Ottoman statesman and son-in-law of the old Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent Rustem pasha-Hrvat sometime around 1762 at the request of the inhabitants of Sarajevo. In their request, Sarajevans asked the Bosnian vizier to repair the bridge, and the plea said the following:

“Ulama, aghas and vice viziers approached to this court and stated that the bridge on the main road to Mostar and Travnik near Blažuj, on the River Bosna is damaged and represents for passers-by a great difficulty, especially those who are poor and carry agricultural products and other things to the city. Inhabitants of the surrounding villages are obliged to give the help in the work force and bring the bridge to the original state. This plea is submitted to your excellency (Bosnian Vizier) in order to approve necessary works and means for reparation. 28 May 1762. Sarajevan Qadi Muhammad “.

Only three days later, the Emperor’s commission, made by Sarajevo’s qadi Muhammad, the Sarajevo’s regent Smail-bey and then local architects, with some more respectable personalities, made accounting neccessary for bridge repairs.

Picnic Place

Though once trafficked, today the Roman Bridge is abandoned and stands over the quiet and shallow Bosna on its way to Blažuju, and gives a picture of a long past time.

Throughout the centuries, the Roman Bridge has been restored several times since it has suffered less damage. It does not carry passengers over his back for a long time … Today, just a few curious people, tourists, bikers and local residents cross over to Ilidža.

Sometimes, during beautiful summer days on its coasts, on weekends, it serves as an excursion site for those who enjoy nature and peaceful water. Frequently, on the day of their wedding, couples go to the Roman Bridge while photographers capture their smiles in the river reflection.

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