Visegrad

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Višegrad is a town in eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina resting at the confluence of the Drina and the Rzav river. The town includes the Ottoman-era Mehmed Paša Sokolović Bridge, a UNESCO world heritage site which was popularized by Nobel prize-winning author Ivo Andrić in his novel The Bridge on the Drina.

A tourist site called Andrić Grad (Andrić's Town), dedicated to Andrić, is located near the bridge. The Mehmed Paša Sokolović Bridge was built by the Ottoman architect and engineer Mimar Sinan for Grand Vizier Sokollu Mehmed Pasha. Construction of the bridge took place between 1571. and 1577. It still stands, and it is now a tourist attraction, after being inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage Site list.

Top sights:

Upper Castle

After the Mongol invasion, King Bela IV of Hungary and his wife had a new fortification system constructed in the 1240-50s near the one destroyed earlier. The first part of the new system was the Upper Castle on top of a high hill. The castle was laid out on a triangular ground plan and had three towers at its corners. In the 14th century, at the time of the Angevin kings of Hungary, the castle became a royal residence and was enlarged with a new curtain wall and palace buildings. Around 1400. King Sigismund had a third curtain wall constructed and enlarged the palace buildings. At the end of the 15th century, King Matthias Corvinus had the interior renovated. The Upper Castle also served for the safekeeping of the Hungarian royal insignia between the 14th century and 1526. In 1544. Višegrad was occupied by the Ottoman Empire, and, apart from a short period in 1595.-1605, it remained in Turkish hands until 1685. The castle was seriously damaged by the Turks and was never used afterwards. The castle is now open to the public to visit.

Lower Castle

The Lower Castle is the part of the fortification system that connects the Upper Castle with the Danube. In its centre rises the Solomon Tower, a large, hexagonal residential tower dating from the 13th century. In the 14th century, new curtain walls were built around the tower. During a Turkish raid in 1544., the southern part of the tower collapsed. Its renovation began only in the 1870s and was finished in the 1960s. At present, the Tower houses exhibitions installed by the King Matthias Museum of Višegrad. The exhibitions present the reconstructed Gothic fountains from the Royal Palace, Renaissance sculpture in Višegrad, and the history of Višegrad.

Royal Palace

The first royal house on this site was built by King Charles I of Hungary after 1325. In the second half of the 14th century, this was enlarged into a palace by his son, King Louis I of Hungary. In the last third of the 14th century, King Louis and his successor Sigismund of Luxembourg had the majority of the earlier buildings dismantled and created a new, sumptuous palace complex, the extensive ruins of which are still visible today. The palace complex was laid out on a square ground plan measuring 123x123 m. A garden adjoined to it from the north and a Franciscan friary, founded by King Sigismund in 1424, from the south. In the time of Louis I and Sigismund, the palace was the official residence of the kings of Hungary until about 1405-08. Between 1477. and 1484. Matthias Corvinus had the palace complex reconstructed in late Gothic style. The Italian Renaissance architectural style was used for decoration, the first time the style appeared in Europe outside Italy. After the Ottoman Turks' siege in 1544., the palace fell into ruins. By the 18th century it was completely covered by earth. Its excavation began in 1934. and continues today. The reconstructed royal residence building is open to the public and houses exhibitions on the history of the palace and reconstructed historical interiors.

Sibrik Hill

The ruins of this military camp can be seen outside Višegrad, to the north, on a hill that overlooks the Danube. The camp has a triangular ground plan. It was built in the first half of the 4th century as one of the important fortifications along the limes, the frontier of the Roman Empire. Its praetorium (the commander's building) was constructed at the end of the 4th century. In the early 5th century, the Roman army abandoned the military camp. In the 10th and 11th centuries, the fortification, rebuilt as a castle, became a regional centre of the recently formed Hungarian state. "Višegrad" appears for the first time as the name of this regional centre (1009). The fortification was finally destroyed in 1242. by the Mongol invasion of Europe.

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