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Crossing time: The fascinating story behind Sarajevo Latin bridge

Latin bridge is a bridge from the Ottoman era over the Miljacka River. There are many bridges on the Miljacka River, but this one has an interesting history. It is also known as the bridge near which the Austrian heir to the throne Franz Ferdinand was killed, which started the First World War.

Latin bridge in the winter
Latin bridge in the winter

This bridge is one of the oldest bridges in Sarajevo. It changed over time, from the first wooden bridge, which stood in the same place, to its present form.

History and bridge’s name

The first bridge in this place was made of wood and is mentioned in 1541. It was built by some leather-worker Husein. The stone bridge was built by eminent citizen Ali Ajni-bey of Sarajevo in 1565. The flood that hit Sarajevo in 1791 damaged the bridge, and funds for its restoration were allocated by Hadži Abdullah Briga. Reconstruction followed in 1798/99. Local craftsmen participated in the restoration, as mentioned in the documents of the time.

It is believed that the bridge had four pillars on which lay five arches, but with the regulation of Miljacka in the 19th century, one pillar is walled up, and the bridge remains with four arches. During the Austro-Hungarian era, cantilever sidewalks were added to the bridge. It was built of travertine and limestone.

Latin bridge in 1913
Latin bridge in 1913

The bridge received its name because it connected the right bank of the Miljacka with the Catholic quarter of the city, which was informally called “Latinluk” in Ottoman times (the Catholic population is called the Latins). Therefore, the bridge was named the Latin bridge.

Change of the name

On June 28, 1914, at the turning from the Right Bank into a street Gavrilo Princip shot and killed Franz Ferdinand, heir presumptive to the Austro-Hungarian throne. This was the immediate cause of the beginning of the First World War.

Although people often mention the Latin bridge as the place of the assassination, the murder did not happen there. Namely, Gavrilo Princip shot Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sofia while they were in the car, so that scene could not take place on the bridge where there is not enough room for both the car and the pedestrians on the side. However, the murder happened near the bridge.

Artistic rendering of the Sarajevo Assassination
Artistic rendering of the Sarajevo Assassination

After First World War Bosnia and Herzegovina become part of Kingdom of Yougslavia. In that time the bridge was renamed Princip during the Yugoslavian era. Reason for change of the name was the fact thar Princip was hero for the new gouverment. The station was that Princip liberated country from Austro-Hungarian monarchy. The name returned to the Latin Bridge after the Yugoslav wars in 1990s.

Next to the bridge, there was also a monument to Ferdinand and Sofia, but it was demolished by the authorities of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1918.

Bridge today

Latin Bridge today
Latin Bridge today

Today, the bridge is once again called the Latin Bridge. As it is located near the museum dedicated to the Austro-Hungarian administration in Bosnia Herzegovina, built next to the assassination site, it is a frequent stop for tourists. The bridge was reconstructed in 2003/2004.

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