Drina River

Drina River

In West Serbia, only 210 km away from Belgrade, there is a paradise on unspoiled nature, breathtaking mountain peaks and lush forests of the middle flow of the gorgeous Drina river. Drina River originates in Montenegro between the dizzying heights of Sinjajevina Mountain /2277 meters/ and Durmitor Mountain /2520 meters/, joins the Tara and Piva Rivers in Scepan Polje and after 345 km of its course, it empties in Sava River. Drina River with its tributaries cut nearly entire Dinaric mountain system what makes it the richest in the Balkans in terms of the hydro-energetic potentials. When the mighty and restless Drina River was dammed with the Bajina Basta dam of 460 meters in length and 90 meters high, the beautiful Perucac Lake was created in 1966. The Perucac Lake encircles the Tara Mountain and stretches to Visegrad and the famous historical UNESCO protected site described in the novel of Ivo Andric “The Bridge over the Drina River”. Perućac lake is artificial lake fed with waters from Drina River and covers surface of ca 12,4 sq m, with the volume of 340.000.000 sq m and depth of 60 meters. Length of the Perućac Lake is about 54 km, the narrowest width some 150 meters, and it reaches 1000 meters at its widest spot. The border between Republika Srpska in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Republic of Serbia goes through the central part of the Perucac Lake. The Hydro Power Plant in Bajina Basta includes the reversible HE Bajina Basta and the mini HE of Vrelo.

Drina River makes the natural border between Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina and thanks to its natural features is considered one of the most beautiful rivers in Europe. Drina River is mountainous, abundant, green, rapid, wavy river rolling and roaring through the wonderful mountainous landscape, gorges, canyons, forests, dizzying clean air. Drina River basin features canyon-tributaries of extraordinary beauties of the rivers of Rača, Derventa, Nevenski potok spring, Crni potok spring, Brusnica, Žepa and Rzav. The Canyon of Drina River is the third largest canyon in the world, after the Colorado Canyon and the Tara River Canyon in Montenegro. Drina River Canyon spreads along 54 km, and its steep sides on the both river banks are rich in flora and fauna and provides magnificent scenery, that nobody leaves indifferent. Just along the Drina River canyon one reaches on waterway to Visegrad and the famous Old Bridge – Na Drini Ćuprija. Visitors have excellent opportunity to discover this natural wealth by tourist boats, equipped with open decks – terraces for panoramic sightseeing, closed part with bar and toilet and related entertainment through the Drina River Canyon, or to take the adventurous stand up paddling what both provide unique experiences of visitors.

The right side of Drina River is karstic and of extremely steep shore above which rises almost vertically Tara Mountain and its gorgeous observation point of Biljeska Stena /1000 meters altitude/ and Stolac – the natural habitat of Pancic spruce. Tara Mountain created numerous karts springs, among which Perucac spring is most famous. From Perucac originates the tiny Vrelo River, which is only 365 meters long, hence its name “year”. Vrelo River is rich in waters that empty into Drina River along three wonderful waterfalls. There are numerous bridges over Drina River of which is most famous the Old Bridge in Visegrad built in 1571 by Mehmed Pasha Sokolovic that became world-known by the “Bridge over Drina River” novel of Ivo Andric.

The March to the Drina is a Serbian patriotic march which was composed by Stanislav Binicki during WW1. Binički dedicated it to his favourite commander in the Serbian Army, Collonel Milivoje Stojanovic, commander of the Iron Infantry Regiment who had fought in the Battle of Cer, but was killed later in the Battle of Kolubara. The March to the Drina song experienced widespread popularity during and after the war and turn to be seen by Serbs as a symbol of resistance to the Central Powers. Following the WW2, it was popular in Socialist Yugoslavia where a single release in 1964 achieved Gold Record status.

Wild eagles, pigeons, deer, rabbits, wolves, bears – they all go to drink from the Drina River. There are outstanding terrains for fishing especially fly-fishing on Drina River thanks to abundance of fish. Flowing through breathtaking canyons of the Gornja Tresnjica, the river of Drina is flanked with mountain peaks standing over 1000m high that is natural habitat of griffin vultures ! Rafting on Drina River is operated from April until October. Drina River attracts adventure lovers thanks to its extreme sports facilities (“adrenaline festivals”) and the vertical cliffs of Drina River Canyon and its tributaries that are particularly interesting for the mountain climbers and alpinists…

Unfortunately the unimaginable crime against more than 6000 Serbs of the Sarajevo-Romanija region was committed here during the Second World War in Stari Brod by the Ustasha units conducted by colonel Jure Francetic – the regular army of the Independent State of Croatia, whose members were Croats and Muslim soldiers. Stari Brod Memorial with Museum keeping few preserved photographs and a list with the names of the victims along with the consecrated Chapel commemorates this horrific large-scale crime targeting civilians and warns the future generations. Earlier the only way to get from Visegrad to the Stari Brod Memorial Complex was by one of the Visegrad tourist boats or tourist speedboat, but in 2020 a new road to Stari Brod was built along the left bank of the Drina River.

The Ustasha units – Croatian fascists in spring of 1942 started the offensive aiming to kill and persecute the Serbian Orthodox population from the eastern part of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and in order to achieve their objective –mark and keep the border of the Independent State of Croatia on the Drine River. The offensive commenced in March 1942 towards the Drina River by pushing thousands of the Serbian civilians – refugees from the areas of Sarajevo, Pale, Sokolac, Kladanj, Han Pijesak, Rogatica and Visegrad who run in direction of Serbia. Due to the blockade of the Visegrad Bridge by the Italian Nazi forces, it was not possible to cross it so the rows of refugees were trying to escape by moving towards the villages of Milosevici and Stari Brod in order to cross to Serbia by wood rafts. The Ustashas were waiting for the Serb refugees on the inaccessible terrain and along with local Muslims of the Handzar Division attacked them and committed the most brutal atrocities – killing, torture, women rape with throwing victims into the Drina River. The brutal slaughter had happened in Stari Brod and the village of Milosevici in spring of 1942, mostly on the banks of the Drina River, in present Visegrad Municipality. Ustasha units here slaughtered more than 6000 unarmed Serbs, exclusively civilians. One number of the victims was drown in attempt to escape death. The most massive killing of the Serb civilians was performed in March 1942 but atrocities and torture lasted until the beginning of May of the same year. Nothing on this crime was exposed from more than half of a century and only in 2008 there was a Memorial erected, and in 2014 the memorial chapel was consecrated, and in 2019 the Memorial Museum which commemorates the victims was built in Stari Brod.

In the Stari Brod Memorial Museum, 27 sculptures with 39 figures have been placed which symbolize the escape and the entry of Serbian mothers with their children in their arms into the Drina River. The conceptual design of the museum was made by the architect Novica Motika from Zvornik, and the donors of the construction of the museum were Miodrag Davidovic Daka and Spasoje Albijanic. Inside the Stari Brod Memorial museum there are a few preserved photos of crimes in 1942, as well as a list with the names of the victims. One of the specific details of the Stari Brod Memorial museum is the six-step long glass console positioned above the river Drina which symbolically represents the path of suffering, where each step over the water represents a thousand victims. This tragedy and horrific crime in Stari Brod over the Serbian population must not be forgotten. The tragic historical event for the Serbs committed by the units of the Independent State of Croatia is commemorated every year in order to keep memory on the victims and their executors.