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TWO COUNTRIES, TWO TOWNS, ONE RIVER, ONE HEART: The amazing story of TWO ZVORNIKS!

If you go from Mali Zvornik, a town in Western Serbia on the bank of the beautiful Drina River, 100 meters away, across the bridge, you will need to contact the border guards, who will ask for your ID if you are a citizen of Serbia or Bosnia and Herzegovina, or a passport, if you are a foreign tourist.

But once you cross, everything is, more or less, the same. People, language, kindness, vehicles, and even prices. Mali Zvornik, and Zvornik, a town in neighboring Bosnia and Herzegovina, are in reality one city on two banks of the Drina River.

Every year, in August, to commemorate this uniqueness, the event “People and Bridges” is held. At 12 o’clock at the old iron bridge “King Aleksandar Karadjordjevic”, the mayors of Zvornik and Mali Zvornik meet and shake hands, right in the middle.

Otherwise, on August 12, 2019, the reconstruction of this bridge began, a bridge that connects the two cities, and is crossed by thousands upon thousands of people every day.

Otherwise, it is very common for residents of the two cities, Mali Zvornik and Zvornik, to have close relatives in the other city. Because of all this, the locals often say “Eastern Zvornik” and “Western Zvornik”.

By the way, the “bigger brother” is also the older brother: Mali Zvornik (Little Zvornik) is named after Zvornik, and Zvornik is named after the bell tower of the 13th century church. People lived here in the Bronze Age, and Roman roads led here. It is well known that one road station, called Ad Drinum, was located exactly where Mali Zvornik is today.

Greater Zvornik, the one across from the Drina, was a large settlement and market where lead and silver mined in the surrounding mines of Bosnia and Serbia were traded. Back then, Zvornik was located on the left and right side of the Drina.

The division of one city into two states, if we may call it that, begins in the tenth century, when the Serbian state was divided into Raska and Bosnia and the border was on the Drina River. At the time, everyone on the left coast was in the state of Bosnia and everyone on the right was in Raska.

Djuradj Brankovic, the last great Serbian ruler before the collapse of the medieval Serbian state, tried to fortify as many cities as possible, one of them being Zvornik, in which the population then engaged in trade, agriculture, crafts and mining.

During the Ottoman rule, which lasted from the 15th to the 19th century, Zvornik belonged to the Herzegovina sandzak. In the early times of Turkish rule, only Serbs lived here, but with Islamization and persecution, Zvornik soon became a true Turkish and Muslim city.

Austria was helping Serbia liberate some parts of the territory from the Turks, and Serbs from Montenegro and Herzegovina were massively settling near the Drina, in the 18th and 19th century. This was one of the most active areas in the uprising against the Turks in the early nineteenth century, and Mali Zvornik, then a Muslim settlement, was among the last to officially belong to Serbia, only in 1878.

(This is part of the Mali Zvornik project – the big heart of the Drina River and was co-financed by the municipality of Mali Zvornik.

(Come to Serbia)

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