Many customs, traditions and legends are associated with the Drina River. It inspired numerous poems, works of art and a unique, fairytale-like house on a rock. The well-known Serbian writer Ivo Andrić wrote that all Drinas in this world are “crooked” in a way (because the Drina is a winding river) and that people will never manage to set them straight, but that they shouldn’t stop trying nonetheless.
The Legends about the Name
According to tradition, this name comes from old Serbian root der, the base for the verb drati, derati, meaning to tear or break. This word describes the force of water which has the power to tear apart rocks, mountains and land to make its way.
Other legend says that the name comes from old Greek Drinos (Dreinos), which was transformed into Drinus (Drinus) in Ancient Rome. The Romans took the name from the natives.
Some think that the magical river was named after Drinos, a mythical pagan god to whom even human sacrifice was offered.
There is a story which goes as follows when the Turkish emperor Mehmed Faith conquered Bosnia in 1463, the three Кujundžić brothers took him across the river in a small boat. When they were in the middle of the river then called Zelenka or Zelenika (meaning the Green River), his horse fell in the water and drowned; the emperor shouted: Bu su derin, meaning This water is deep. They say that the name comes from the word derin.
People called the river Zelenika and Zelenka or the Green River, because of the vibrant green color of its water. I read somewhere that the color is so intense it seems that a dedicated painter keeps pouring his colour in it.
At times, especially in summer, the Drina becomes bluish like the sea, and even crystal clear in winter.
The Fairytale-Like House on a Rock
The winding river marked the lives of the people who lived on its banks. Many customs, traditions and legends are associated with it. It inspired numerous poems, works of art and a unique, fairytale-like house on a rock.
The fairytale-like sight of a rock with a wooden house and green water surrounding it has become the symbol of the Drina, Bajina Bašta and Western Serbia. It has attracted attention of nature and river lovers since 1968.
The main “culprit” is then seventeen-year-old Milija Mandić who together with his friends designed and built this unusual house on a rock.
The mighty and unpredictable Drina occasionally flooded and destroyed the house, but persistent enthusiasts would soon build a new and prettier one and leave behind a legacy – an idyllic sight showing the unity of man and nature
Are you wondering how come there is a rock in the middle of the impetuous Drina? Legendary Serbian hero Marko Kraljević interfered personally. The hero wanted to cross the river so that his famous horse Šarac doesn’t get wet.
Strong and skilful as he was, Marko Kraljević threw a big rock from the viewpoint named Crvena stena (Red Rock) in the middle of the river. Šarac jumped deftly from one river bank on the rock, rested for a bit, and then jumped on the other bank. Some people claim that you can see Šarac’s hoof print on the rock even today.
The Drina famous
The Drina became famous long time ago. Amazed by its beauty, famous Hollywood actor Robert De Niro named his daughter after this river, Drina. And it hasn’t changed either. It remained authentic, wild, uncontrollable, mysterious… A masterpiece of nature and man.
It came into focus of the media attention and travelers when the photos of the magical house on the rock surrounded with emerald green water were published by the Daily Mail and National Geographic.
Green forest surrounding the river stretched as far as the eye could see.
Emerald green, the shade of green grass, mixed with the shade of moss, olive green, blue-green, apple green, refreshing mint…
The shades of green kept blending in the sun rays, creating a perfect sight, filled with the feelings of balance and the harmony of nature. The chameleon-like river with crystal clear water, billowing quietly and sending a beautiful picture of Serbia to the world.
Author: Rada Sević
Translation: Marija Đurđević