Tara River Bridge
Rafting in Montenegro

Tara River Bridge:  facts and pictures of one of world’s tallest bridges, scenic pictures of Tara River and Canyon and info about Tara rafting adventures...

Introduction to Tara

Tara River - born at the foothills of Komovi Mountains range, with its length of 144 km (89 miles) is the longest river in Montenegro. Well, obviously Tara’s length is not so impressive and is not the reason for glory as well as dedication of this site :-)

What really makes the Tara River worldwide famous is the canyon carved through the mountains’ range over millions of years.

Indeed it is one of the deepest canyons in the world in several places exceeding 1000 meters (3300 ft) depth.

But even this impressive number is still not the main reason why Tara gained its fame.

The truth is – Tara Canyon is one of only few among world’s deepest river canyons that allows for rafting all along its 82km (48 miles) length.

With the average drop in elevation of 3.6 m/km (about 19 ft/mile) over its course down the gorge the Tara River runs through several world-class cascades and rapids.

Map of Montenegro - a small Balkan country bordering BiH, Serbia and Albania known for its beautiful landscape of mountains and lakes and picturesque coastal line with "jewels" cities of Kotor, Budva, Herceg Novie, Sveti Stefan..... The location of the Tara Bridge is marked on the map by the orange dot.

Source: Tourism Office - Montenegro

     Along the canyon, numerous water-plentiful springs end their runs in Tara in spectacular waterfalls. The most impressive are Bajlovic Falls, plunging 30 meters (100 ft) into the Tara River.

Green lush vegetation with famous black pines (hence the name Montenegro or in the local language Cerna Gora - Black Mountain) makes the canyon a lively place.

Tara River Canyon - view from the bridge.

Summarizing - breathtaking vistas, caves, water abundant springs and waterfalls, amazingly blue color of water, gentle valleys and dramatic cliffs – all in the pristine environment protected by the laws of Durmitor National Park, create a paradise not only for rafting aficionados, but also for trekkers or just visitors.

Tara River in all its beauty: azure-blue waters, sharp cliffs and lush vegetation – do you need more?

Facts about the bridge.

Well, after this introduction to the spectacular work of the Mother Nature it is time to present equally impressive human efforts and ingenuity – the Tara Bridge spanning the famous canyon.

The project of bridge was a work of Serbian architect Mijat Trojanovič. For the record - construction started in 1938 and was completed in 1940 with the final cost only slightly exceeding the initial budget!

While this sentence reveals the facts, it does not reflect the gigantic scale of engineering tasks undertaken by constructors. Lack of sophisticated equipment (available today) and simplicity of manual tools had to be compensated by skills, cleverness, originality and courageous hard work.

Inscription plaque on the stone wall next to the bridge shows the following:
Constructed in 1938-40
Designer: Prof. Eng. Mijat S. Trojanovič
The plaque also shows the profile of the Tara Canyon at the location of the bridge.

The bridge was designed as a combination of the main arch 136 meters (448 ft) long over the Tara River, and a viaduct composed of four arches of 44 meters (145 ft) each at the approach to the bridge from the west side followed by an extra 51m (167 ft) beam construction making connection with the road. The total length of the bridge over the Tara Canyon reaches 365 meters (400 yards).

      The trickiest part of the project was construction of the main arch “suspended” about 150 meters above the river’s level. Its right footing was anchored deeply into the cliff on the right river bank, while for the foundation of the left one a rocky mound “Čuvik” sticking up from the bottom of the canyon was chosen. This was quite risky decision because Čuvik had a large crack raising doubts about its strength and long term stability (for fainthearted tourists wishing to cross the bridge – Čuvik’s crack was plugged with a special kind of concrete then reinforced and so far it holds well).

View from the south-western side of the canyon.

    The framework supporting construction of the main arch was an example of an “engineering art” on its own. It was made from the juniper wood and assembled piece by piece on a huge specially cleared field near the bridge. Pieces were labeled, then the whole structure was taken apart for the final assembling process in the canyon. At the time it was the biggest wooden construction in the world (and frankly it may still keep this record because construction methods and techniques dramatically changed since those times).

Well, since long the supporting framework is gone, the memory about it faded down with time, but the Tara Bridge is still standing there providing the crucial road connection in Montenegro.

It is worth to note that at the time of completion, the Tara Bridge was a biggest-tallest vehicular concrete arch bridge in Europe.

      During the WWII Yugoslavian partisans destroyed one of four arches of the bridge to prevent Italian Army from crossing the Tara River. Heartbreaking part of the story is that the dynamiting was carried out by the chief engineer of the Tara Bridge project – Lazar Jaukovic – the man who rightly can claim the bridge to be his “child”. Certainly, destroying the “lifetime achievement” and Engineering Marvel was already a traumatizing moment. But in the unfortunate twist of fate, life wrote even more tragic scenario, soon after L. Jaukovic was captured by Italians and executed on the ruins of the bridge. One could say – the bridge gave him “immortality”, but then took his earthly life.

Monument to the Chief Engineer Lazar Jaukovic (executed on the bridge on August 2, 1942 by Italian soldiers)

The monument on the western side of the bridge pays homage to this great engineer and brave man.

The destroyed arch was rebuilt after the war and the bridge was re-opened for the traffic in 1946. The reconstruction work was carried out by Isaac Russo (former manager of the project).

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View on the bridge and canyon

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View on the bridge arches in a sunny summer day...

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View from the bridge on Tara River Canyon and surrounding mountains

These days, almost every driver crossing this bridge stops at the nearby parking and sipping the coffee at the scenically located restaurant’s terrace takes time gazing at this beautiful creation of Nature and Humans.

It is worth to note that the Tara River is a tributary of the Drina River, known for another engineering marvel – a 16th century -->  Stone bridge in Visegrad.

The Bridge called Mehmed Paša Sokolović bears the name of Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire who commissioned its construction.

More fun - Rafting and jumping

Tara River is definitely one of these “not-to-miss” places for lovers of extreme sports. World-class rafting tours from half-day to few days (over the distances from 15 to 82 km) are offered by all local travel agencies. Given the fact that most of Montenegro’s territory experiences mountainous climate, the Tara’s rafting season begins in May and ends in October.

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Tara River next to the Splaviste Camp.

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The beauty of the nature deeply touches not only all our senses but also the souls.....

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Tara River as it flows next to the bridge....

     Along the Tara’s Canyon there are about 50 rapids (20 of them are in the first half-day rafting section). Some of them are “quite difficult” (or in other words “highly rated” by specialists).

For some it may be helpful to know that during the late summer season, usually Tara’s water level is lower reducing also dangers from turbulent waters.

Most trips start from the “Splaviste Camp” - about 1.6km (1 mile) up the river from the Tara Bridge.

The place – representing a kind of oasis “In the middle of Nature” is so beautiful that even if you did not sign up for a rafting trip, you should visit it!

And if rafting is not enough to raise your adrenaline level, you may try Bungee Jumping organized on the main arch of the bridge, right above the water of the Tara River (it is not a permanent setting so please check for availability and schedules with the tourist agency).

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