Legendary Bosnian narrow-gauge train ‘Ćiro’ in Višegrad

Ljiljana Krejic | Live the World

November 23, 2022

Whether an old railways enthusiast or just a curious explorer of the unbeaten paths, this story will inspire you to pin Bosnia & Herzegovina, Europe’s last undiscovered gem, on your bucket list. When it comes to trains, their history and legends, this country hides one of the most attractive parts of the old railways in Europe. And it is not only about the old rails but also about the old trains. Accompanied by stunning movie-like sceneries in the surroundings of Višegrad, the loveliest town in Bosnia, this ride is worth every try. On the narrow-gauge railroad from Višegrad to Morka Gora (in Serbia), you will feel like entering the time machine and going back at least a century ago. During the ride, you will discover why a legendary Bosnian narrow-gauge train ‘Ćiro’ is a real attraction in Višegrad.

The most expensive railway in the early 1900s

The narrow-gauge railroad from Višegrad to Vardište belonged to the former East Bosnian railway, which was an essential part of the narrow-gauge line that connected two big cities of the region Sarajevo and Belgrade. Built between 1903 and 1906, by Austro-Hungarian empire, this was one of the most expensive railways in the early 1900s. The whole construction cost 75 million gold crowns or one kilogram of gold per one meter of the railway. Actually, the strategic position of Višegrad, which was on the border with Serbia was behind the motivation of Austro-Hungarians. However, only in 1925, after the WWI, the railroad was officially open and functioning. For almost 50 years this railway played an important role in connecting Bosnia and Serbia before it was closed in 1974 due to profitability reasons.

Transforming a railroad into a touristic attraction


Photo credits to the Tourism organization of Višegrad

The idea of reconstructing one part of the former railway only for tourists was always present, but it took 30 years to implement it. On the side of Serbia, this happened in 2003, when the railroad from Mokra Gora to Vitasi, known as “the Šargan eight” was renovated and transformed into a touristic attraction. In Bosnia, thanks to the investments of the government of Republic of Srpska (one of the entities in the country) all the reconstructing works were completed by 2010, when the first & legendary narrow-gauge train ‘Ćiro’ arrived from Mokra Gora to Višegrad. Since then, the train is connecting those two places, not on a regular basis, but on a request for organized tours, since some works are necessary in the future.

‘Ćiro’ was a part of everyone’s life


Photo credits to the Tourism organization of Višegrad

The train, whose official name is ‘Nostalgia’, among Bosnian people is affectionately called ‘Ćiro’. And it actually tells the nostalgic story intertwined with the history of the region. For many generations, this train was a part of everyone’s life. Decades ago ‘Ćiro’ was transporting workers, farmers, children, students, tourists, but also mail, livestock, coal and food. Despite a dense cloud of smoke and a specific smell, both travelers and people who lived by the railway roads liked it. ‘Ćiro’ was part of people’s life stories and experiences. Therefore, a scenic railway ride with a legendary Bosnian narrow-gauge train ‘Ćiro’ in Višegrad is much more than just a journey. It is an exceptional time travelling experience where you can feel how the railroad life looked like once upon a time.

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