Connecting Islands: The Story of Tisno Bridge

Paul Bradbury

tisno bridge
All images: TZ Tisno

April the 22nd, 2024 – The tiny Tisno bridge connects the island of Murter to the rest of the world. It has had a rather colourful history so far…

Having lived on Hvar for 14 years, the issue of islands and connectivity is one which is close to my heart. Should Hvar build an airport to improve accessibility? This is a debate that came and went during my time on the island. The seaplanes were a total winner for me, and being able to leave my house in Jelsa for the short walk to the Jelsa terminal and be in Split just 40 minutes later was a game changer. While it lasted. 

And then there are bridges. I’ve missed the last ferry from Split to Stari Grad after one final drink too many and wished that Hvar was like the island of Krk may times. Krk has its 24/7 road connection, but in more sober moments, I think I prefer Hvar just the way it is. 

Tisno Bridge in around 1920-1930

The issue of islands and connectivity has repeatedly come to the fore in Tisno, as my hotel view is always of the tiny bridge which connects the idyllic island of Murter to the mainland. My Croatian geography is not what it should be, and I have always been confused by both Tisno and Murter. Was Murter a town or an island (it is both) and was Tisno located on an island or the mainland (Tisno municipality is on both – connected by a bridge)?

Islands and connectivity. Our outstanding host and guide for one three-day Gastronaut trip long ago was Filip Henjak. He very kindly took an interest in my mild bridge obsession, and not only explained a little of its history, but then followed through by sharing these great photos.

Tisno Bridge in 1960

The distance between the island of Murter and the mainland is just 38 metres, and the first bridge was built in the 18th century. As you can see from this great picture above circa 1920 and 1930, a part of the bridge was retractable, allowing shipping to pass through, something which is still the case today (and we shall see below how that fact made Tisno bridge a viral YouTube hit back in 2014, with some 3 million views…).

Tisno bridge’s first claim to notoriety came in 1970, when Tito and wife Jovanka came to visit Murter and Kornati. Tito had to leave his famous Cadillac on the mainland and walk the short distance over the wooden bridge with his wife. It was an eventful stroll for Jovanka, who got one of her heels stuck in the gaps in the bridge’s wooden construction, a happening that resulted in Tito apparently ordering the bridge to be asphalted, so that such an occurrence could not happen again. 

The bridge was reconstructed in 1990-1, as the clouds of regional war appeared on the horizon. It was apparently the last investment by the State of Former Yugoslavia in the Adriatic coast, and JNA Yugoslav army provided a pontoon bridge to assist while the bridge was completed. While the JNA were guarding their pontoon and watching the new bridge being constructed, the conflict which was to last four years was breaking out. 

Just over a quarter of a century later, life is a lot more peaceful thankfully, and this is how the Tisno bridge looks today when open for nautical traffic. 

But the story does not end there…

In 2014, a female driver missed the red traffic light and went onto Tisno bridge as it was rising to allow the boats to pass. Around three million people around the world saw what happened next – you can too by watching the video above. 

Bur for a more tranquil appreciation of how this versatile bridge with its colourful past services the needs of both motorists and sailors, this wonderful video shows the Tisno bridge in all its functional glory

And the best place to observe the Tisno bridge in action? I had a true bird’s eye view from my hotel room at Hotel Borovnik, above. 

The Tisno bridge is just one of many fascinating stories and things to see on the island of Murter. With so much colour and history on the entrance bridge, imagine what else awaits you in Tisno and elsewhere on the island. Gorgeous place. 


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