Connecting Islands: The Fascinating Story of Tisno Bridge, Murter

Total Croatia News

Tisno bridge - arround 1920-1930.jpg
Photos courtesy of Tisno Tourist Board

November 11, 2017 – One tiny bridge connects the island of Murter to the world. It has had a rather colourful history so far, as TCN discovered on the recent Gastronaut trip to Tisno.

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 has come and gone during my time on the island (my personal feeling is no, as it would change the essence of Hvar I think, but then I look with a little envy at neighbouring Brac with its new direct flights to Belgium, France and Luxemburg). The seaplanes were (and will be again from April 2018) 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. Many is the time I have 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, with its 24/7 road connection, but in more sober moments, I think I prefer Hvar just the way it is. 

Tisno bridge - arround 1920-1930.jpg

(Tisno bridge in 1920-30)

The issue of islands and connectivity came to the fore once more in Tisno this week, as my hotel view was 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 the three-day Gastronaut trip was Tisno Tourist Director Filip Henjak, and 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. Thank for, Sir, for both this and the excellent hospitality you extended to the Gastronaut team. 


(The 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 in 2014, with some 3 million views…).


Tito and Jovanka in Tisno 1970.jpg

The 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. 

Reconstruction of the bridge 1990.jpg

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. 

Tisno - most - nowdays.jpg

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 entered the 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 islnad. Gorgeous place. 


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