ZAGREB - Agence France-Presse
Magnificent Century, Hürriyet Photo
The popularity of a Turkish historical soap opera about an Ottoman sultan is boosting efforts to rebuild a bridge from the era in eastern Croatia, officials in the town of Osijek said today.
"The timing for our idea could not have been better. The series helped us to a great extent to get support and increase the interest for the bridge," Sinisa Maurus, one of the leaders of the project, told AFP.
Croatia's RTL commercial television started broadcasting the Turkish-made "Magnificent Century" series a few weeks ago which focuses on the life of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent who ruled the Ottoman empire from 1520 to 1566.
As in other countries in the Balkans formerly under the Ottomans the series detailling the intrigues of Suleiman's harem and court quickly became very popular in Croatia.
The wooden Sultan Suleiman bridge in Osijek, that was eight kilometres (five miles) long and constructed without using any nails, was built on his orders to link the town with nearby Darda across the Drava river and swamps.
The bridge was completely destroyed in 1686 by the army of the Habsburgs who chased the Turks from Croatia.
Maurus' society wants to rebuild the bridge, hoping that it will boost tourism in Osijek.
"We want to return the history, that was unique in this part of Europe," he said. Most of the Balkans region spent some five centuries under Ottoman rule from the 14th century until the 19th century.
Rebuilding the bridge to its original length would require an investment of several million euros (dollars) to be raised through the private sector, Maurus said. The project is backed by both a local tourist board and the Turkish embassy to Croatia and it is hoped to start construction within a year.