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Monastery of Kraljeva Sutjeska and the royal town of Bobovac

About 12 kilometers northeast of Kakanj there is Kraljeva Sutjeska. From the Sarajevo-Zenica Road, near Ćatići, the road leads to the inhabited place of Kraljeva Sutjeska (Sutiska), which is located at an altitude of about 500 meters. Kraljeva Sutjeska is at the bottom of a funnel-shaped basin through which the river Trstionica passes, and which is surrounded by the slopes of Teševsko brdo on one side and the slopes of Ježevica on the other. It is best to approach Kraljeva Sutjeska from the side of Kakanj.

Dr. Ćiro Truhelka claimed that in the Trstivnica parish in the village of Zgošća (now Kakanj) there was a cradle and a cemetery of the first Kotromanićs, and that Ban Prijezda was buried under the Zgošća tombstone (stećak). There is a version that says that the name Sutiska came about because the settlement lies in a narrow valley. In the old days, it was called Curia Bani, which means ban’s court, because it was home to the Kotromanić bans, later the Kotromanićs would grow into a royal dynasty.

Jewelry making

Historians assume that the town of Desnek was located here from the time of Constantine Porphyrogenet. Traces of antiquity were found only in Bobovac. But it is most likely that the first buildings in Sutjeska were built at the time of Ban Stjepan II Kotromanić. A Franciscan monastery was built there next to the court in the mid-14th century. In Kraljeva Sutjeska there is also a richly decorated stećak belonging to Ban Stjepan Kotromanić.

In the 14th century, about twenty fortified cities were built in Bosnia, mostly with a strategic and political goal, but they certainly permeated the cultural spheres of life as well. The rapidly developing construction activity represents a process of great cultural importance. The artistic content of the tombstones from the royal tombs on Bobovac surpasses all similar monuments of their time from the territory of the Hungarian-Croatian state. Metal processing has reached a high level, the tradition of jewelry making is especially famous. It is certainly worth mentioning the production of richly decorated traditional clothing, the wide use of glass, as well as special types of ceramics, which all speak of the high aesthetic criteria of that era.

The Franciscan monastery is the oldest institution in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and it was mentioned for the first time in the list of the Franciscan writer Bartolo Pisanski entitled “De conformity vitae B. Francisci” from 1385. The assumption is that the Franciscans built their first monastery in this place in 1340. It was destroyed and rebuilt and expanded several times during the wars. In 1888, it was decided to demolish the old monastery building in order to build a new council, the one we remember.

Royal Tombs

The church was built from 1906 to 1908, according to designs of the architect Josip Vancaš, the builder of both the Sarajevo Cathedral and the monastery in Fojnica, as a three-nave basilica in a neo-Renaissance style. Vancaš was the first in our region to use reinforced concrete, including this church. The oldest organ in Bosnia and Herzegovina is also located there. This monastery also has a very rich library, with the largest collection of incunabula kept in one place in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and representative items from the total fund of the monastery are displayed in the museum space of the monastery building as a permanent exhibition.

The road from Kraljeva Sutjeska to Bobovac is in very bad condition, so it is recommended to approach it from the direction of Vareš. In recent decades, only the burial chapel has been renovated, while the rest of the buildings are waiting for better times to restore their former glory. Data from written sources during the Bosnian medieval state covers the period from 1350 to 1463, while documents from the Ottoman period go back to 1626, when it was abandoned, because it lost its strategic importance with the advance of the Ottomans to the north and the expansion of the occupied territory.

Three royal tombs were found in the chapel, there were three tombs in the portico, and another brick tomb along the northern wall. One belongs to King Stjepan Tomaš, and the other probably to Queen Doroteja Gorjanska. From a tourist point of view, the location of Bobovac itself is practically undeveloped, because there are no catering offers or souvenir sales, except at the entrance to the complex.

Author: Tarik Dreca