Old Town Tešanj: Fortress that resisted Eugene of Savoy

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Stari grad Tešanj FOTO: VELIJA HASANBEGOVIĆ

The old town of Tešanj was built on the top of a rocky hill, along the river Tešanjka. The fortress consists of two towers and the inhabitants of this small town in Central Bosnia call it Gradina, and it exists full three millennia in this place. The Tešanj fortress, after the one in Jajce, is considered one of the largest fortresses in B&H.

When it comes to the name of the city of Tešanj there is a presumption that it has Celtic origin and the word “Tesen”, which means “Little Palace”. That is a pre-Roman period, and it is well known that the Romans in this area had their own refugium (fortification).

Two towers

After the big intrusion of Eugene Savoy in 1697, who set Sarajevo on fire, in November 1697, the Austrian army, led by Savoy, the same year carried out the siege of the fortress in Tešanj.

Heavy siege of the fortress and town was completed in 1697 after unsuccessful three-day attacks, and the Austrian army withdrew in the direction of Slavonia. It is interesting that Gradina through history, in military terms, has never been conquered, because the geostrategic position is such that all those who tried to take it eventually withdrew.

The upper part of the fortress is called Captain’s Tower (Kapetanova kula) and there is written evidence from 1461 in which the then and last king of the medieval Bosnian kingdom, Stjepan Tomasevic, gives the tower to his brother Radivoje.

The second tower is called Dizdar’s Tower (Dizdareva kula) and was built in 1747, and the lower part, below the tower, was built in the Ottoman period. In the Dizdar’s Tower there is a permanent exhibition of the Museum of Tešanj. This Tower got the name after „dizdar“ – manager of the tower.

The captain who was sitting at the top of the tower guided the whole fortress, and dizdar guided the tower crew. There were infantry soldiers who were responsible for the defense of the city. The permanent historical setting “Tešanj Through Centuries, from 15th Century to 1918” contains exhibits that the Museum collected, something was received as a gift, and some exhibits were purchased.

Museum items

Some of the exhibits are: silver set gold plated from 1830, Ottoman saber Shamsi or Lion’s tail, Hebrew manuscript (the story of Esther, the wife of the Persian Emperor Xerxes the First), fictional work in manuscript, in Arabic (a collection of Sufi songs), Record of baptized people from Komušina parish (1699-1720), etc, Ottoman jewelry, watches, boots, knives, original budget proposal and seals from 1908, photograph of Musa Ćazim Ćatić …

Money from the Roman Empire, the money of the Middle Ages, the coin of the Ottoman Empire, the money of the Habsburg monarchy and the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Novels and coins of the new era, and the coins of the 20th century are exposed in Captain’s Tower. In addition, banknotes of the Ottoman period, Austro-Hungarian monarchy and banknotes from the world (Albania Bank, Romanian Bank, Turkey …) are also exposed.