Witnesses of a powerful, medieval state: Following the traces of the Bosnian kingdom

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Tragovima Bosanskog kraljevstva FOTO: VELIJA HASANBEGOVIĆ

The Bosnian kingdom is a state that existed in the Balkans from the second half of the 14th century to the second half of the 15th century, covering mainly the areas of today’s Bosnia and Herzegovina, but in some period parts of neighboring countries as well. During King Tvrtka I, the Bosnian kingdom was the most powerful Balkan state.

The greatest military, economic and territorial expansion is experienced during King Tvrtko I Kotromanić when the borders of the Bosnian state expanded to Zadar in Dalmatia, Sandžak and Montenegro. The medieval Bosnian state was the first Balkan country to use firearms, and a gold coin with a coat of arms with lilies on it, which was four times larger than Venetian. During this period, many fortresses were built, whose remains are still visible today. We present only some of them.

Čajangrad, Visoko

At the time of the medieval Bosnian kingdom, the Visoko valley was a significant trading, economic and cultural center, and Visoko was the university center of the Bosnian Church. The old town of Čajangrad is a medieval fortress and an archaeological site that once protected Bobovac from the enemy. In the vicinity of the settlement is the locality of Mila, which is considered to have been one of the core places of the Bosnian kings, and the findings so far confirmed the presence of Stjepan II Kotromanić and Tvrtko Kotromanić, who was crowned and buried there (at the church of St. Nicholas). The creation of the Kulin Ban Charter, a document written in Bosnian that dates back to 1189, in which the Bosnian Ban Kulin confirms the commercial agreement between Bosnia and the Republic of Dubrovnik, is bound to Mile.

Vranduk, Zenica

Medieval Fortress Vranduk is one of the most well preserved fortifications placed outside the city on a natural elevation above the river of Bosnia that surrounds it from three sides. Vranduk was the seat of many Bosnian kings and King Stjepan Tomaš’s royal seat. Vranduk has a smaller museum collection that testifies to the life of Vranduk, fantastically preserved walls and a smaller catering facility for refreshment.

Bobovac, Vareš

Stjepan Kotromanić built the royal Bobovac town in the mid-14th century as a refuge of the nobility. There is a mausoleum in Bobovac, which belonged to the complex of fortifications, in which three kings – Stjepan Ostoja, Tvrtko II Kotromanić and Stjepan Tomaš – were buried.

Kraljeva Sutjeska, Kakanj

Kraljeva Sutjeska was the capital of Tomaš and the Tvrtko Kotromanić and the Queen Katarina, who is still mourned by women of Kraljeva Sutjeska who are wearing black scarves in her memory as part of traditional costumes. The monastery, which consists of a church, museum and library, was built at the beginning of the 14th century and represents the BH history at the end of the 15th century. The monastery complex features a Venetian-style church with beautiful icons, a statue of Queen Katarina and the oldest pipe organ in B&H, a large number of valuable art paintings, a collection of incunabula – a collection of 31 books that date back to the 15th century and an ethnographic collection of artistic artefacts.

Maglaj

Medieval Maglaj leaves the trace in more than 100 tombstones, many of which are destroyed, as well as the Maglaj fortress from the late 13th century, which had a defensive role in the fight against invaders. With the arrival of the Ottomans, the fortress was upgraded and a clock tower built in the 17th century. Stone balls, whose origin and purpose are not known, date from a period before the new era. One of these balls was exhibited in front of the City Library in the center of Maglaj. One of the five official sanctuaries of the Catholic Church in B&H are located in Maglaj – the Sanctuary of Sv. Leopold Mandić. Bones of St. Leopold (parts of the hand) are kept in the church, on the gallery, and replica of an eremitic room which St. Leopold had in Padua.

Tešanj

Tešanj represents a combination of the past and the modern period, and there is also a fortress dating from the Illyrian period. In the medieval period, the fort was significantly upgraded, and later a clock tower, which is still in function today, was built.

Fojnica

Fojnica fortress Kozograd was the last fortress in the Bosnian state of Queen Katarina on her way from Bobovac to Dubrovnik, and further to Rome. There is a story, which says that Queen Katarina ordered the horses to shoed oposit way in order to deceive their enemies on their way to Zenica. Traces of horses leading to Zenica are still visible on the remains of Kozograd. The traveler must not miss the Franciscan monastery in Fojnica and Kraljeva Sutjeska. The monastery in Fojnica dates from the 14th century and the library contains about 40,000 titles and a significant collection of incunabula (books written before the 16th century). The Monastery Museum still preserves Ahdnama – the original 16th-century document issued by Sultan Mehmed Fatih, which guarantees the Franciscans in Bosnia the right to freely practice and spread their faith.

Travnik

Travnik fortress, tombstones and necropolis Maculja are the legacy of the medieval period in Travnik. The fort is very well preserved and is located between two streams, Hendek and Šumeče. When Ottomans arrived, Travnik developed and became kadiluk (territory of a kadi or a judge), and in 1699, the capital of the Vizier, which has been in existence for over 150 years. In 1757, Šarena Mosque (Suleymani Mosque) was built. The mosque is painted with floral motifs and caligraphic inscriptions, that’s why it is called “Colorful Mosque”.

Prusac

Prusac is a town on the hill that is adorned with houses of white stone and coniferous forests. The old town of Prusca with the remains of a fortress and a clock tower that was restored and well located on the top of the ridge, served as a military base during the Ottoman period. The knowledge of Hasan Kafi Pruščak was well known in the emperor and ulema circles of Constantinople, and contributed to Prusac becoming a meeting place for scholars from various countries, besides the local educated people. Today Prusac is known as the largest Muslim pilgrimage in Europe. For more than 500 years, religious people have been coming to attend Ajvatovica, led by the horsemen, in order to visit the place where, 500 years ago, Ajvaz-dedo prayed to God for 40 mornings in a row to give the rain during the time of great drought.

Jajce

The medieval town of Jajce, which rises above the Plivski vodopad, with its fortress, walls and towers (the church of St. Mary and the tower of St. Luke) and catacombs from the 15th century, is one of the richest medieval monuments in Bosnia and Herzegovina. During King Tvrtko II, Jajce became the royal city, and before the end of the Bosnian state and the seat of the Bosnian kings. The last king of Bosnia, Stjepan Tomašević, was crowned in Jajce whose remains are kept in the Franciscan monastery in Jajce. A temple of the Roman god Mithras from the late 3rd century is places there as well.