Catacombs or an underground church, carved into the rock more than 600 years ago, remained one of the most interesting monuments in the area of the Royal City of Jajce. The kings were changing, the authorities, the city was attacked, defended, conquered and changed … However, Catacombs were interesting throughout the history.
At the end of the 14th and the beginning of the 15th century, the Duke Hrvoje Vukčić Hrvatinić, who was the founder of the town of Jajce, gave an order to carve Catacombs as the place of the last residence of the Duke Hrvatinić’s family. The purpose was for him and his family to be buried in this church. However, no one has ever been buried. There are some versions of why this is so, but in 1416 Hrvoje died in Kotor Varoš.
At the entrance to the underground church, there is a plaque saying: “In the autumn of 1943, the commander of the National Liberation Army of the Partisan Detachments of Yugoslavia, Josip Broz Tito, worked and stayed here and occasionally.” There is also a legend among the citizens of Jajce that Catacombs, in some way, guarded the life of Tito.
By entering Catacombs, you are 600 years back. In the lobby, on the walls of the rock, there are unfinished reliefs of Hrvoje and Hrvoje’s coat of arms, and a carved female figure with lilies in her hand. From the lobby, one enters a Romanesque-style church and its dome is in Gothic style.
Alongside the sidewalls, in the floor, there are tombs in which no one is buried. There is a double cross carved in the church, and the sun and the crescent to the right and left of it, and those are old symbols of the cult of death, the afterlife and eternal sleep.
From the center or main room, the stairs descend into another room, some type of crypt. The entire center of the crypt occupies an altar with a perforation in the form of a double cross, a crescent and the sun. Catacombs were proclaimed in 2003 a national monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
For the Ottoman period a legend is being tied, which says that a dervish was closed in the underground church for 40 days. It was thought that it would become a holy one – evliya. For 40 days he was only consuming water and bread, and he was so weak that people considered him a holy person.
Only with the arrival of Austro-Hungarians, emerges an interest in tourism. One shopkeeper stored a beer inside Catacombs, because it has a temperature of about 10 degrees Celsius throughout the year. Catacombs were also interesting in the Second World War, before the Second AVNOJ Session that was held in this city.
However, these Catacombs are not like those in Rome, since they are in Rome from the 2nd and 3rd century. These are from the Middle Ages, and this is an underground grave church that people started calling Catacombs.