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Jajce – Open Air Museum

Open-air museum and the royal city are labels that Jajce rightfully wears. The beauty of the town in Central Bosnia leaves no one indifferent. Jajce is located at the mouth of Pliva and Vrbas rivers and is known for its lakes, waterfalls, watermills…

Jajce was the capital of the Bosnian kings, and and the last Bosnian king Stjepan Tomasevic was there until 1463. Numerous important historical events took place in this city, and among those the second Session of the Anti-Fascist Council of People’s Liberation of Yugoslavia (AVNOJ).

All this is reason enough for Jajce to be one of the most visited tourist destinations in Bosnia and Herzegovina. From year to year, this city has seen an increase in the number of tourists, and according to announcements, this year should be record-breaking.

An unavoidable destination

– The tourist season is still going on and it will end on November 29, when the AVNOJ Days event is held and we cannot yet talk about the exact number of tourists who visited Jajce this year. What we can say based on data from previous years; most of the visitors are from B&H and our Diaspora. In addition, there are numerous visits of elementary and secondary school students from our country. Every year, more and more schools in B&H position Jajce as an indispensable destination for school excursions – says Aida Softic-Joldic from the Agency for Cultural, Historical and Natural Heritage and the Development of Tourist Potentials of the City of Jajce.

She says that three years ago the Agency made a program by which they visit sll the schools in Bosnia and Herzegovina and represent Jajce as a place where students can get acquainted with the history of this city, as well as entire Bosnia and Herzegovina.

– Our agency is working hard on promotion outside B&H, and is a regular exhibitor at all tourism fairs throughout Europe. Those are fairs in Istanbul, Berlin and other cities of Germany, but also in cities throughout the region – she says.

29 national monuments are proof that Jajce really has a rich history and deserves valuable attention of tourists. According to the data of the Agency for Cultural, Historical and Natural Heritage and the Development of the Tourist potentials of the City of Jajce, waterfall in Jajce, which is one of the 12 most beautiful in the world, but also the only one located in the city center is the most popular.

There is also a fortress, the largest in Bosnia. The great conqueror, Sultan Muhammad El Fatih, was unable to win it even after concerning the whole of Bosnia. It is assumed that it was built in the 13th century. In the southwest is the entrance with the royal coat of arms, and the fortress was built by Hrvoje Vukcic Hrvatinic, who is also the founder of Jajce. It was the seat of kings whose coats of arms were carved on the fortress. The walls are tall and the fortress is built on the hill in the shape of an egg, and rivers Pliva and Vrbas are also its protection.

Temple of God Mithras – Indo-Iranian deity: the Mitras cult was widespread among the Romans, thus testifying to the ancient culture in Jajce. The Romans built it in the 4th century, and it was “discovered” in 1931. There is also an architectural relief of the sacrifice of the bull in the temple.

On November 29, 1943, the second session of AVNOJ was held in Jajce and the foundations of the SFRY were laid. The birth of Yugoslavia in Jajce is a socialist counterpart of the royal capital of the Middle Ages, and this event is also set in the AVNOJ Museum of the Second Session.

Medvjed kula (The Bear Tower) was built in a Romanesque style and therefore belongs to the oldest buildings of the Bosnian Middle Ages. There are two beliefs regarding the etymology of its name. One says it is called a bear for the bulkiness and thickness of the walls, which is up to six meters. Second, more popular, says it was called like this because bears used to be plased inside, and those who were imprisoned and convicted were thrown to them.

St. Luke’s Tower is actually a bell tower of the Gothic church of St. Mary. It was built in the 15th century and has a form of construction of three types: Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance. The date of the establishment of the church has not been determined, but is presumed to have originated in the place of an older Romanesque church from the beginning of 15th century. The church was guarding relics of St. Luke the Evangelist, which were brought to Jajce as a dowry by the last Bosnian Queen Mara Jelena.

A tragic story

Catacombs are a unique underground grave chapel that was built by the founder of Jajce Hrvoje Vukcic Hrvatinic for himself and his family. If we supress the creeps and enter the coldness of the tomb, we will see an altar with an apse surrounded by a Gothic arc. Based on the unfinished drawings of Hrvoje’s coat of arms near the entrance, it was established that the chapel was built in 1410.

Esma Soltaniyeh who was married to Bosnian Vizier Mehmed Pasha Muhsinovic built a mosque in 1753. A beautiful and tragic story is related to the construction of the mosque. Soltaniyeh was sick and she was told that she would be healed if she built a mosque in a place where the two rivers connect into one. Soltaniyeh did it, and she payed the mosque with an earring she took from her ear. She had not lived to see the end of the works, but the elegance and beauty of the building surely kept memory of her and her tragic fate.

Five kilometers from the city are Veliko and Malo Plivsko Lake, formed by the transformation of the flow of Pliva, which is also used as a significant hydroelectric resource. Pliva lakes are of great importance for the development of sports, recreation, sport fishing, tourism and fish farming.

Due to the specific density of water, Veliko Plivsko Lake is ideal for kayaking and canoes, as well as kayaking competitions. A special attraction is the complex of waterfalls, built on the sandy thresholds between Veliko and Malo Lake, popularly called “Mlinčići”, dating back to the Middle Ages. Twenty watermills give a great contribution to the ambience of the historic city of Jajce and are an expression of local carpentry skills and traditional way of building. All mills were built of wood, resting on pillars, which are, due to the fall of the terrain, of unequal heights. The mills are covered with multi-walled roofs with shingle.

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