Šaban Ibrišimović, Bobovac’s key-holder and pioneer of tourism development in this area: Bosnian Crown Guardians

PHOTO: MUHIDIN ŽIVOJEVIĆ

The road to Bobovac, the most significant and well-established town of medieval Bosnia, is still quite a challenge. If you approach it from Kakanj, the road from Kraljeva Sutjeska to Dragovići, the village in front of dilapidated stone sleeper, is a little easier, with less macadam. Direction from Vareš represent a real adventure, which is another proof of the concern or lack thereof of the social community about its sights, as well as the villages on the slopes of the Dragovske and Mijakovske Poljice mountain ranges, above the mouth of the Mijakovska River in Bukovica, southwest of Vareš.

The royal town of Bobovac is located in the embrace of the villages of Mijakovići, Juse and Dragovići. It consisted of an upper city with a square tower, whose remains still exist today, and the lower city, on a step lower, about 20 meters long, polygonal in shape, about 40 meters long and about 25 meters wide, from which a yard and a well are recognized today.

Dynasty Kotromanić

The fortress of Bosnian King Stephen II Kotromanić from the first half of the 14th century is in rather poor condition. Bobovac was the military and administrative headquarters of the Bosnian kings along with Kraljeva Sutjeska, which had more administrative and political significance. It kept the royal crown of Bosnia. There was also a royal burial chapel, remodeled for that purpose from the old church, probably by order of King Stephen Ostoja.

Three Bosnian kings were buried in it – Stephen Ostoja (1378 – 1418), Tvrtko II Kotromanić (1380 – 1443) and Stephen Tomaš Kotromanić (? – Orihovac, 10 July 1461). In the courtyard chapel of the Kotromanić family are the graves of Queen Kujava and Dorothea, daughter of the Croatian-Slavonian Ban Ivan Gorjanski.

Stephen Tomašević (1461-1463), the last king of Bosnia, because of the imminent danger from the Ottomans, who conquered the city in the second half of May 1463, moved the royal court to Jajce and converted to Catholicism. With the continuation of the Ottoman conquests to the northwest of Europe, Bobovac lost its strategic importance.

The royal burial chapel has been reconstructed, but by some unacknowledged methods, thus its value is diminished. Today, there is the mausoleum of the Kotromanić dynasty. When you reach this place you see that there have been good attempts to revitalize this area, but a lot of damage has been done, such as a cross that dominates the interior of the mausoleum.

Bobovac would have already grown into a sedge without the Bosnian Crown Keepers Association from nearby Mijakovići, headed by Šaban Ibrišimović, the president of that local community, a man with great energy and encouraging visions.

Tourist boom

Through the efforts of that association and Ibrišimović, 220 meters of trails around the fort were arranged. In 2010, water from Mujica’s spring flowed to Bobovac, signaling was completed, tourist bureau facility with solar lighting was made. Tourists were also offered the first souvenirs, and the daughter of the biggest skeptic in the tourist boom of the area got the job. The Bosnian gastro-fest was also organized, which is still being talked about today.

Everything was going well, and the 10,000 tourists, which were recorded, was an indication of the impetus and wider engagement of the social community of both, Vareš Municipality and the Zenica-Doboj Canton, that is, the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Bobovac was administered to the Public Institution for Culture and Education of the Municipality of Vareš, which itself depends on the empty municipal coffers, and is also fragile in staff. There were promises, but there was no concrete realization.

Šaban Ibrišimović and his associates did not give up. He convinced the neighbors that this area has great tourist potential, opened his own house to tourists, and was followed by others. Mini gastro-fest is almost daily in their homes, and guests, often members of the diplomatic corps, are satisfied with the organic products of the area, and the hosts make money.

The stone sleeper is waiting for the mercy of politicians. The mausoleum is leaking, and it has been promised from the Government of Zenica-Doboj Canton that the roof will be replaced by the end of the year. The Bosnian Crown Keepers Association of Mijakovići hopes that not all will remain just a promise. At least not from those who swear to Bosnia and Bosnianship!

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