Bihac is town in Una-Sana Canton, positioned in the northwest part of Bosnia and Herzegovina, on both banks of the magic Una River. Bihac is situated on the border with Croatia and very close /ca 30 km/ to the majestic Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia. Bihac is the largest town in the western part of Bosnia and Herzegovina, set on the convenient communications to reach very quickly the Adriatic coast of Dalmatia – Split is only 3,5 hours away from Bihac, and it takes you only an 1,5 hour with a car to get to Senj and Zadar.

Bihac is a town of rich history, which was in the Middle Ages the Royal town within its lower part, and today is an economic and cultural center of the Una-Sana Canton. The Una River basin and Bihac used to make one of the best developed areas of Bosnia and Herzegovina during the Illyrian historical period. This region, situated between the Pljesevica Mountain in the west, the Grmec Mountain in the east, and the Zrinjska and Petrova gora in the north, had provided large number of traces and archaeological finds which testify on the existence of the large Illyrian tribe of Iapodes – Japodes. The Iapodes were members of the tribe that populated the large area which included the wider area around the middle course of the Una River and the Una National Park in Bosnia, the present Lika and Gorski Kotar in Croatia, and the Bela Krajina in Slovenia. Development of the Iapodi culture was roughly carried out during the last thousand of years of the Old era. Branka Raunig, Umjetnost i religija prahistorijskih Japoda, 2004.

The Captain’s Tower /Kapetanova kula/, Saint Anthony of Padua church that once was one of the largest Catholic places of worship, the Stone tomb /turbe/ which dates from the Austro-Hungarian occupation of Bihać, Fethija mosque and walls that still defy time, the Old town of Sokolac, recalling the old days of pride and glory, are the most valuable cultural and historical monuments in the center of the town.

Una National Park is the largest national park of Bosnia and Herzegovina and one of the most impressive collections of majestic nature in this most blessed part of the world. The Una National Park covers 198 square kilometres of land on Bosnia’s border with Croatia, a mass of verdant forests and magnificent waterways that is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna and breathtaking watefalls, making this area one of the most biodiverse areas in the region, enabling a number of options for challenging water sports and outdoor activities.

The Serbs of Bihac – Bihac population, although of the Muslim religion like more to be called ‘the Biscani’, and have left huge historical and civilization traces. The beginning of the modern Bihac, the multi-ethnic settlement of equal Muslim, Roman-Catholic and Orthodox population starts at the beginning of the 16th century, when the area turned into the center of the Ottoman Empire during the rule of the islamized Serb Hasan Pasha Predojevic.

The area of Bihac was settled from at least Illyrian and Roman times, but the town of Bihać itself was first mentioned in 1260 in a document of King Bela IV. It were these far northwest frontier lands that drew the line between the Ottomans and the Austria-Hungarians. In medieval times the town of Bihac developed as a free royal borough with a fortress and two monasteries, a Dominican and a Franciscan, several churches, a large number of commercial and residential buildings, and several defensive towers. In the 16th century Bihac and its surrounding fortified towns became part of the so-called Military Frontier /Vojna Krajina/ consisting of a defensive zone fortified against the increasingly frequent incursions by the Ottoman troops. The Ottoman Army, led by Hasan Pasha Predojevic – the Bey of the Segedin Sanjak occupied the town of Bihac in June 1592. Over the next three centuries Bihac got numerous mosques built and became an important fortification in the extreme west for the Ottoman Empire and the point of departure for Ottoman incursions and steady pressure on the borders of Croatia. The Captain’s tower in Bihac is situated in center of the city, on Gazi Husref Begova street on the left bank of the river Una, within the former city walls. The Captain’s tower in Bihac is in complex of monuments together with Saint Ante church tower and tomb of Bihac’s aristocracy. Entire complex is placed on three meters high foundations, surrounded by supporting walls. The Captain’s tower in Bihac is currently used as a museum, with permanent exhibition of historical findings and documents from Bihac area. The old fortified town of Sokolac is located on the elevation of the eastern side of the Debeljaca Hill on the left bank of the Una River. During the Bronze age there was the prehistorical fortification on the place of the present Sokolac fortification whose traces were discovered in the archaeological excavations and date to the 9th and the 10th century BC. At that time there were the stilt houses – mud huts in the nearby village of Ripac on the banks of the Una River. Below the Sokolac fort there is the Golubicko polje field, and the Una River and the road.

On the territory of Bihac Municipality there are numerous monuments of culture and history and tourist attractions to visit : the Fehtija mosque with harem; Bihac, Jakar and Kanal hydro-power plants from the end of the 19th century; Jewish cemetery on the Islamovac locality; stone relief of a human figure; stone relief bearing the Bihac coat of arms; Captain’s Tower; Bihac konak /dormitory/; the old fortified town of Ostrovica near Kulen Vakuf; Sokolac prehistorical site and medieval and Ottoman settlement; Ripac, Jezerine, Ribic and Crkvina archaeological sites of the Japodia tribes /10th century BC till 2nd century AD/; Garavice Memorial complex /commemorating mass murders of thousands of innocent Serbs and Jews killed by Ustashe forces at the beginning of the WWII in 1941/; Rmanj Medieval Monastery bearing remains of original frescoes in Martin Brod; the old town of Rmanj in Martin Brod from the 15th century – spectacular spot on the left bank of the Unac River; the Stone Turbe dating from the time of the Austrian administration in Bihac; artistic collection of Damirka and Enver Mulabdic; artistic collection of Dzevad Hoza; Kloster Monastery; Church of Saint Anthony of Padua bearing graveyard of the Bihac nobility;…..

Garavice site marks the Memorial Park on some 15 hectares on the spot of mass grave of thousands of killed civilians executed by the Ustasha forces of the Independent State of Croatia in the beginning of the Second World War. The site of mass killing and the Garavice Memorial Park is located on both side of the road Bihać Zagreb, on the hill of Humačka glavica that includes three mass graves  – Garavice, Delibarice and Uljevite bare. On this place in Garavice were natural channels of the tiny Klokot river that were filled with corps of Serbs, Jews and Roma civilians killed in several war months by ustasha forces. The exact number of killed people has never been determined. As per British sources, here were killed 14500 civilians in only three months, cruely executed daily in various places, burnt alive in churches, houses and stables, buried alive in standing position, and covered with lime. There are testifies of Moslem and Croatian witnesses who were terrified by cries of tortured victims they listened for days from their homes. The largest number of civilians killed in Garavice massive execution is around 10000 civilians, killed in the period between 28 July until 04 August 1941. The Ustasha administration gave order and performed the command for destruction of the Orthodox church of the Holy Trinity whose stone was used for reconstruction of the Roman-catholic church and the belfry, situated close to the Kula /Tower/ in Bihac. The land of the pre-war Orthodox church of Bihac was taken by the municipal administration for construction of the Municipality building. In 1981 the Memorial Park was erected on the Garavice spot of the mass execution, the work of sculptor Bogdan Bogdanovic that includes 15 identical stone metaliths arranged around the Garavice hillside. Tops of the stone columns contain engraved forms of human tears and represent the hunched-over female figures filled with worry, “hanging their heads in sadness, while lamenting the loss of their loved ones, catching sight of the past and looking towards the future”. There is engraved inscription at the entrance of the Garavice Memorial – “Life is stronger than death, Justice is stronger than crime, Love than hatred“. The Garavice Memorial Park in Bihac is today in pretty bad condition, poor maintenaned and neglected, stone columns covered with vegetation and heavily vandalized by graffiti, but also damaged by shrapnel scars from the most recent war.

The old fortification in Ostrožac near Cazin, 14 km northeast of Bihac, on the left shore of the Una River, looks mostly like a court. The Ostrožac Fort is the most important cultural and historical asset on the territory of the Cazin Municipality. Ostrožac Castle is located 206 meters above the Una River. It was first mentioned in 1286 as a property of the knyaz (Slavic title) Babovici of Blagaj. This castle is the stronghold that has been settled for the longest period of time in the whole area of Cazin. The Ostrozac Castle was reconstructed many times and today it represents a castle with a fairy tale appearance. Some annalists claim that this castle existed in 405 BC, but it was never historically proven. There was a number of rulers of this property and some evidences about the lavish and rich decoration of the castle. The present day appearance of the Ostrozac castle dates back to the 16th century when the Ottoman Turks established the Ottoman province of Bosnia. A second reconstruction works were carried out between 1900 and 1906 by an unknown member of the Habsburg family. Today, the Ostrozac castle is a tourist attraction of Cazin, Krajina and the whole Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Una River is one of the most beautiful and the cleanest rivers in Europe which runs through the area of Bihać, named by the ancient Romans for its unique beauty. Having seen the beauty of Una River, the “Queen of the rivers”, they gave her the name that she has rightfully borne until today: “Una – one and the only”. Name of Una River origins from the Latin expression “una” – the only one. Una River makes numerous waterfalls on its course, among which are most famous waterfalls by Martin Brod and Štrbački buk waterfall – containing several slopes, with the highest which is 25 meter high.

The previous church of the Holy Trinity in Bihas was built in 1894 in the Byzantine-Romanesque style, with a 30 meters high dome and two belfries. The Church was 25 meters long and 15-50 meters long and was one of the most beautiful and the largest Orthodox churches in the Serbian Patriarcate and in the Balkan Peninsula. Upon cration of the Independent State of Croatia – Nezavisna država Hrvatska, the Croatian administration carried out their ordered to destroy the Orthodox church of Bihac. This event happened on the Saint Vitus Day – Vidovdan in 1941. Then 15000 Serbs of Bihac were executed and all the Serb villages were torched to the ground. The land where previously stood the Orthodox church was confiscated by the communists in 1959 and the new building of the Bihac Municipality was erected. Construction of the new church of Holy Trinity started in 1987 in the settlement of Jezero. In the most recent war, town of Bihac was completely cleansed from Serbs and their villages were again totally burned.

Uniquely beautiful natural attraction of the Japodski otoci – Japodia islands, are located close to Bihać in the Račić settlement. Una River created unreal beauty in this part of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Japodski otoci – the islands of Japodia on Una River are special tourist attraction of Bosnia and Herzegovina, close to the border with Croatia. Here the river islands are connected with wooden bridges and five of them make border area with the Una National Park, that can compete with beauty with many such attractions in the world. The Una River flow around those islands and create cascades and transform the river banks, while the bridges enable tourists to enjoy in their beauties. The Japodski otoci tourist center features parking, restaurant and pretty spacious camping site, which is favorite by numerous visitors from all over Europe. Every constructed part of the Japodski otoci tourist complex makes part of the natural environment, as everything is made of wood to support and enhance the harmony of nature. There are plans of construction of the ancient settlement which will be cultural-historical complex that made this area of Bosnia widely popular. TUI Magazin