Jajce – Pliva Lake

Jajce is a beautiful city and municipality of “Stone, Water and Light”, located in the central part of Bosnia and Herzegovina and part of the Central Bosnia Canton of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, 70 km south of Banja Luka and 160 km north of Sarajevo. Traffic-geographic location of Jajce Municipality is very favorable, as since the ancient times the valley of the Vrbas River makes the natural travel route which connects the northern parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina with the mountainous-ravine Bosnia, and via Bugojno and the pass of Makljen with the Herzegovina. Jajce lies on the crossroads between Banja Luka, Mrkonjic Grad and Donji Vakuf Municipalities, on the confluence of the gorgeous Pliva and Vrbas Rivers that form very powerful, magic, 20 meters high Jajce waterfall, which is one of the most beautiful in the world and made Jajce famous throughout the world. The Old Town of Jajce is often called the town-museum thanks to its twenty structures, localities and compounds of the National list of monuments, covering the surface of about 112000 sqm and making the town of unique beauties and architecture will be part of the prestigious UNESCO Heritage sites, when few small conditions are fulfilled.

Jajce was first mentioned in the 14th century when it served as the capital of the independent Bosnian Kingdom and the seat of its rulers – Tvrtko II Tvrtkovic, Stjepan Tomas and Stjepan Tomasevic. The town of Jajce has gates as fortifications, as well as a castle with underground church and crypt and tunnels and walls which lead to the various gates around the town. When the Bosnian kingdom fell to the Ottoman Empire in 1463, Jajce was taken by the Ottomans but was retaken next year by the Hungarian King Matthias Corvinus. During this period, Bosnian Queen Katarina Kosaca – Kotromanic restored the Church of Saint Luke in Jajce, today the oldest church in the town. Katarina Kosača Kotromanić is surely one of the most intriguing and the most famous personality of the Medieval Bosnia, whose tragic destiny ended on 25 October 1478 in Rome, away from her children Katarina and Zigmund, after the fall of the Bosnian Kingdom in 1463 and execution in Jajce of the half-brother Stefan Tomasevic, the last king of the Serbs and Bosnia. The nine-year old Katarina and her 2 years older brother Zigmund were captured in the Fojnica court or in the nearby town of Kozograd by the invading sultan Mehmed II army, ruled 1451-1481, and taken in custody to Carigrad, where they were forcibly converted into Islam. By islamization, Katarina got the new name – Tahiri Hanuma. As legend has it, the princess Katarina – Tahiri Hanuma is buried in Skopje, where Isa Bey Ishakovic later erected a turbe – a characteristic mausoleum of Ottoman royalty and notables, which is located on the slope of the Urjan Baba, nowadays known as the Gazi Baba, in mezarje – the graveyard, beside the road called Hadžilar Jolu, where was buried the particular Kral K’zi, i.e. the royal princess. Passing by the turbe in Gazi Baba, numerous Skopje locals and visitors do now know to whom is it dedicated, without any idea that here is buried the young royal princess of the royal Kotromanic Dynasty, the rulers of Bosnia and later kings of the Serbs and Bosnia.

Eventually, in 1527, Jajce became the last Bosnian town to fall to the Ottoman rule. It was a year after the Turkish victory over the Hungarians at Mohacs which put an end to the Hungarian province of Bosnia. All Bosnia was now Ottoman and was to remain so until the Austrian occupation after the Treaty of Berlin, 1878.

There are several churches and mosques built in different times during different rules, making Jajce a rather diverse town in this aspect. The first and highest zone of the Old Town of Jajce comprises the citadel, as the main fortification with a Romanesque Medvjed Tower-Bear Tower and a narrow residential area beneath, forming an ‘amphitheater’ surrounded by a rampart. This was part of the feudal and royal court, which had some public functions as well as residential. The second zone was on the south-western part of the plateau, with the church and the bell-tower of Saint Luke, burial ground and catacombs, and a separate tower for their defense. In the early days this zone was outside the town ramparts. The third zone is the area outside the ramparts, where houses were built around a market by peasants skilled in crafts or trade, mainly for the purpose of serving the feudal. There is the Jajce Museum, rich in various collections and exhibitions of cultural heritage of the area, which is must see. The old part of Jajce features more than twenty structures, localities and compounds which are protected national monuments, and this town of unique beauty and architecture will be part of the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage sites, once several tiny conditions are fulfilled.

Jajce gained prominence during the Second World War because it hosted the Second convention of the Anti-Fascist Council of People’s Liberation of Yugoslavia on November 29, 1943, a meeting that set the foundation for the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia after WWII. The AVNOJ Museum is located in the southern part of Jajce, and commemorates this important historical moment of Yugoslavia, which brought together 142 representatives from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia and Slovenia. The second session of the Antifascist Council of National Liberation of Yugoslavia (AVNOJ) in Jajce brought some of the most important decisions on the construction of Yugoslavia. Since then, Yugoslavia became a federal republic where all nations were equal. It was the end of creating Yugoslavia state authorities who decided to renounce their sovereignty and to become part of the federal government of Yugoslavia. At the same session a document approving the decision to build Yugoslavia on federal principles, with full equality of its peoples and nationalities was signed. This document marked the completion of the creation of the Yugoslavian state’s authorities.

At the beginning of the Bosnian War Jajce was inhabited by people from all ethnic groups, and was situated at a junction between areas of Serb majority to the north, Bosnian Muslim majority areas to the south-east and Croatian majority areas to the south-west. At the end of April and the beginning of May 1992, almost all Serbs left the city and fled to territory under the Republika Srpska control. The Serbian Orthodox Church /Crkva Uspenja Presvete Bogorodice – The Church of the Most Holy Mother of God/ was blown up in the night between 10th and 11th of October 1992. In the summer of 1992, the Army of Republika Srpska started heavy bombardment of the city. Serb forces entered Jajce in October 1992, apparently due to lack of cooperation between Bosnian government and Croat forces. The Bosniak and Croat population escaped through Divičani into Travnik. In the Croat counteroffensives of August-September 1995 the town of Jajce was taken by Croatian forces with most of the Serb population fleeing. Jajce became part of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina according to the Dayton Agreement as per municipality borders were changed, and included some villages with the Bosnian Croat majority before the war /Mrkonjic Grad and Skender Vakuf municipalities/ and excluded some villages with the Bosnian Serb or Bosnian majority before the war.

Jajce is situated in the picturesque mountainous setting with beautiful countryside, comprising abundant greenish rivers such as the Vrbas and Pliva, Great and Small Pliva lakes, that are popular sport and recreation destinations /collecting medicinal herbs and mushrooms photo safari and bird watching, climbing, hiking, mount biking, kayaking and boating/ and premium location for sport fishing. Town of Jajce is surrounded with row of middle-high mountains of Ćusine, Bukovica, Hum, Dnolučka planina, Kik and Ranče, covered with deciduous and conifer forests intersected with mountainous meadows and pastures. The mountains around Jajce feature cold and health waters and number of streams and rivers – Komotinski potok, Šedinac, Lučina, Raševik and Rika. The Pliva Region covers areas of Šipovo, Jezeri and Jajce. Šipovo is located close to the source of the Pliva river, Jezero is located at the Pliva lakes, while Jajce is situated right there where the Pliva River joins the Vrbas river. Five kilometers away from Jajce there are beautiful Pliva lakes, separated in the middle with bunch of amazing, well-preserved mills built during the Ottoman era. Among the local people they are know as “mličići” (small mills), and make one of the main and most unique highlights of visitors from all over the world, and locals, who often come to visit them and enjoy the freshness of water-sand the beautiful site. These mills were built on the stones and form a barrier between the Great and Small Pliva Lakes and provide a major contribution to the historical environment of the town of Jajce and are also an expression of the local carpentry skills and traditional building methods. Today those mills are mostly out of order, but provide amazing site how they split up two lakes. Not far from Jajce there are mountains that are over 2000 meters high, like Vitorog Mountain /1906 m/ situated above the settlement of Sipovo – eco paradise that attracts nature-explorer and hunters as well as Vlasic Mountain near the town of Travnik.

The medieval fortress of Sokol on the Pliva river can be regarded among the most famous and most important places of the Medieval history of Bosnia. Although the geographical term that is most often added to it, connects it with the Pliva river, this town is actually set on the tributary of the Pliva river, the Sokosnica river, that joins the Pliva river some 3 km after its spring. The Sokol fortification belong to the type of thie high positioned towns, located high on the edge of the mountain side of Borovica, steep above the Sokosnica river canyon, some 5 km away from Sipovo. By its location, the Sokol fort dominated the area which spread along the Pliva River Valley to the Kupres Field and the Vitorog Mountain on one side, and up to the hill above the Gornji Ribnik on the Sana river, on the other side. The Sokol town was positioned on the crossroad of important roads, controlling so-called the salty road, that continued along the left shore of the Pliva to the lake and Jajce, and along roads towards Kljuc and Glamoc, while in its close proximity was the crossroad direction Carevac. As it featured highly strategic position, the Sokol fort was nearly inaccessible for the medieval weapons.  Sources do not mention the time of construction of the fortress, while the archaeological excavations also did not succeed to give closer answer to this matter. It is only clear that the Sokol fortress existed even before it was first time recorded in modern historical archives dating from 1363. The town of Sokol in 1463 became part of the Jajce administrative county after the fall of the Medieval Bosnian Kingdom in the campaign of King Matias Corvinus, where it remained until 1518 when it was eventually conquered by the Ottomans, in their conquest of Jajce.    The Sokol was extended and reinforced during the Turkish administration, but soon lost its strategic importance due rapid conquest advancements of the Ottomans towards the west and the north. /Esad Kurtović, Emir O. Filipović/

The remoteness of the Jajce region, its enormous size and rugged terrains allowed a variety of rare wildlife and animal species to thrive here for centuries. Brown bear, wolves, lynx and wild boar live in thick forests around Sipovo and Jajce. When strolling through those gorgeous ares have in mind eco – philosophy of maximizing enjoyment and minimizing disruption and consider the consequences on both the animals’ and your well-being. Adapt yourself to circumstances and be aware of how animals respect your presence. If you accept their needs and desires, they will often accept you. Some species that live in open habitats, such as bear and wolves, may approach rather than flee from you once they spotted you. Our Advice : if you do encounter the brown bear – do not run, as this will trigger the bear’s predator instincts and it will quickly pursue and overtake you. Instead – back away slowly. If and attack is imminent – lay on the ground and curl into a ball, covering your head and neck with your arms.

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