Fortress of Doboj

Location: Doboj  Map

Constructed: 13th century


Description of Fortress of Doboj

Doboj Fortress or "Gradina" is located in the city of Doboj, Republika Srpska, Bosnia and Herzegovina. It originates from the 13th century. The Battle of Doboj took place here in 1415 (1415).

At the beginning of the 21st century, it was reconstructed with the help of the "Organization for the Development of Tourism of the Doboj Region ROTOR", which manages it, with the financial help of the "Swedish International Organization for Development and Cooperation" and the "Regional Center for Environmental Protection". Today it is one of the tourist attractions of Republika Srpska and an important cultural and historical monument under state protection.




One of the most important fortifications in the medieval banovina (duchy) of Usor, this large stone building was built in the early 13th century on the site of an earlier, earthen and wooden structure from the 10th or 11th century. In the first period of its existence, from the beginning of the 13th to the beginning of the 15th century (1415), the fortress was built in the Romanesque style of architecture. During its exciting history, this magnificent building was burned and looted at least 18 times according to official records. It should be noted that the Doboj fortress was considered a royal possession of the Kotromanićs, in contrast to the Zvečaj fortress of Duke Hrvoj or the Blagaj fortress of Sandalj Hranić, which were the centers of their voivodeships.

The Doboj fortress underwent a major reconstruction in the spring of 1415. While still retaining some of its original Romanesque elements, the fort received a Gothic structure and its main tower was reinforced with thick walls (up to three feet or about 1 meter thick on the east wall), as well as the addition of a bastion/plateau with six cannons on top . The Captain's Tower was transformed into an even more dominant structure with a several-story high square tower rising above the fortress. Additional outer walls were added around the original triangular core and the three large towers (northwest, east and south gates) were also strengthened. These towers strategically protect the flanks of the fortress, thus discouraging any idea of a frontal attack. In particular, the walls of the southern tower were reshaped into a round shape to repel cannonballs (around 1370-1380), and local captains at that time used Dubrovnik cannons, bombards and ballistae as the main defensive weapons of the fortress (Dubrovnik was then known as the Republic Ragusa).


Battle of Doboj

At the beginning of August 1415, the Bosnian nobility with their armies under the command of the Bosnian Grand Duke Hrvoje Vukčić-Hrvatinić, in alliance with the Ottoman Turks under Isa-beg, fought against the Hungarians in the Battle of Doboj (1415). During this campaign, the Hungarians (under Janos Gar and Janos Marot) set up their main camp in the field immediately below the Doboj fortress. Here they set up camp and waited patiently from early June 1415 until the bulk of the army finally gathered, coming from Hungary and Slavonia proper, and even from Germany, Bohemia, Lithuania and Poland. The real battle took place on August 10, 1415, mainly in the area of Makljenovac, some 5 km to the south. The heaviest fighting took place on the central plateau of the village of Sevarlije, across the river Bosna from Makljenovac.

Approximately 15,000 Hungarians divided into three detachments faced the united Bosnian nobility who brought 10,000 knights and armor to the battlefield. The most important Bosnian lords Hrvoje Vukčić, Sandalj Hranić, Pavle Radenović and Vuk Zlatonosović from the Banovine Usora were present with their contingents. Among them, they had several thousand modern heavy cavalry, some units of light cavalry, and most of them were armored. In addition, there was a large contingent, close to 15,000 Ottoman Turks under Isa-bey, who came to fight on the Bosnian side, arriving just in time from the direction of Zenica and the Lašva Valley. Ottoman inroads had already been a real threat to Southeastern Europe since the fall of the Serbian Empire in 1371. They actively interfered in medieval Bosnian affairs from the early 1400s and had a permanent garrison stationed in Vrhbosna as early as 1414. However, as is typical of feudal politics in the Middle Ages in Europe, the Bosnians gladly accepted Ottoman help on this occasion in order to take revenge on the Hungarians who had waged wars and crusades against them for more than two centuries. After careful deployment on the battlefield, the heavy cavalry opened the fight, with smaller foci of hand-to-hand combat, which later developed on the gentle slopes of the area between the Bosna and Usora rivers. Ultimately, the Hungarians were badly defeated in this battle, as most of the nobility present were captured and ransomed later, and they did not undertake any major offensives against the Ottomans or the Bosnian kingdom until the Second Battle of Kosovo in 1448.


Period of Turkish rule

The Turks conquered the city of Doboj and its fortress in 1476, and in the following decades they rebuilt the fortress and gave it a new shape by adding a second outer wall and additional structures. Particularly large works were done at the beginning of the summer of 1490, when about 1,500 people were employed under the builder Ibrahim. This was necessary from a strategic point of view, because the northernmost borders of the Ottoman Empire at that time were on the line Jajce-Doboj-Srebrenik. It seems that the fortress at that time was recovered by Hungarian and Bosnian forces from the short-lived Jajačka Banovina under the patronage of the Hungarians (1463-1528). However, as officially recorded, from 1503 the old town of Doboj and its nearby fortress were firmly in the hands of the Ottomans until 1878. In the Austrian-Turkish war (1697), the Doboj fortress was conquered and burned by Prince Eugene of Savoy and his Austrian army on the march to Sarajevo. The fortresses were recaptured and burned by the Austrians in the summer of 1717. In 1740, the Turks placed a dungeon inside the fortress, but at that time its garrison consisted of only 40 permanent soldiers. The Doboj fortress gradually lost its military importance at the end of the 18th century because the Turkish borders changed drastically in the Austro-Turkish wars, and later in the Napoleonic wars in the Balkans and elsewhere.

Austro-Hungarian occupation and the First World War
In 1878, the Austro-Hungarian army captured the fortress after a very difficult and long struggle with the local population, mainly Bosnian Muslims (today Bosniaks). The Austro-Hungarian army lost almost 1,000 soldiers killed in the battles around Doboj at the end of the summer of 1878, on the way to Sarajevo and during the occupation of northern Bosnia.

Although it is strategically outdated, it is worth noting that the fortress was used by the Austro-Hungarian forces in the First World War.



The Doboj fortress had a strong Ustasha-Home Guard and German crew in the Second World War. This unit remained firmly barricaded in the fort throughout the war. Members of the German forces built additional improvised bunkers surrounded by barbed wire in the early summer of 1941, and due to the position of the fortress and the firepower of the defenders, the Serbian villagers could not capture it during their uprising on August 23, 1941, while they successfully captured all other buildings and installations throughout the city and completely destroyed the remaining fortified German and Ustasha units in and around Doboj. Several thousand Serbian rebels, already under heavy Ustasha pressure since April 10 and the establishment of the Independent State of Croatia, managed to hold the town for 48 hours before being pushed back across the Bosna River as German armored units entered Doboj from the Derwent. , Broda and Tuzla. In their retreat through the streets of Doboj, they were under constant heavy fire from the fortress and had several casualties. The last shots were fired from the fortress in the early morning hours of April 17, 1945, as elements of the NOVJ 53rd Division and the 14th Central Bosnian Partisan Brigade stormed the city, breaking through the southern and eastern defense lines.


Presentation at the Museum in Doboj

JU Museum in Doboj works on research, preservation and promotion of the Gradina fortress complex. Archaeological findings from that area are part of the exhibit of the archaeological department of the museum. The most interesting archaeological findings of the Doboj fortress date from the 16th century. Of particular note is the bronze candlestick, a rare find in Europe, made in the shape of a tulip. Of the other findings from that period, most of them are military weapons such as crossbow heads, parts of medieval plate armor, as well as pieces of ceramics.



Despite some damage from shelling during the Bosnian war, the fortress is well preserved. In the late 2000s, it could be visited and properly maintained. However, since 2010, regular maintenance has been abandoned and the castle has been vandalized, while the tourist facilities have gradually fallen into disrepair. In 2016, new works were carried out for the partial restoration of the fortress with new archaeological excavations, revealing medieval arrows, pieces of ceramics and glass and decorative ceramics and objects of iron and precious metals. The lower layers of the three side towers, in particular, remain inadequately explored with much more potential for future excavation and detailed study of this historic building.