Jajce Castle

Location: Jajce, Central Bosnia Canton Map

Constructed: 14th century by Hrvoje Vukčić Hrvatinić


Description of Jajce Castle

The entire old town in Jajce is surrounded by a fortress wall. The city rises up a steep pyramidal hill, which is crowned with a citadel. From the southwest, Jajce is protected by the Pliva River, from the southeast by the Vrbas River, and from the other sides by sheer cliffs.

According to archaeological research, already in the 13th century there was a fortification with three towers on the top of the hill. It was one of a chain of forts built along the caravan route that ran along the Vrbas River and then turned towards Split. The names of the rest of the fortresses (Vesela Strazha, Vinats, Bochats, Greben, Zvechay) and modest remains of towers and walls have been preserved, and a different fate awaited the fort over the junction of Pliva and Vrbas.

The Duke of Hrvoe Vukcic Hrvatinich liked this place, and he decided to build a large beautiful fortress. As a model, he took a fortress near Naples called Uovo, which means “egg” in translation. The first mention of the fortress dates back to 1396, initially without a name. A few years later, the fortress has already received a name, and this name is Yaytse.

At the turn of the 14th and 15th centuries, Hrvoe Vukcic turned a small fort into a monumental structure with powerful towers and thick walls ending in crowns. Outside the fortress walls, the church of St. Mary, and next to her the Duke of Hrvoe began to build an underground church-tomb, later called the Catacombs.

In 1416, Hrvoe Khrvatinich died, before having lost interest in both the Egg and the tomb - it remained unfinished. But the city continues to grow and develop. Toward the middle of the 15th century, it becomes the city of the Bosnian kings and acquires a splendor corresponding to its status.

The walls descend to natural barriers - sheer cliffs and river banks, a powerful Bear Tower is being built. Inside the new city perimeter, a monastery of the Franciscan order, the church of St. Catherine, and on the top of the hill, in the citadel, the royal chambers, the church of St. Mary is rebuilt in the Gothic style, and a bell tower appears next to it, where the influence of the Renaissance is already noticeable.

In 1461, the coronation of Stepan Tomashevich Kotromanich takes place in Jajce, and two years later the Kingdom of Bosnia ceases to exist, and this happens in Jajce, where the last king signs the order to surrender all the fortresses to the Ottomans.

True, the Ottomans did not hold Yajce for long, six months later they were driven out of this part of Bosnia by the Hungarians. Several decades passed before the final conquest of the territories of Bosnia and Herzegovina by the Ottomans.

Since 1527, the Ottoman conquerors settled densely in Yajtse and began to rebuild the fortress and the city to their liking. The towers were converted into bastions. Later, mounds were made inside the walls of the citadel for the installation of large cannons. In the center of the citadel was built a squat tower - a powder store - and a mesjid, a small mosque for the garrison.


City fortifications

The old town of Jaice has the shape of an irregular quadrangle, it is surrounded by a fortress wall on three sides, a wall is not needed from the Vrbas side - the coast there is high and sloppy, it is a reliable defense in itself.

There are three bastions and one tower on the northern side, the Bear Tower protects the southwestern corner, and getting close from the western side is not an easy task, there is a sheer cliff that turns into a high wall of the citadel.

In the old days, one could enter the city through one of the three gates: Travnichsky, Banyaluchsky or Gloomy. A tower still towers above the Travniči Gate, a tower stands nearby near the Banialuči Gate, and the Gloomy Gate was demolished back in the 19th century, now there is just a hole in the wall.



The upper part of the hill is occupied by the citadel, the fortress from which the city of Jajce began. You can enter the citadel through a narrow gate in the southwestern wall. Once upon a time, instead of these small gates, the fortress was entered through a spectacular Gothic portal, more in line with the royal status of the city. But it was necessary to make the wall thicker, and the portal was walled up. The coat of arms of the royal dynasty of the Kotromanichs, for some unknown reason, is mirrored, reminiscent of its former greatness.

The walls of the citadel are thicker than those of the city, the outer wall is about six meters thick. There is another gate in this wall, previously intended for a surprise attack, but now they are not used. Towers were built on the northwest and southeast corners in the 15th century, and later the Ottomans turned them into bastions.

Not far from the entrance to the fortress, a well is still preserved, however, it needs to be cleaned. Closer to the eastern wall is a squat turret. This is a gunpowder store built by the Ottomans. The thickness of its walls is two meters, and the ceiling is vaulted: reasonable precautions in case of an explosion of gunpowder.

Next door is another building of a somewhat less archaic appearance. This is a water tower built by the Austrians at the end of the 19th century. It is still functioning.

From the walls of the citadel there is a breathtaking view of the Pliva valley, the Vrbas canyon, and from the eastern wall of the entire old town.



Relics from the Bronze and Iron Ages were found in the town area. A first permanent settlement of the area is revealed by the oldest existing monument, a temple of the god Mithras from the 4th century AD.

Jajce was founded in 1396 by Hrvoje Vukčić Hrvatinić, Duke of Bosnia. At that time, the duke from Split had a fortress built at the confluence of the Pliva and Vrbas and named it Jajce. In the 15th century a town developed below the fortress. The Bosnian King Tvrtko II (1421-1444) made Jajce his royal seat. It gained not only political but also economic importance as the center of the Bosnian state and can be considered the "first capital of Bosnia". However, this heyday ended in 1463. Stjepan Tomašević was crowned as the last Bosnian king in November 1461 by papal legate Nikola of Modruš, a Dalmatian humanist[1], in Jajce before he was captured and executed by the Ottomans in 1463. In the same year they took the city for the first time, but were repelled by the Hungarians. Their king Matthias Corvinus established the "Banat Jajce" in 1464.

Ivaniš Berislavić, a Croatian nobleman, was a banus of Jajce from 1504 to 1514. His task was to protect the borders of Croatia, which was part of the Kingdom of Hungary, from Ottoman attacks. After the Battle of Mohács in 1526, the city came under the Ottoman Empire.

From July 29, 1878, Austro-Hungarian troops occupied Bosnia and Herzegovina in accordance with the decisions of the Berlin Congress. Jajce itself was cast on August 7th. Earlier there had been fighting in the vicinity of the city.

During World War II, Jajce was the scene of important political events due to its location in unoccupied territory. From November 21 to 29, 1943, the 2nd assembly of the Antifascist People's Liberation Council (AVNOJ) met in the building of the former Sokol gymnastics club, at which historical resolutions were passed and the federal concept for socialist Yugoslavia was developed (AVNOJ resolutions). Therefore, Jajce is considered the founding place of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

About 45,000 people lived in Jajce before the Bosnian War; today the municipality has around 30,000 inhabitants, mostly Bosnian Croats and Bosniaks. Tensions repeatedly arose when war refugees returned, and one person died in 1997. During the war, the western districts of the municipality of Jajce split off and today form the municipality of Jezero in the Republic of Srpska.