Because of its important strategic position along main routes and favorable life conditions, the town of Bihac was equaly blessed and cursed!
Bihac's turbulent history proves it.
Bihac through time
The long and turbulent history has left its mark on this, in many ways, unique historical town, therefore, don't expect the "love at first sight". Bihac needs a bit more than just a short visit, only then the town and its residents will easily win your attention and affection.
The old town, whose name was mentioned for the first time back in 1260 in the charter of the Croatian - Hungarian king Bela IV, is waiting to be explored.
Man's presence in the area was proven by numerous sites from the Stone Age, late Bronze Age, and Iron Age.
Since the 8th century B.C., the culture of lapodes, an Ilyrian tribe, is spreading from Slovenia through Croatia's Gorski Kotar and Lika regions to the area of present day Bihac.
A non-violent and very important spiritual and material cultural heritage of lapodes lasted until the year 35 B.C.
Thanks to abundant archeological remains of the tribe, Bihac has become an important center of the lapodes' cultural heritage. Today, you can learn more about the the first known residents of these territories at the Museum of Una-Sana Canton in Bihac. Worth visiting!
After a long time of peaceful life, this land is conquered by Roman legions.
This area was conquered by the roman general Octavian in 35 B.C. and annexed to the Roman province of Dalmatia.
The monuments from the late antique period witness about the arrival of the first Christians in the period of the development of early Christianity.
Many monuments from the antiquity have been preserved like the walled spring of the famous thermal spring Gata Ilidza and a larger building near the source.
According to the analysis, the thermal waters of the Gata spring are second in Europe by their quality and proportions of minerals.
The Middle Ages start with the first Slavs arriving at these regions in the early 7th century. The area of Bihac is mostly inhabited by Croats who soon formed their own state. During this time Croatia is ruled either by dukes or by kings.
A powerfull Croatian kingdom, Regnum Croatiae, is formed under the king Tomislav of the royal House of Trpimirović, with Bihać region as one of the prominent parts of the kingdom.
Bihac is then mentioned as the bihac region, where the noun “bihac” means the “royal property”. In 1102, the Kingdom of Croatia, and Bihac as a part of it, entered a personal union with the Kingdom of Hungary.
In 1262, the Croatian-Hungarian king Bela IV issued a charter proclaiming Bihac the free royal town.
The freedom obtained by the charter referred to the freedom of trade and crafts, without the arbitrariness of the nobles.
Bihac develops as an urban commercial and artisan town, it is well fortified because of its strategic location with double ramparts with loopholes and round towers.
During this period Bihac is attractive for new settlers and is in constant progress, but due to the dynastic struggles for the Croatian-Hungarian throne, very often drawn into conflicts.
The town preserves its status of a free royal town until 1412 when the Croatian-Hungarian king Sigismund gives it as a gift to the one of the leading Croatian aristocratic families - the noble Frankopan Family, who are the owners of the town until the 16th century.
On the Captain’s tower in Bihac, you can still see the coat of arms of the house of Frankopan.
In the Glagolitic charter (document) from the late 14th century, a seal from the medieval Bihac was preserved with three towers, the central one with the flag and inscription “The seal of the town of Bihac”. The same motif has a current coat of arms of the Town of Bihac.
Today, the Captain's Tower holds an important part of the collection of the Museum of Una-Sana Canton. Worth visiting!!
During this period Bihac is the location of several sessions of the Croatian parliament, which proves its important position in the Kingdom. But this is also the time of the increasingly difficult problems related to the invading Ottoman armies.
With the heavy military defeat by the Ottoman Turks at the battle of Mohacs in 1526. and the death of Louis II, King of Hungary and Croatia, who was killed during the battle together with more than 20,000 of his men, Croatian and Hungarian nobles were seeking for ways to more effectively defend against the turkish invasion.
The next step, following the decision made by the majority of the nobility, was a treaty of Alliance with Austria, and the election of Ferdinand I of the House of Habsburg as King on 1 January, 1527 at Cetin.
In 1527, after the election of Ferdinand I, Bihac once again receives the status of the free royal town!
The town is now under the direct rule of the king, known as the Bihac captaincy.
The remains of the medieval Bihac and the western European medieval cultural heritage can still be found in modern-day Bihac.
From the mid-16th century, through the next one hundred years Bihac was resisting the attacks of the Ottoman Empire.
In 1592, 130 years after the fall of the medieval Bosnian state and 100 years after the Krbava battle, the resistance and defense lead by the commander Josip Lamberg was broken under the attacks of the Ottoman leader Hasan-pasha Predojevic.
It’s believed that the commander Predojevic was born in a small town of Sanski Most in an orthodox family, under the name Niko Predojevic. After the Ottomans conquered his region, his life changed, he converts to Islam and acquires a new name, Hasan.
Bosnian beys (a bey in Turkish means “sir” and is the leader of small Turkish tribal groups) started to colonize the Krajina and Lika region with Vlachs from the already conquered parts of the country.
Bihac is now an important trading center located in then formed Bihac sanjak (an administrative district).
Border Between The Empires
In Bihac's close vicinity, on the Pljesivica plateau, was the border between the Austro-Hungarian and the Ottoman Empire with the important control station and headquarters Rastel (Raštel) in the mountain village of Zavalje, the former municipality in the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Rastel was an important veterinary-sanitary control station and the medical control headquarters for people and goods coming from the Ottoman Empire.
The construction of Rastel started in 1795, changing the shape and the size through time. It was the center of the military, district, and municipality administration surrounded by 2,5 m high wall with loopholes. Despite the hostility between the two Empires, the Rastel Complex was the point of dynamic life and commerce.
Learn more astonishing, natural and historical facts about Mount Licka Pljesivica under -Explore Local! Worth Climbing!
The region was under the Turkish rule until 1878, the Ottoman culture is spreading and the town is changing and obtaining new zones:
- "čaršija" - the commercial, economic zone of the town
- "mahale" - residential zones.
The sinergy between the West and the East is symbolically represented in the Mosque Fethija.
Originally built in 1266 as the church of Anthony of Padua, it was turned into a mosque after the Ottoman conquest of Bihac. The original church was built in a gothic style, and even today you can see the gothic rosette above the entrance to the mosque and next to it - the minaret. Great photo location!
Nine plates with coats of arms of the Croatian nobility, which were once inside the church of St. Anthony of Padua, are situated today in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The Ottoman culture, just like other cultures that were present here, left its marks in all areas of town's life and made its own contribution in the creation of unique Bihac mentality and multicultural society.
In 1878, after the decision of the Berlin Congress Bihac is again part of the Christian Europe, this time as part of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy.
A new period of changes begins. Both "čaršija" and "mahala" started to change into city districts.
Old town walls of the free royal town are destroyed and the town starts to grow:
- public, cultural and educational institutions are being built;
- sewerage system;
- water supply system;
- electric power system;
- the map of the city is created;
- the post office is opened;
- the city park is being arranged;
- the banks and the factory are opened;
- new crafts are developed.
Second World War
History of Bihac continues and new political systems, associations, and war conflicts are imposed.
In 1942, during the Second World War Bihac is on the liberated territory and is a location of the first session of the Antifascist Council for the National Liberation of Yugoslavia, playing a crucial role in the battle against fascism.
Find out more about this event, vist the AVNOJ Museum in Bihac!
Bosnia and Herzegovina
After the breakdown of Yugoslavia, Bihac is part of now independent Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Sadly, at the very beginning of its independence, Bosnia and Herzegovina was caught up in a horrible war. Bihac was under siege for four years and going through dreadful humanitarian crises.
In the summer of 1995, the defenders of the Fifth Corps and the Croatian Defense Council of Bosnia and Herzegovina joined the Croatian army on the Korana River and saved the citizens of Bihac and the town itself from an even bigger suffering.
Bihac has not yet recovered from these horrors, and the biggest of them has certainly been the loss of a large number of residents, and among them numerous members of the academic community.
Significant documentation was destroyed during the war, including extensive documentation of the research conducted in the area today covered by Una National Park - one of our 2Parks.
Bihac, as well as the whole region, is burdened with numerous historical traumas, here almost every generation remembers one.
The effects of traumas have not disappeared, they have left a deep mark in the collective consciousness of its inhabitants and influance the lives of people and the town in the 21st century.
Although today an administrative, economic and cultural center of the Una-Sana Canton, in front of this previously prosperous town is a demanding road to recovery.
There are many problems, but the most dominant and pressing one is the lack of modern, green industries and production. Fewer and fewer citizens have inner strength for entrepreneurship, and the vast majority is trying to find safety in public services. Same as on the other side of the border, that unhealthy disparity between public and private sector could only lead to further impoverishment, as well as the passive acquiescence of the widely present crony capitalism.
With the awakening of a new consciousness, there is absolutely no bigger priority than everlasting peace and unity, only under such conditions can we create a prosperous society that will benefit both humans and nature.
But the spirit of the old trade town is still alive, with two enterprise zones Bihac wants to stimulate the development of local entrepreneurship as well as to attract investors. The road network and the railway traffic connects it well with the rest of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as with Croatia and its ports on the Adriatic Sea.
- tourist - rehabilitation center "Terme Gata";
- tourist - recreational - skiing center "Duga Luka";
- tourist and sports airport "Golubic";
Support them in making these changes, stay a bit longer to reveal the true face of ancient settlements and wonderful people who have prepared their products and services to visitors – you. Empower local communities to offer their best!
Get to know Krajina people, who are: warm-hearted, hospitable, honest, tolerant, great gourmands with a sense of humor and a unique West-East genetic combination!
Together for the environment
- recycling is a big problem in the town, so we urge you to remove all packaging possible prior to your trip;
- explore the town and the countryside on foot, bike or use a public transport - give your car a rest and help reduce car emissions;
- when shopping for your trip, choose items that come in compostable packaging;
- buy food items in bulk when possible, utilizing reusable bags and containers;
- bring reusable water bottles - avoid/reduce plastic use;
- use refillable coffee cups, most commercial cups are generally unrecyclable;
- be energy and water wise;
- please take litter with you - don't litter around;
- opt for digital versions of maps, rather than paper.
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Our calendar of Events and Activities is packed full of ideas for touring - so get your dose of inspiration and come visit Bihac, the open air museum, and surroundings!
Welcome to the home of the Una National Park!