The area was settled from at least Illyrian and Roman times, but the town itself was first mentioned in 1260, in a document of King Bela IV. Bihac is a charming little town centered on the banks of the Una River.
The town is teeming with café’s that inevitably gravitate around the beautiful Una. It is more than worth a visit to Bihac or any of the towns that live off these emerald waters. It is a great place for a stop over if you're on your way down to the Croatian coast or have visited the Plitvice National Park just across the border. Or better yet, to really experience the magic of this body of water – go stay for a few days, walk along the banks, raft down its amazing falls, or simply sit and listen to the wise tales water always tells.
Close to town is Sokolac, a perfectly preserved fortification built by the Austrians in the 14th century. Christianity and Islam met and often clashed here. The present-day Fathija Mosque was once the Church of St Anton.
The stecci in the square mark the presence of the heretic Bosnian Church in these parts. The town square is dominated by the Kapetanova Tower (used as a lookout tower), the Zvonik Church and an Ottoman turbe, proving the multi-ethnic flavour this community has maintained. The Town has very nice exhibits of local artists
The Pounje Museum on the same street is a tiny museum with many Illyrian, Roman, Austrian and Ottoman arte facts discovered in the area. If you ask the folk from Bihac what there is to see their first answer will be the Una. The Una River is treated as a member of the family and the people of Bihac have the strongest collective ecological consciousness in the country. The width of the Una River that runs through the town is about 30m. The full length of the river, beginning in the Croatian Krajina and entering the Sava at Jasenovac, is 207km. It is the fourth-largest river in Bosnia and Herzegovina with a volume of 270m3 per second. But the people won't tell you that. They will tell you about the blue waters that have dug deep limestone canyons, the fertile valleys fed by her water, their favorite swimming hole as a kid and, without exception, the thrill of whitewater rafting on the mighty Una.
Top sights in Bihać:
This 'victory' mosque is arguably the most interesting historical building in central Bihać, though not its most beautiful. Originally a 13th-century Gothic church, it was converted into a mosque after 1592 when the city fell to the Ottoman Turks after years of resistance. It retains the church's original rose window and stone entry portal and grafts on a minaret. However, its location is depressingly bland, between the low-rise Una Cinema and the pitiful little vegetable market.
Mosque in Bihac (Džamija)
Looking more like a space station than a place of worship, this is one of Bosnia's most architecturally daring mosques.
Tower in Bihac (St Anthon's Church Tower)
Dating from 1894, albeit on the site of a far older medieval structure, the tower's distinctive look comes from 1941 when a double storey was added from the remnants of a demolished Orthodox church. The attached Catholic church was briefly one of Bosnia's biggest but only for three years – that was hit by WWII allied bombing during 1944 and destroyed.
The structure looks sturdy but is closed by metal-slat gates fastened with a rusty bolt and guarded by a (less than aggressive) dog.
Mausoleum in Bihac (Turbe)
This octagonal mausoleum, with ogive stone windows in each side, contains two tombs, though curiously nobody is sure exactly who is buried beneath. The commonest theory is that they were Turkish lords who died defending the city from Austro-Hungarian attack at some point.
Castle in Bihac (Captain's Tower)
When Bihać was little more than a lonely fortress, this square-plan shingle-roofed castle tower is said to have offered refuge to the Hungarian King Bela IV who was so grateful he gave Bihać a free-city charter in 1260. Since then it has been used as a prison and museum but nowadays the black metal door is usually locked.