Travnik

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The valley reappeared in 1244, in terms of primary historical records, when the Hungarian King Bela IV gave one of his notables a piece of land in Lasva. By that time, the area was a feudal estate of the Bosnian state.

Although remains from these centuries do not show the wealth the valley had known in Roman times, the era did have its share of castles and mansions. The Travnik Fortress was the most impressive fortress at the time, and still stands out as the best preserved of them all. This era gave Travnik its name.

The Ottoman era renewed the glory of Travnik. It was the principal city and military centre of the Ottoman Empire. It was from here that the Ottomans planed their invasions further towards the southwest. They brought mosques, religious schools, roads and water systems. They fortified the medieval fortress and built a mini-city within its high stone walls. For over 150 years, the vizier – the Ottoman Sultan's representative in Bosnia - had his headquarters in this town, attracting both consulates and trade. Travelers visiting Travnik in this era were impressed by the town and called it the European Istanbul and the most oriental town in Bosnia. Ivo Andrić's brilliant 'Travnik Chornicle' gives you a feel of this period.

Top sights in Travnik:

Castle in Travnik (Stari Grad)

Travnik's castle surveys the city from a shoulder of hillside above Plava Voda. The stone walls seem so bright in sunshine that they appear to have been scrubbed. The restored multisided keep houses a modest museum of local history and costumes and there are lovely city views from the summer cafe, Garbun.
To get here on foot, start from the east side of the Many Coloured Mosque, take the pedestrian underpass beneath the M5 and walk five minutes steeply up Varoš (10 minutes if the weather's really hot). You enter across a high-arched stone bridge that spans a gently cascading stream. To descend to Plava Voda, turn east at Varoš 40 along Musala and take the stairway called Hendek.

Archaeological site in Travnik (Vizier's Graves)

Travnik was long home to Bosnia's Ottoman governors (viziers) and many of their finely carved tombstones remain along with those of prominent court officials and poets. Opposite UniCredit Bank, four such graves are gathered under two distinctive ceremonial domes balanced on stone pillars that were once colourfully painted. Between the two is a dribbling drinking fountain with Arabic inscription stone (dated AH 1271, ie 1885 AD).
On the other side of the road beside the MediaShop computer store, there's an Ottoman stone arch through which are more graves. One is an octagonal 'turbe' and associated marble fountain tower (rebuilt 2011) that looks a little like a Parisian newspaper stall.

Mosque in Travnik (Haji Alibey Mosque)

Paired photogenically with the four-storey, mid-18th-century Sahat Kula (stone clock tower), this two-storey mosque's distinctive features are the green wooden filigree on its frontage, faded paintwork on the door arch, a metal-tipped minaret and two old inscription stones in Arabic.
For historians, what makes it is unique in Bosnia is that it retains a sun dial (solar 'clock') on its southwest wall, the corner that juts out into the wooded garden behind. Don't expect too much – it's just a metal spike on a heavily worn inscribed stone. The mosque is towards the bus-station end of Travnik's main street facing a restored neo-Moorish court building across Vezirska.

Mosque in Travnik (Many Coloured Mosque)

This iconic mosque was named for its famous muralled facade. The colours have since faded but the building remains notable for the bezistan (minibazaar) built into the stone arched arcade beneath the main prayer house.
Marking Travnik's centrepoint, there's been a mosque here since the 16th century. The current form dates from 1757, albeit largely reconstructed after a major fire in 1815. Enter from the rear.

Viewpoint in Travnik (Galica)

Some 6km before Vlašić, on the back route from Travnik, the diffuse village of Galica has a couple of old wooden barn-huts as well as a beautiful panoramic view that's well worth a brief photo stop.
It is also a possible starting point for hiking or off-roading up into the Devečani highland area where there's a climbers' cabin named after Yusuf Pečenković.

Area in Travnik (Plava Voda)

Translating as Blue Water, Plava Voda is a convivial gaggle of restaurants flanking a merrily gurgling stream, criss-crossed by small bridges.
To get here when descending from the Stari Grad fortress, turn left on Musala beside Varoš 40 and immediately left again down the Hendek stairway. Emerging on Šumeća near Motel Aba, turn left.

Ivo Andrić Museum

Fans of Bosnian Chronicle might be tempted to look inside this Ottoman-style house designed (in the 1970s) to simulate Andrić's birthplace. There are only two museum rooms but some labels are in English and the cafe-bar downstairs has a pleasant walled courtyard.
It's one block off Bosanska (north between 171 and 169).

Tower in Travnik (Sahat Kula)

There are two 18th-century stone clock towers in Travnik. The more famous one is beside the Haji Alibey Mosque, but a second taller one is hidden away off the lane leading up to Stari Grad.
Duck into a gap between the houses beside Varoš 8 to see it.

Architecture in Travnik (Elči-Ibrahimpaša Madrassa)

This beautifully restored Moorish-style Islamic school building lies just off the main highway close to the Plava Voda area.

Sv Ivana Krstitelja Church

This salmon-pink church has a Saxon-style spired tower plated with verdigris-green copper sheeting. The most interesting feature is the bust of Ivo Andrić in the small garden in front, whose bizarrely carved eyes seem more suited to a giant fly than to a great author.

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