There is something about the City of Travnik. Located in the central area of Bosnia and Herzegovina, it offers a great stop for those passing by and going to other locations or for those who want to stay a little bit longer and check all that the city offers and it offers a lot. It will take you only an hour and a half to get there from Sarajevo via M5 and A1/M17/M5. So, let us get started and check what you can see in the city!
Travnik is the old and lovely city that was once the capital of the Eyalet of Bosnia and is home to more than two dozen protected cultural and historic buildings. During the period from 1699 to 1851, it was the capital of the Eyalet of Bosnia, where 77 viziers assumed their duties in this city. Travnik is also specific bearing in mind that it is the only city in Bosnia and Herzegovina that has two clock towers-sundials. It is also the city with the most Muslim tombs or mausoleums, the so-called ‘turbeh’ in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The city’s heart and soul usually lies in the historical districts where streets and buildings resist change. Travnik’s Stari Grad (Old Town) has an Ottoman center with mosques, centuries-old buildings, and two clock towers-sundials. Walking through gives a sense of what life was like in the 18th century when Ottoman governors used the area as their official seat of government. You’ll find the best restaurants in Travnik inside the old town. Most serve grilled meat, cevapi (Bosnian kebabs), and Vlasic Cheese, the famous Travnik cheese.
The ‘Stari Grad Castle’ or the ‘Travnik Castle’ dates back to pre-Ottoman BiH when the former Christian Kingdom ruled the region. The conquering Ottomans later developed and expanded the 14th- or 15th-century castle, transforming it into a fortress with clock towers. Today, the castle is the best preserved in BiH and a national monument, making it a must-do in Travnik for all tourists. You will find a small museum dedicated to its history and an ethnographic section inside.
About a kilometer to the west of Travnik Castle is the Travnik’s oldest mosque. ‘Hasan-agina dzamija’ (Jeni Mosque), completed in 1549 in a classical Ottoman style, predates the official Ottoman Vizier’s seat by more than a century. Every early settlement had at least one central mosque, and Jeni was Travnik’s central mosque. Throughout the almost 500-year lifespan, it has been destroyed and rebuilt several times. If you want to appreciate the rich history of the town, Jeni Mosque rates as one of the best things to see in Travnik. Colorful murals cover the ‘Sulejmanija Mosque’ (Sulejmanija), ‘Many-Coloured Mosque’ (Sarena dzamija) or ‘Ornamented Mosque’s’ exterior, making it one of the more intriguing Travnik attractions. Built in the 16th century, the color has since faded and today, the mosque has three horizontal stripes. Tall arches form the lower and colorful murals decorate the top with a white-washed middle. However, the ‘Sulejmanija Mosque’ has another characteristic making it somewhat unusual in the Islamic world. Below the main prayer room sits a Bezistan (Bedestan), or a small bazaar, selling a selection of Bosnian souvenirs, clothes, and snacks. According to local sources, this is the only mosque in the world with a market at its base.
For a window into the former glory of this historical town, visit the ‘Turbe’ (Vizier’s Graves). A total of 77 viziers called Travnik their home. The archaeological site has the tombs of the former rulers along with Ottoman officials and revered poets. Opposite the ‘UniCredit Bank’, you’ll see an arched ceremonial dome on pillars. The tombs are underneath. If you visit Travnik, the graves will give you an appreciation of town’s historical importance.
It would be a real shame to leave Travnik without visiting the ‘Ivo Andric Museum’. Late Nobel Prize winner Ivo Andric was one of the renowned writers in the former Yugoslavia, author of ‘Na Drini Cuprija’ (The Bridge on the Drina) and the novel ‘Travnicka hronika’ (The Bosnian Chronicle: A Novel). The museum, inside an Ottoman-style house to replicates Ivo’s home, displays relics of his life. A few years later, he moved from Travnik to Visegrad.
If you are visiting Travnik for longer than a day trip, head to the Mountain Village Galica, located a few kilometers before the town and it gives excellent views of the valleys. The Devecani Highland Area has an 8-kilometer, easy-medium level hiking trail around the ridge, typically taking less than four hours to complete. Some of BiH’s most beautiful natural sites are in and around Travnik.
One of the most famous tourist attractions of Travnik is certainly the ‘Plava Voda’ (Blue Water). It is located in the village of ‘Sumece’, where the Blue Water springs, which flows into the River Lasva along the ‘Hendek’ stream. A series of wooden bridges crisscross over the water. Restaurants and bars line the water’s edge, serving as a serene spot for photographs and to enjoy a meal. Relaxing in this environment is one of the best things to do in Travnik after exploring the old town and visiting the fortress. In the summer months, many travelers come here for a short break and enjoy the clear water, large ponds, accompanying greenery, or a holiday with drinks and coffee or the well-known ‘cevapi’. For the locals of the vizier's city, it is certainly one of the favorite places.
The most interesting location on the ‘Blue Water’ is ‘Lutvina kahva’ (Lutvo’s Coffee), a small tavern that was visited by Rudolf Habsburg on June 18, 1887, and donated money to renovate the tavern. It was at this place that the work of the Andric’s novel ‘Travnicka hronika’ (The Bosnian Chronicle: A Novel) began in 1807 and ended seven years later. The tavern used to be a modest wooden house, where Travnik’s beys would sit and gather. There is a special story about how the coffee that people drank here today became so famous. In the June 1887 in Travnik, in the place of today’s ‘Plava Voda’, the Austrian Archduke and the Austro-Hungarian heir to the throne, Rudolph Franz Karl Joseph, the only son of the emperor Franz Joseph I and Duchess Elisabeth in Bavaria, came for a visit. The renowned guest had coffee and gave the owner a ducat, which he would keep for years in a special china closet, including the ‘dzezva’ (coffee pot) and ‘fildzan’ (cup) that the prince used when drinking coffee. This china closet was handed down from owner to owner of the establishment and after that visit, the coffee officially got the name Rudolph’s coffee. Over time, the name Rudolph’s coffee was changed to Lutvo’s coffee because people called it that for years and the name has stuck until today. What makes this coffee special is that you get a Turkish delight a matchbox and a cigarette along with it. As Andric says in his novel ‘Travnicka hronika’ (The Bosnian Chronicle: A Novel): “Not even the oldest people remember that first owner of the cafe, Lutvo; that guy has been on one of the scattered graveyards of Travnik for at least a hundred year but everyone goes to Lutvo’s for coffee and his name is remembered and pronounced in the spot where the manes of so many sultans, viziers and beys have been forgotten…”. A short time prior to his significant visit, the house where Rudolph had coffee was renovated and colored in characteristic yellow and orange horizontal stripes in a pseudo-Moorish style, as were all significant buildings form that time, such as for example, the Sarajevo City Hall or the City Hall in Brcko. This look has been preserved until today. Its interior is decorated in a traditional Bosnian style. In this most beautiful spot in the town, as many claim to be, called ‘Plava Voda’, until November 1906, the numerous springs and rivulets were sent into constant motion by watermills and the wooden pillars that crushed the oak bark which was required for tanning in Travnik tanneries or ‘tabhane’ of which only the foundations are left downstream of the Lasva River. Apart from ‘Plava Voda’, this town, is certainly worth seeing in details.