birthplace of the Bosnian state, this region has shaped much of the
cultural and historical heritage of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Today,
monuments around the region and, more strikingly, the region's everyday
culture bear witness to Central Bosnia's rich and diverse history.
A short history
The central part of Bosnia and
Herzegovina was the seat of the Bosnian state in medieval times. Known as
the Srebrena Bosna (Silver Bosna) region, it was the political, cultural
and religious heart of Bosnia. All the Bosnian kings resided here. The
unique 'heretic' Bosnian Church was the spiritual backbone of the small
Slav communities that dotted the lush, green countryside until the 14th
By 1340 the Franciscans had established their first order in
Bosnia and in a short space of time Catholicism spread and monasteries
were built in Kraljeva Sutjeska, Visoko, Kresevo and Fojnica. With the
arrival of the Ottomans in the mid 15th century, Ottoman culture asserted
its influence in places like Travnik, Visoko, Donji Vakuf and Jajce.
Travnik became not only the main city in central Bosnia, but also the
centre of the Ottoman Empire's establishment in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Mahalas sprang up in many towns and the spread of Islam had a major impact
on life in the region. Small settlements developed into towns and cities,
and the once isolated mountain communities became more intercon- nected.
The Lasva Valley was a main trading route from Dalmatia, Serbia and
beyond. Travnik, heralded as the European Istanbul, soon became known for
its magnificent oriental architecture and bustling trade centers. Of all
the ethnically mixed communities in Bosnia, this region in particular
enjoyed a harmonious balance of Catholic and Muslim inhabitants (with a
much smaller Orthodox community). The Catholics feel strongly rooted and
view themselves as the only continual line of defenders of the ancient
Christian Bosnian state. The Central Bosnian Franciscans are the heart and
soul of this sentiment and, unlike many of their Franciscan counterparts
in western Herzegovina, remain loyal to the preservation of Bosnia and
It is impossible to find a central Bosnian town
or community that hasn't intimately meshed with the other. Exploring
central Bosnia's ancient fortresses, monasteries, mosques and highland
villages is a journey into the very heart of the original Bosnian state
and its long line of Slavic ancestors who have inhabited these lands since
the 7th century.