Banja Luka is
dominated by the Vrbas River and Tvrdava Kastel that was
built on its banks. Tvrdava survived earthquakes and wars and is one of
the best-preserved castles in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Parts of it are
still intact and in use.
It was originally a much smaller Roman fortress,
strengthened by the Slavs and expanded by the Ottomans when Banja Luka
became a main frontier town from which the Ottomans defended their empire
against the Austro-Hungarians.
main park on Karadordevica Street, called Mladen Stojanovic Park,
has a large pedestrian area, several tennis courts, a café and a
restaurant. The park is filled with locals, making it a great spot for
mingling with the Banja Lukans. The main traffic-free strolling street is
Gospodska Ulica, the first and foremost shopping street in town.
The Cultural Centre Banski Dvor (Trg
srpskih vladara 2; tel: + 387 51 300 686; email: firstname.lastname@example.org) is situated in
a beautiful building with park that originally served as the governor's
residence. It has programmes of performances, concerts, poetry and other
events several days a week. You have to check the schedule when you
The eco-tourism experience
been a recent revival of eco-tourism activities in and around Banja Luka.
Most of the activities centre around the Vrbas river (see the separate
section). But there are also activities that do not specifically relate to
Vrbas, like paragliding. Check out the Tours, activities and other services
section for more details.
Around Banja Luka
Bocac is a 15th century medieval town situated
on the left bank of the Vrbas River, half way between Banja Luka and
Jajce. There have been several initiatives to create eco-centers to
preserve its natural beauty and clean the river from buildup from the
hydro-electric dam. It has been placed on the list of national monuments
by the government of Republika Srpska. If you're up for a wander, the road
leading south out of Banja Luka through the Vrbas Canyon will take you
Gomionica Monastery is one of the finest
examples of eastern Orthodox monasteries in northern Bosnia. The monastery
also has a church on the grounds dedicated to Vavedenje Bogorodice by
Bronzani Mejdan, dated 1536. In similar styles as the orthodox monasteries
in the Carpathian Mountains in Romania, there are several fresco paintings
preserved and a great number of valuable icons and old manuscripts. One
can also find an interesting collection of old printed books (all in
Cyrillic), as well as other precious objects of art crafts used for the
Krupa na Vrbasu Monastery of St. Ilija
above the grounds of the church is the medieval fortress of Greben town
situated in the Vrbas Canyon. It is believed that the original church was
built within the ancient town but with most of the fortress in ruins and
little archeological work completed it has not been confirmed. In the 15th
century, the feudal family Vojsalic, successors of Hrvoje Vukcic
Hrvatinic, took care of maintenance of the Monastery below the Greben
Grad. The Church of St. Ilija in Krupa on the Vrbas was rebuilt in 1889
shortly after the fall of the Ottoman Empire by Sava
Trapisti Franciscan Monastery of Marija
The colony of Trapista was established in Banja Luka (Delibasino
1869 and the old church of the Trapisti Monastery was built between 1874
and 1875. Apart from the liturgical objects made of precious metals dated
from the 19-20th century, the collection of Trapisti Monastery includes
two precious paintings: the Crucifixion and St. Filomena, both Venetian
works form the 16th century. Like most monasteries it too has a collection
of old printed books, among which is the collection of epistles of St
Augustin, printed in Bazel in 1493. The monastery is well-known for the
delicious white cheese that the monks have been producing for over a
Romanovci is a small wooden
church located near the town of Gradiska to the northwest of Banja Luka.
It is dedicated to St. Nikola by the villagers of Romanovci on the eastern
slopes of Kozara Mountain, 20 km south of Gradiska. It was built in the
first half of the 18th century and is one of the few remaining wooden
orthodox structures in the country.
Slatina is a small town 13km
northeast of Banja Luka where 43° water flows from the earth at Banja
Slatina (Slatina bb; Laktasi, tel: + 387 58 587 222/210).
The spa has a hotel that has tapped into the warm waters and
built a complex with thermal baths. It is worth a night or two if you are
in the region for a while. There are several buses a day to Slatina from
Banja Luka. A 20-minute taxi ride from Banja Luka will cost around 20KM.
Alternatively, Banja Laktasi is also less than 20km out of town. It
is equally easily accessible by bus, and has
been a functioning spa ever since Roman times. The third spa in the
region, in Srpske Toplice, has no hotel but
a pool that is nicely situated under a hill.