Fairytale town from a little known country in Europe, with a princess’s castle

 

Maglaj, the little town I’m going to write about, is located about two and half hours of driving, from the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina- Sarajevo.

There is a quite good reason, why I’ve decided that my first article needs to be about this little town in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
There are actually many of them.
The first reason is that there’s probably no travel writer in the world that knows more about it than me.
The second one, more important, is that probably no one that reads this article has ever been there.
The third reason is that- contrary to common belief- there are many things that could be interesting for people to see here.
And, of course, writing about your home town is something that fits into definition of this page, where travel writers and locals; write about every corner of the world.

So, here it is- an article about my “home corner”.

It lies on the coast of the river called Bosnia (the same as the country) and it’s historically divided into two parts, by that same river- old part and the new part.

The name of the city was mentioned for the first time more than 600 years ago, in a document called “Sub castro nostro”- which means “Under our castle”… So… You can easily guess that… There is a castle… The castle is even older that the city itself. It was built in the 12th century and was a place where an aristocratic family actually lived. During the time when the Ottoman Empire held this part of the world, it was changed from the “princess’s castle” to a military fortress, and it kept its role even during the Austro-Hungarian period. Later on, someone somehow, has built a clock tower, which stands there, by the castle as well.

I feel the need to say something about the name of the town itself.
It is called Maglaj- which literally means – “Fog city”…
There is a legend that warriors who came here long time ago, standing on the top of the castle, thought that the fog was actually cotton.
So they jumped from the cliff, on which the castle stands, into the fog, together with their horses… And they have probably lost their bet.

In the old part of the city there are several mosques from the Ottoman period. The biggest one is the identical to the famous central mosque in Sarajevo.

The oldest novel written in Bosnia and Herzegovina was actually about this city, about the older part of the city. The novel is called “Green bushes”, and was written by famous Bosnian writer, Edhem Mulabdić. This part of the town hasn’t changed much, ever since that novel has been written, so you can actually imagine all the places where the plot was located.

The cutest thing ever- there is a 100 years old coffee bar, that still works and looks like a museum, and where you can buy Bosnian coffee, made by the original recipe- and that for only 0, 25 Euros.

There are several types of houses and buildings you can see in the both parts of the city- the ones built during the Ottoman period, the ones from the Austro-Hungarian period, the ones from Yugoslavia, and the newly built ones.
The newer part has it magic, as well. Whether you come here in the summer, spring or autumn (wouldn’t much recommend the winter), you’ll see a lot of colors of nature in the long alleys of catalpas and sycamore trees.
In the big city park, there is something quite odd to see- a stone bowl, maybe a meter wide, about 12 000 years old, made by unknown artist, for unknown purposes.

And this town is, something I personally like to call- my little Jerusalem. The fact is that it is probably the only town in Europe, and maybe in the whole world, where you can find the Catholic, and Orthodox Church, by the mosque, just a few meters away standing by each other. And it is one of the places where you can still feel the living spirit the spirit of the Yugoslavia (I personally prefer not to call it former).
In the newer part of the city, the mosque looks a little bit like a space ship, or at least people say so. The Orthodox Church isn’t much different than any other orthodox church here.
But there is something interesting about the Catholic Church.

 

It was built during the Yugoslavia. It has quite modern and unique look, with windows made of stained glass. Every year a lot of painters, from different parts of the world, come here to the traditional art colony where they paint only the church and the city itself. Those paintings are being held in a house, by the church, for people to see.

It is called the Shrine of St. Leopold Mandić, a saint that has lived in Verona, but for some (for me unknown) reason, some of the bones from his arm are being held here, on a hand, made of gold. There is a replica of his confessional, identical to one in Verona inside of it, and some people come here to pilgrimage.

Locals here are warm and quite hospitable. For the art lovers, there is a nice gallery, where painters, from the country, and around the world, have their exhibitions.
And for the visitors who also want to have fun, there are plenty of coffee bars and clubs, with different types of music.

My favorite is one rock bar, where they have live music, each Friday and Saturday.
As sport attractions, I would mention famous kayak ride and fishing as something that could be interesting.

For the end… I almost forgot…

The best part of the year to visit Maglaj, is in August. There is a traditional festival, called “Student’s summer”, which has been around for more than 50 years, with different events, and includes a huge firework over the castle, a masquerade, sport games, and several music nights, with music competition for young singers, and concerts of famous musicians as the icing on the cake.

Hope you have a reason to consider visiting Maglaj after reading this.

And here is a photo of me on the castle… 🙂

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