With its imposing fortress and rushing waterfalls dramatically set in the centre of town, Jajce is a showstopper of a historical town and well worth a visit on either a day trip or stopover if travelling onwards to the northern part of Croatia. From ancient to modern history, this town has always been significant to Bosnia and Herzegovina and as a result has much to offer in terms of cultural attractions.
What to see and do in Jajce
Jajce was another key city in the creation of the second Yugoslavia during World War II. It was here, in November 1943, that Tito and the anti-fascist Partisans’ council from Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Macedonia declared Yugoslavia a federal, socialist people’s state. This museum is a tribute holding an array of various Partisan documents, weapons, photographs and other exhibits.
Believed to have been built in the early 15th century by order of Duke Hrvoje Vukčić, this is the only catacomb ever found in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Jajce took on great importance towards the end of the Bosnian kingdom era.
The catacombs are located within the city walls but do not keep regular operating hours. It is best to check with the tourist information centre or jump on a town tour where the guide has already arranged for the catacombs to be open.
St Mary’s Church/Mehmed II Mosque
St Mary’s Church dates from the early to mid 1400s and was the place where a Papal council crowned the last Bosnian king, Stjepan Tomašević, in 1461. The large bell tower, named after St Luke, is the most visible and intact part of the ancient complex. It is the only medieval bell tower remaining on the continental Balkan peninsula.
When the Ottomans overran Bosnia in 1528, the church was converted to a mosque. After several fires the church/mosque was put out of commission by the mid 19th century. It is located in the old town.
Temple of the God Mithra
Estimated to have been built in the 4th century AD, the temple for the deity of sun and light is the only one of its kind in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Although the cult of the invincible sun was widespread throughout the Roman Empire and the Romans had settled in the territory of present-day Bosnia and Herzegovina from the 1st century, no other traces of this cult have been found elsewhere.
The temple itself still bears visible carvings to their deity as well a handful of statues from that era. The Mithras temple is open to visitors but, as with many attractions in Jajce, it doesn’t keep regular hours. There is no entrance fee.
This medieval fortification crowns the hilltop settlement of the old town. Built sometime in the 13th century, the fortress eventually became the Bosnian royal residence in the early 15th century.
A stone-carved shield on the fortress walls indicates that in 1421 Jajce became the seat of the kingdom that lasted between Tvrtko II and King Tomašević’s rule. The walled fortress is open for visitors and the wall walks provide phenomenal views of the surrounding area.
Locals claim this waterfall is among the 12 most beautiful in the world. It’s on the official site of the tourism association. Who has actually ranked it 12th is never mentioned. The important thing here is that this waterfall is most definitely stunning and it gives Jajce its most unique brand. In the centre of the town, it cascades 21m into the Vrbas River. It may not compare to Mostar’s, but a diving competition is held on the first weekend of August every year.
The best view for a photograph is from the bridge at the southwestern entrance to Jajce from the Donji Vakuf direction. Alternately, you can check it out from down below on the viewing platform (4/2KM adult/child) opposite the base of the falls. Expect to get a little wet.
Getting to Jajce
Jajce is located about halfway between Sarajevo and Bihać along the M-5. If driving from Sarajevo or Mostar, the drive takes about 2½ hours (160km) and from Banja Luka 1 hour and 15 minutes (70km). Many people stop for a visit in Jajce when traveling between Sarajevo and Zagreb.
Buses go several times a day from Sarajevo to Jajce and take just under 4 hours. It is well connected by public transport to many other cities around central and western Bosnia including Mostar, Bihać, Zenica, Travnik, and Bugojno.