Jajce – a Tale of Kings, Sultans, Marshals and Hobbits (Part I)

June 20, 2017

My first memory of Jajce – one of this year’s Mastercard’s Top Hidden Treasures – goes back to the early 80s. I remember going on a trip with my parents. Where to exactly – I really don’t know. I recall that we took a bus. Why the bus and not our car – I can’t recall either. The only thing I do remember, is my mother waking me up from my sleep, while my father was holding me in his arms and her saying: “Look down munchkin.”. And there it was… right under our feet and in all of its glory – the Pliva waterfall. To me, the water falling down looked just like a long and shining girls’ hair.

That image remained eternally archived in the mental photo album of my childhood. My mom doesn’t remember where we went, or that she woke me up. She says that the three of us actually visited Jajce once, but that it was a two-day trip and she kept mentioning some towers and lakes, but none of those pictures were familiar to me. It’s even possible that I’ve only dreamt of Jajce and the waterfall. And that wouldn’t have been strange at all, darlings, since Jajce is a city full of stories that dreams and fairytales are made of. Fortresses, kings, sultans, mighty waters…

Too many years later, this time completely awake, fully grown up and in the company of my associate on the blog – a talented photographer Alma Hadžić, I’ve “set my sails” for Jajce, now a municipality of 30,000 inhabitants in central Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In case the starting point for your trip to Jajce, darlings, is Sarajevo – as it was the case for me – the journey you will take is about 150 km long. But, if you are coming from Banja Luka, it will only take you some 70 km. And if Mostar is your point of departure, then prepare yourself for some 160 km long journey. However, those numbers don’t mean much, since in Bosnia and Herzegovina the distances between cities are much better measured in time then in kilometres. ;-) In order to honour the tradition of my (real or imaginary) childhood trip to this city ;-), I again decided to take the bus and it was a great choice. Then the first one, of the many impressive sights that the city has to offer – the Pliva waterfalls – is situated only some 100 m away from the bus station on the way to the city centre.

And so the two of us met again. The waterfall and I. :-) But I will be telling you so much more about this nature’s wonder later on in the post. And it is a true wonder, darlings! Then, are you familiar with any other city in the world that has an actual and natural waterfall in its downtown?! :-) I really don’t, but if you do – please share it with me in the comments. :-)

You will reach the centre of the old city of Jajce by crossing the bridge on the river Pliva (Look! There is the Museum of the Second Session of AVNOJ! But we will go there later. ;-)) and going through the Travnik gate (some people call it also Pliva or South gate). On the other side of the city is the so-called Banja Luka gate. Both of them got their names from the cities that you can reach, if you head in one of those two directions.

Regarding the time you would need to spend in Jajce in order to see all the sights, I can recommend two options for you, darlings. It all depends on what type of traveller you are. In fact, you actually can very generally see all the historical and cultural locations, as well as the natural pearls situated in and around the city in only one full day. That said, although on my journeys around the world I haven’t seen a smaller city with a higher concentration of tourist attractions. ;-) Just imagine –  24 registered national monuments are located in Jajce! A true Top Hidden Treasure. ;-) But if you really want to explore and enjoy everything that this city and the area around it have to offer on culture, history and nature, it would be a shame now to stay at least a day longer. :-)

And not to mention the waterfall that you need to see under the night lights. :-)

That brings me to the question – when is the best time to visit Jajce and what this city has to offer? If you’re a nature lover and a fan of water sports, then Summer is the best time to stop by. Kayak and canoe riding,  rafting on the river Pliva, fishing (in 2015  Jajce was the host of the World Flyfishing Championship), bike riding (in May there is even a bike-riding event called “Biciklijada”), and the famous Waterfall Jumping Competition held traditionally on the first Saturday in August, the Fear for Tourism & Organic Products… those are only some of the many activities you can pursue during the Summer months in Jajce. But also in the Winter the city has its charm, darlings. Just imagine how the waterfall might look when the temperatures go bellow zero. Now that’s the real story of “Frozen”. ;-) And in case you wish to share your beautiful experiences from Jajce with your friends in real-time, the city is there to assist you. :-) Then in the old city you can find an open and free Wi-Fi the network (Wi-Fi: opcinajajce), which is going to be extended to the fortress, the waterfall and the watermills very soon.  Isn’t that WUNDERBAR?! :-)

With regard to the accommodation, I can highly recommend the charming Hotel Stari grad, which is situated in the heart of the old city of Jajce and as such a perfect starting point for your explorations. The affordable room fares (ca. €47 for a double room and ca. €67 for an apartment) also include a yummy breakfast and an addition of wonderful hospitality and great service.

What I thought was particularly cute, was the fact that rooms and apartments in this hotel have special names. For example the three luxurious apartments were called: “Waterfall”, “Tito” and “Esma Sultani”.

The room where we were staying was called “The Catacombs”, however it was everything else but dark and cold – on the contrary darlings. :-)

One more particularity of the hotel is that it’s been constructed on the remains of an old hammam. You can enjoy the view of its foundation through the glass floor in the hotel’s restaurant.

Speaking of restaurants, you’re probably wondering what and where to eat in Jajce? Well, darlings, I can only speak from my personal experience and when I think of that lunch, my belly starts to ramble immediately, because it was sooo delicious. :-) We’ve compensated the calories we’ve burnt during our exploration of the city in the restaurant “Kod Asima”, which is situated in the Travnik Gate I was telling you about above.

It’s a traditional Bosnian restaurant decorated with folklore elements, where we enjoyed a delicious portion of the famous “ćevapi” (which are not like the ones in Travnik, but also not like the ones in Sarajevo – they are made the super tasty local way ;-)) and “begova čorba” (Bey’s soup).

I’ll finish the first part of my travelogue with the story about the Pliva waterfall and that for a particular reason. You’re probably thinking right now, darlings: “Well that’s the most interesting location to visit! What else does she have to share? Who is going to read the second part now anyway?”. Well… I’m going to take my chances. ;-) At the same time, this is a little challenge for you, darlings. Although the waterfall truly is unique and fascinating in its beauty and the particularity of its central city location, Jajce just has so much more to offer and to show besides the waterfall! So for all you “curious cats” and “impatient darlings” I will start with the waterfall, but at the same time I invite you to follow me and explore what’s “behind the water” and let this city crawl into your hearts as it has into mine.  More about it in the following post.

And now to the waterfall. Have I learned things about it!:-)

First of all, Pliva waterfall represents the end of this river, since this is the location where the Pliva flows into the river Vrbas. That natural phenomena is clearly visible, especially when you observe the waterfall from above (the entrance to the city) and it looks absolutely fascinating. Then the two rivers have completely different colours and dynamics. Isn’t that WUNDERBAR? :-) The water is flowing into the 4 m deep pool and in front of the waterfall itself is an observation platform, which is going to give you – well let’s say – a full experience of what it means when hectoliters of water are falling with wild strength into the deep. :-)

What do I mean by that? ;-) Well… once on the platform, you’re going to get “wrapped up” into the water fog and you’ll certainly not miss being hit by at least a couple of drops of Pliva. :-) On the positive note, you will feel like a child again that was caught outdoors during a hot summer rain.

What I was particularly fascinated with, was the fact that the visual appearance of the waterfall hasn’t remained the same during the years. Then the whole city of Jajce, including the waterfall, is situated on tuff. Since this is a material, which is very porous and consumable with time, it kind of develops “a life of its own” – it’s being disintegrated in one place and created in another. So the waterfall is constantly in the process of moving- back in forth, left and right. Isn’t that interesting? :-) So when you see old photographs and postcards from Jajce and expect to see the waterfall displayed on them… well – it’s not going to happen. :-) Then you’re going to be welcomed by another one – however not less beautiful and magnificent. Nevertheless, in order to keep it’s stability, the waterfall is being continuously maintained (among others with a concrete “crown).

Curious to see it for yourself? :-)

And about the crowns, kings, sultans, marshals aaand… hobbits ;-) in the next post. Care to join?


Talk soon, darlings!

This post was prepared for the Top Hidden Treasures Campaign of Mastercard. To explore more undiscovered destinations all around Europe, check out the #TopHiddenTreasures hashtag on social media and visit the hompage of Mastercard.

Photography: Alma Hadzic Photography

My gratitude goes to the Public Institution “Agency for Cultural, Historical and Natural Heritage and Development of Tourist Potential of Town Jajce”  for the amazing hospitality, help and support in making this travelogue happen. My special thanks goes to the director of the Agency – Mr.  Huso Hadžić,  who is a true ambassador of his city and to the associate of the Agency Mr. Samed Žužić for his time and the “insider information” he provided me with. I would also like to thank hotel “Stari grad” for the cozy stay and for making us feel at home in Jajce.
If you wish to find out even more about Jajce, you can download the free bilingual tourist brochure from the homepage of the Agency Jajce.

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