You might not know it yet, but Bosnia & Herzegovina used to be a strong kingdom with very rich history during the Middle Ages. What remains from those glorious times are numerous fortresses all over the country. Perhaps it is not that famous for its châteaux, but Bosnia & Herzegovina houses a few fascinating medieval castles worth exploring. The best-preserved one, and also one of the oldest in the country, is the Srebrenik Castle – the birthplace of the first Bosnian king. Standing proudly on the top of the hill with absolutely stunning panorama, this silent giant from 1333 witnesses the old times as a guardian of Bosnian king’s spirit. So, if you happen to be in the far north of the country, in the region of Tuzla City, it would be a pity to miss this historical spot.
The Srebrenik Castle is situated above the town of the same name, in the valley of a small river called Tinja, only 36 km from the city of Tuzla. Located on the lonely rock, this edifice, also known as Gradina Fortress, is perfectly blended with it, looking like grown out of it. The whole construction is in an excellent condition. It is composed of a complex with four towers and a castle, and with 1,5 meters thick walls. Its isolated position, where the only way to enter is the wooden bridge that connects the rock with the surrounding hills, made the Srebrenik Castle almost an unconquerable edifice. During the Middle Ages, this area was a battlefield for many fights between Bosnia and Hungary, and as from the 15th century, the Ottoman Empire as well.
When it comes to the origin of its name “Srebrenik” (which means “the silver” in the local language), one legend is particularly interesting. Even though the name suggests it, here you can’t find silver. Actually, the tale says that, at that time, three queens were building their own cities. The queen who built Srebrenik said that she aimed to make it shine like silver, and since then this determined its name. No certain documents are stating when this fortress was built, but it is sure that the Hungarians did it during their rule in Bosnia. The fortification got upgraded by the Ottomans by adding a mosque and some other parts.
Being the birthplace of the first Bosnian king called Tvrtko I Kotromanić, Gradina Castle in Srebrenik was for the first time in history mentioned in the Charter of Stjepan II Kotromanić in 1333. At that time, Stjepan II was the Ban of Bosnia (ruler) and Srebrenik was the capital of the medieval Bosnia, where he lived until his death in 1353. Many invaders tried to conquer this place. In 1464, the Hungarian King Matthias Corvinus occupied the region, followed by the Ottomans who came 50 years after. There is a legend saying that the Ottoman army was superior regarding the number of soldiers, but the Bosnians were wise and they outplayed them. While leaving the fort during the night, the defenders shoed their horses upside down, so that it looked like traces of the arriving reinforcement. When the Ottomans saw it, they didn’t dare to attack for a long period of time. Abandoned and forgotten for centuries, the Srebrenik Castle was re-discovered only 70 years ago.
When you arrive at this place, you will surely feel like marching into several centuries in the past. The quiet and giant Srebrenik Castle, the birthplace of the first Bosnian king, will teleport you in the ancient times just by exploring its vast corridors. If you listen carefully, you might even hear the sound of zurna, an old woodwind instrument, playing in the distance and calling back the spirit of the medieval times in Bosnia. And if this appeals to you, I would suggest you visit another amazing place only 25 km towards the north – the place called Gradačac, also known as the home of the Dragon of Bosnia.
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