If you are a history buff and in a quest for a new region to uncover, you are on the right page to learn what’s the next up-and-coming destination in the Balkans, which emerges on the bucket lists of well-informed travellers. An irresistibly charming meridional place called Trebinje is unarguably the most beautiful city in Bosnia & Herzegovina. Besides its beauty, Trebinje is a synonym for an invaluable historical heritage in the southern part of the country. Situated in the triangle of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites – Dubrovnik, Kotor and Mostar, ever since this place has been on the crossroad of civilisations through different époques. Starting with its well-preserved Old Town and the 16th-century bridge, this treasure boosts in plentiful historical fortifications spread around the city, as well as monasteries from the time of Early Christianity and other mediaeval shrines. For a small city, Trebinje has more than a fair share of ancient remnants worth discovering. So, for all of you impatient to learn more, here is Trebinje for history lovers.
Perhaps the best way to start this saga is to explain the origin of the name of this lovely city. The first version of this name – Travunia, dates back to the 10th century when it was mentioned by Constantine Porphyrogenitus. The oldest preserved proofs of its name are the inscriptions of the tombstone of Grd, the ruler and the most distinguished knight of the 12th century, found in the medieval necropolis Police nearby Trebinje. It is said that the present name dates back to the 16th century. However, there are many legends around the name’s origin. One of the most intriguing legends has it that it originates in Napoleon’s words “très bien”, who was pleased with Trebinje that he crossed once with his soldiers.
To give you an insight into Trebinje’s long existence, let’s look at its brief and time-lapsed history. In its early beginnings, Travunia was a Byzantine territory on the caravan route between Dubrovnik and Constantinople. Consequently, during the Middle Age, the region of Trebinje was under the Byzantine influence, and for more than 200 years it belonged to the medieval Serbian Kingdom, under the rule of Nemanjić dynasty. In the 15th century, the city and the whole of Bosnia & Herzegovina fell under the Ottoman’s occupation, that lasted until the arrival of the Austro-Hungarians in the late 19thcentury. Today, we can find many remnants from those époques, which all influenced Trebinje in one way or another.
A well-preserved Old Town Kastel, situated on the right bank of the Trebišnjica River, is the most visited attraction of the city. Kastel evolved from a former trade and crafts centre, but this complex is still inhabited and very lively. The main landmark of the Old Town is its famous Arslanagića Bridge. This 16th-century masterpiece has a significant place in the Balkan’s architecture of that time. Arslanagića Bridge was built in 1574 by a Turkish Grand Vizier Mehmed Paša Sokolović, asan endowment to his son, who was killed during the battle with the Venetians.
When it comes to true hidden gems of history, the first thing that pops up is Branković Tower, one of the best-preserved medieval watchtowers in Bosnia & Herzegovina. Built at the beginning of the 14th century, this tower had an important role in the protection of the settlement back then. Speaking of protection, this area also boosts in medieval and Austro-Hungarian fortifications, built on the hills that surround the city: the Old Town Mičevac from the 11th century, one of the biggest historical fortifications in the Balkans – Strač (1910-1916) and the oldest of all strongholds in Bosnia & Herzegovina - Old Town Klobuk, that dates back to the 9th century.
Trebinje for history lovers wouldn’t be complete without a tour of pilgrimage sites in the Holy Land of Herzegovina. Whether a believer or not, you will be impressed by the Orthodox monasteries in the city of Trebinje, but also other Orthodox shrines in the hinterlands. They are silent witnesses of the long-lasting Christian tradition and culture in this region throughout the millennia.
Pictures © Credits to Tourism organisation of Trebinje
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