Travnik, the city of history, nature and peace
January 1, 1970
Going to Travnik from Sarajevo
It was the morning I’ve decided I needed to see and do something different than what I do every day.
There’s one Montenegrin song called “First-morning train” that could completely describe the feeling I had. The need for a change of a place was strong inside of me, so I decided I need to visit some place I’ve never been to before. There was a sudden urge to be active, to go somewhere near and be able to easily come back, and yet for a moment forget the present. I needed to forget who I was, all my worries, and everything that was and is a part of reality and everyday life.
The destination was chosen- Travnik.
Travnik is a city not so far away from Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It takes you about one hour of driving to get there. It’s approximately 70 km away.
Taking the bus to get there
Unfortunately, there is no train to get there. The train in Bosnia and Herzegovina goes only from Sarajevo to Doboj, and on its way stops in the following cities: Kakanj, Visoko, Zenica, Žepče, Zavidovići, and Maglaj. The last one is my hometown, so that train ride didn’t seem much attractive to my current mood that morning.
So, I took the bus.
You can actually take the bus from Sarajevo to Travnik almost every hour. The one I took was at 7:30 am. And you have the buses from Travnik to Sarajevo almost every hour as well. So you can easily come back. Sarajevo has two big bus stations, the one from the center of the city and the one from the Eastern Sarajevo. Chances are that, if you decide to go on this tour, you will probably get to the one in the center of the city.
Things to see in Travnik
The question is- why of all cities in the country I’ve actually decided to go to visit Travnik?
The fact that I’ve never been there, is not a strong enough reason to take me there. It’s not a strong enough reason to take anyone anywhere. There are plenty of places in the world I’ve never seen that seem way too boring for me to ever feel the need to visit them.
But there was something about that Travnik…
The first thing I felt when I got the city was the fresh air. So, that’s the first reason- clean air, the heaven for your lungs. Travnik is surrounded by mountains. Not in a way that you see the tops of the indifferent mountains in the distance, but they are so near the city, that you feel the sudden urge to climb them. You want to get to the top right away. And it feels like the easiest thing in the world.
Being there, I felt like I could reach the top of every mountain I’ve ever seen in my entire life.
Travnik is located at an altitude of more than 500 meters, and the mountains you can see there are called Vlašić and Vilenica. The first one, as someone has told me, is 1943 meters high and it is considered to be one of the highest mountains of Bosnia and Herzegovina. One more interesting fact is that it snows every year in Travnik.
Interesting historical background
During the history, in the Ottoman period, Travnik has been the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina for more than 150 years. The country was called Bosanski pašaluk (Bosnian pashalic) back then. I won’t go too much into the historical details, but the point is- this city is considered to be the “living museum” today in a way that is more than mesmerizing.
Maybe because of the mountains in the distance, maybe because of the centuries old houses and streets that seemed trapped in time, but still alive and breathing, or maybe because of those traditional Bosnian streets, not crowded by tourists like the Baščaršija in Sarajevo, that felt completely real and authentic, I felt the need to stay there. I felt the need to write in my testimony “When I die, lay my bones here. This is a place where every soul might find its peace.”
The birth house of the Nobel Prize winner- Ivo Andrić
There are several important things to see when visiting Travnik, but probably the most important one, the one you must see, is the birth house of Ivo Andrić.
For the ones who haven’t heard of him, he is the only literature Nobel Prize winner, who was from Bosnia and Herzegovina. He got his award for the book called “Na Drini ćuprija”/ “The Bridge on the Drina” in 1961. So, there is a house in this city, a museum, with his original cradle, all the furniture, dishes, and a lot of things this Nobel Prize winner and his family used, long before anyone might have guessed what his future was going to be like.
Blue Waters, national monument for both; history and nature lovers
In the part of the city called Šumeće (Effervescent), there is a wellspring called Plave vode (Blue waters), with incredibly blue water that continuously purls. I would recommend taking a break here, sitting by the water, and having a cup of real traditional Bosnian coffee here. For that was exactly what I’ve done. There are many different restaurants and coffee bars on that wellspring, but there is one, that was visited by Rudolf I, the German king, on the 18th June on 1887.
The fortress, the museum, and mausoleums
While I was observing the wild fishes, and the poor fishes in a pond, a child intentionally dropping his crocodile toy in the pond to eat them, I saw the fortress in the distance… I almost forgot to mention the fortress in the distance. It was build in 14th or the 15th, possibly by the medieval Bosnian king Tvrtko II Kontromanić or the king Stjepan Dabiša. And it still is preserved in a great condition.
That is one more thing to do there. After that coffee, go there. If you are too tired to climb those mountains, go ahead, and climb all the way to that fortress. It actually is not that far away and could be something to remember your whole life.
And on your way through the city, you might see a lot of things I also feel the need to mention- like a museum from Yugoslavian period with a centennial locomotive in front of it, lots of interesting different mosques with oriental look, a park with strange shaped modern statues inside, and several mausoleums, for some people from the Bosnian aristocracy from the Ottoman period, by which there is a place where people place coin and make a wish, hoping it would come truth.
In case you get hungry
And if you get hungry, ask a local. They will tell you where to have a best traditional meal, considering your preferences. Maybe on the Blue Waters, maybe somewhere else in the city. Whatever you decide, it cannot be a mistake.