Kraljeva Sutjeska

kraljeva sutjeska visitmycountry

The small medieval town Kraljeva Sutjeska is located in the valley of the river Trstionica. A paved road leads from Kakanj and the highway Sarajevo-Zenica towards southeast to Kraljeva Sutjeska. At the very end of the town, at the foot of Teševo hill, there is a Franciscan monastery with a church. The monastery has been a spiritual and cultural center of that area for almost six and a half centuries. The original monastery was probably built in the first half of the 14th century.

It was mentioned for the first time in the chronicle of the Franciscan chronicler Bartol Pizanski in 1385/90. The monastery was probably destroyed in 1463, at the same time when the Ottomans razed to the ground the royal castle in Sutjeska. However, the monastery is mentioned in a Turkish census already in 1469, which means that it was rebuilt soon.

During the banishment in the period 1521 – 1524, the monastery was destroyed. A significant period of time passed before the Franciscans managed to obtain a permit for the construction of a new one. Since the Ottomans did not allow the use of more durable material (stone, bricks), the newly built monastery perished sooner, and it was also more exposed to the risk of fire. The permit for repairs was difficult to obtain, and if a repair was completed without the approval, the Franciscans risked fines and detention. New buildings would thus be smeared with reek in order not to be noticed.

In 1658, the monastery with all valuables (archive, library) burnt down. A new one was built in 1664. During the Habsburg-Ottoman War, at the end of the 17th century, the Franciscans had to leave it due to high taxes and live at village cottages. After the political situation improved, they returned in 1704. The monastery was rebuilt in 1821, and another wing was added in 1833. It remained in this state until 1889, when it was completely demolished, except for the mentioned wing, in order for a new one to be built. The construction of the new monastery started on April 19, and the official blessing of the foundations was given on May 13, 1890. The contractor was the construction entrepreneur Ivan Holz. The monastery was blessed on July 20, 1892, although the works on it lasted until 1897. The new monastery was provided with water supply in 1914, and electricity in 1920. The electricity came from its own water power plant on Trstionica river, which was confiscated by the government after the Second World War. The monastery building was thoroughly renovated in the period 1982 – 1988.

kraljeva sutjeska unutrasnost

Until the beginning of the 20th century, Franciscan candidates were able to attend philosophy and religious studies. It was also the location of the novitiate later on, which was there until 1973.

The church in Sutjeska underwent a similar process as the monastery. The original church was probably built at the same time as the monastery, in the first half of the 14th century. It was torn down during the banishment in the period 1521 – 1524. It was soon renovated, since it is mentioned in a document already in 1530. It was renovated in 1596. In the 18th century, it was renovated twice, in 1728 and in the period 1784 – 1985. However, due to its deterioration, it was demolished in 1821 and rebuilt, and a new church was built in the same location in 1858.

kraljeva sutjeska oltar

The main altar and five side altars, made in the early Baroque style, were purchased in the 17th and 18th century. They are no longer there, but they existed until the destruction of the church in 1905. In the mid 19th century, the church choir was painted by Fra Stjepan Nedić (†1860), who thus became one of the few Franciscan painters. In 1865, an organ (4 ranks) was purchased for the church from the company Orszag Sandor Ifju in Budapest. It is no longer being used. The current organ with 13 ranks was made by the company M. Heferer from Zagreb in 1909.

kraljeva sutjeska molitva

The current church, which belongs to the basilica type in Neo-Renaissance style, was built in the period 1906-1908 based on the design of the architect Josip Vancaš. Together with its two tall bell towers, it belongs to beautiful architectural achievements. Marco Antonini painted the inside in 1908. Since the church is devoted to St. John the Baptist, the central painting of Antonini, Jordan River Baptism, was put in the semi domes of the apse. The church crypt contains a stone sarcophagus from the 15th century, which until recently had been believed to contain the mortal remains of the penultimate Bosnian king.

A Bronze statue of the Bosnian Queen Catharine (†1478), made by the sculptor Josip Marinović from Zagreb, was put up at the church in 1988. In front of the church, there is a bust of Queen Catharine, made by the sculptor Ana Kovač, and the supporting wall at the cloister of the monastery contains a mosaic depicting the life of St. Francis, made by the painter Vladimir Blažanović. Svjetlana Bajanović is the author of the painting depicting St. Nikola Tavelić (mosaic).

kraljeva sutjeska kraljica

The monastery in Sutjeska is very rich in terms of cultural, historical and artistic elements: numerous archive documents, valuable old books, a collection of paintings, metal and textile items made by artisans.

The oldest and probably the most valuable painting is the Gift of Kings – Christ Falling under the Cross, painted on both sides of canvassed board. It stems from the north and dates back to the 15th century. It is the only preserved part of the old folding Gothic altar. The collection also contains two other paintings of the local painter Stjepan Dragojlović who is from the surroundings of Kraljeva Sutjeska. He lived in the transition period from the 16th to the 17th century, and he learned to paint in Venice. His first painting Crucifixion (160x82 cm) stems from the year 1597, and the second – Immaculate Conception (154x163 cm) from the year 1621. Both paintings also include a self-portrait of the author. Local painters Franjo Janjić and Fra Pavao Tokmačić are mentioned as early as in the 18th century. They painted the chapel in Borovica near Sutjeska in 1784. The collection in Sutjeska also includes several paintings from Venice dating back to the 17th century: the Baptism of Christ, the triptych: the Annunciation – Birth – Entry into Jerusalem, and a valuable Baroque painting: Jesus' Head with the Crown of Thorns (17th century), which had been unknown until 1988. There is also a valuable painting of St. Catherine, of Italian origin (17th century), and Madonna with the Christ and Saint Anthony by Francesco Guardia (18th century). There are considerably fewer sculptures, however, we should mention the Assumption of Mary, purchased in Italy in 1839.

kraljeva sutjeska vani

The monasterial treasury is full of metal and textile items for practical application. It contains about thirty artistic and valuable chalices. The oldest ones belong to the late Gothic period, one of them dating back to the year 1416. The treasury also includes several Baroque and Classicist mostrances (18th century), a silver cross (14th-15th), two Baroque procession crosses (17th century), as well as a Baroque cross for the way of cross services (17th century). Particularly valuable items also include a Bronze kettle, early Tuscan Renaissance (15th century) and a Near East bell (17th century). The monastery also has a modern chalice made by J. Plečnik.

kraljeva sutjeska muzej

As regards textile items, the most valuable item is a chasuble from the 15th century of German origin. The back of the chasuble consists of a broidery depicting the Crucifixation, with a depiction of Mary and John below. The work contains all characteristics of Central European Gothic. There are also several chasubles of Italian origin from the 16th and 17th century, as well as a mantle and altar frontal (16th century) with Renaissance stylistic characteristics. Two chasubles from the 18th century originate from France. Mass clothes were made also from Oriental fabric of Turkish or Persian origin, such as for example a robe from Sutjeska.

Strossmayer stated the following on this in a letter from 1873: "Such old items are thus saved for the people and for Bosnia itself, because I pledge to return all the items to Bosnia when Bosnia, may God will, becomes independent, and oblige also the Academy of Science and our government to return them.'' These items have not been returned.

The monastery archive is rich in terms of literature on church and cultural history. Birth registers have been kept at the archive since 1641 (which makes them the oldest ones in Bosnia and Herzegovina), as well as numerous scripts and chronicles. There is a great number of written documents from the period 15th – 19th century (around 3.500 documents) important for the research of our national history. An example is the deed of donation of the King Matijaš Korvin from 1481, which is related to Bosnia and Dalmatia.

kraljeva sutjeska knjiznica

The number of old books of the monastery makes it one of the most valuable and most interesting ones in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The museum of the library, containing rare editions, has 4.770 volumes, whereas the total number of books exceeds 11 000. Its particular value consists in 31 incunabulas, which is more than half of all incunabulas in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The monastery possesses 453 books from the 16th century, 541 books from the 17th century, 1.687 books from the 18th century, and 1.050 books from the first half of the 19th century. Particular importance is given by the library to the works of older Croatian writers from Bosnia, some of which are written in Bosnian cyrillic (Divković, Margitić, I. T. Mrnavić). The library has approximately hundred works written by 37 old Croatian writers from Bosnia who wrote in Latin alphabet. There are also works by foreign writers, such as Kačić, Katančić, Levaković, etc. The library also contains numerous periodic publications since the first half of the 19th century (Illyrian national newspaper, National Newspaper, Serbian Newspaper, etc.).

Near the monastery there are the foundations of the old royal castle from the period before the Ottoman conquest of Bosnia. Next to the castle, there are remains of a church (castle chapel), which was probably built in Gothic style. Near Sutjeska, there is Bobovac, the medieval city that was also the seat of Bosnian emperors.

The Franciscans converted the Catholics from Sutjeska from the very arrival to that area at the end of 14th century. Since then, they have been taking care of the chaplain programs, also after the conquest of Bosnia by the Ottomans. At the beginning of the 17th century, the Franciscans from Sutjeska converted a large area including the parishes of Vareš, Kuzmadanj, Seočan¬ica, Derventa, Dubočac, Vinska, Vasiljevo Polje and Radunjevac – up to Central Bosnia and Sava river, between Ukrina and Bosna rivers.

kraljeva sutjeska tetovaze

The parish consists of the following settlements: Sutjeska, Aljinići, Babići, Bijelo Polje, Bištrani, Bjelavići, Bulčići, Čatići, Dobrinje, Dujmovići, Gora, Govedovići, Grmače, Klanac, Kopjari, Kovači, Kučukovići, Lučići, Lukovo Brdo, Miljačići, Papratno, Pavlovići, Pezeri, Poljani, Poljice, Ratanj, Seoce, Slapnica, Šćitari, Šošnje, Teševo, Trnovci, Turbići and Zajezda.

The parish of Sutjeska, which is quite big, includes local churches in Čatići, Poljani, Pavlovići, Bjelavići, Dobrinje and Grmače, as well as 19 chapels.

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