Fortress Vranduk – Zenica

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The fort Vranduk is located approximately 14 kilometers downstream from the town of Zenica. It was built on a rock above the gorge beneath which the river Bosnia, with its round-arched stream, builds a natural decoration and protection. In the Middle Ages Vranduk was one of several royal cities, where the seat of the Bosnian King Stjepan Ostoja was, and some time later also of the last Bosnian king Stjepan Tomaš, as well as his opponent Radivoje. The first mention of Vranduk dates from the 11th of March 1410, in the appeal of Dubrovnik citizens sent to the Hungarian King Sigismund about the behavior of his soldiers.

In the period of Ottoman Turkish rule the fortress hid dark memories while it served as a political prison, where many of the persecuted died mostly qadi and mufti. In 1697 during the disastrous campaign of Eugene of Savoy, when almost the whole of Bosnia was left in ashes and smoke, the Vranduk fort was the only unconquered fortification.

The town and fortress Vranduk for centuries resisted all sorts of enemies, disasters, whether human or natural, but it almost always skillfully persisted living up to it s name as the ‘Gate of Bosnia’. And the name in itself – Vranduk, which is assumed to be derived from the word branduk (to defend), speaks about the role that it played in the history of Bosnia.

The town Vranduk – the medieval fortress with a mosque was declared a national monument.

The Old Town Vranduk was probably built in the late 14th century on a strategically very important road. Since its founding until 1463, Vranduk is a ban, and then a royal town. It was the only fortified town in the parish Brod, one of the seven parishes of medieval Bosnia. The name Vranduk was first mentioned in 1410. In it, the Bosnian kings received the delegation, signed contracts and issued charters. Brother of King Tomaš, Radivoj, is mentioned in documents as the ‘Prince of Vranduk’. A larger commercial and trade settlement situated outside of the walls was built in the village Varošišć, about 2.5 km away from the fortification in Vranduk. Here the Franciscans founded a monastery and in the mid-15th century built the church of St. Mary.

Vranduk fully developed in the XV century. In the surrounding area of Vranduk a system of defense facilities developed and within those walls, a small village ‘sotto Vranduch’. King Tomaš gave special attention to Vranduk: he built the Church of St. Thomas, his protector, below the town, for which he received special privileges from the Pope, he fixed up the town and strengthened its walls.

The Ottoman Empire repeatedly besieged Vranduk. They occupied it in 1463. In his campaign against Bosnia in 1697, Eugene of Savoy, noting the difficulty of the conquest, bypassed Vranduk. At the beginning of the 18 century the Vranduk captaincy was founded. In the 18th and early 19th century it served as a prison for political culprits. Austrian troops in 1878 occupied the fort and kept their garrison there until 1890 when it was abandoned.

The Old Town in Vranduk belongs to a type of hill fort. The fortress, despite further restorations, preserved its original form, reminiscent of earlier European fortresses. In the Middle Ages, the main tower was higher and the space of the paddock was divided by a wall. The small tower and the east wall were added later in order to protect the entrance to the fort. Within the paddock were several different facilities serving different purposes, and also some remains of ‘Dizdar kuća’ were found.

Numerous archaeological findings were discovered within the walls of the Old Town from the Middle Ages and the Ottoman period: pots, jewelry, coins, tools, spurs, etc. All the findings are stored in the Museum of the town of Zenica.

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