Fortress Kastel – Banja Luka

tvrdjava kastel banja lukaa

In the heart of the city of Banja Luka stands Kastel, as a witness of the past, the skeleton of the present and the prediction of the future. Located in the very center of Banja Luka, the fortress has a rich history. The old walls of Kastel are there here to awaken our curiosity about the history of this city, a story of battles, trade, successes and failures, of which the witness and the culprit was the fortress itself.

The total area of the complex Kastel is 48.000 square meters, of which 26 610 square meters within the walls, and around 21,390 square meters outside of them. The ramparts are made out of nine bastions and two towers within the walls. There are several buildings on the inside, including the central camp with two towers and a small arsenal, the central armory, the so called stone building, and several different walls that divided and formed individual internal spaces.

Many material findings, written sources and cartographic documentation now allow us to greatly learn of all the phases of the creation and development of the fortress. The early beginnings of the development of settlement on the site of Kastel originate from the Paleolithic era as indicated by findings of stone tools and weapons. The location of this settlement, which was still developing through the era of the Neolithic and Bronze Age, is characteristic of the Baden culture as it is situated on the raised parts of the Vrbas river terrace.

Several examples of late antique bronzes, ceramics, and a late antique bronze fibula were found inside the fort. In addition, in the central part of the fortress are remains of the ancient fortified buildings of larger dimension, with a semicircular apse projection on the south side. Systematic research that lies ahead will determine whether it was an ancient Roman sanctuary, an administrative building or complex of different content.

In a charter from 1525 it is precisely stated that Banja Luka is actually a name of a fort named ‘Castell Nostro Bagna Luca’. From the content of the charter, one might even conclude that the Banja Luka fortress was built on the site of an older and smaller fortification after 1463, as part of the border on Vrbas in the defense system of the Kingdom of Hungary against Turkey (Jajce was the southernmost point).

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