In central Bihać, a closely clumped church tower, turbe and 16th-century stone tower look very photogenic viewed through the trees across gushing rapids. And sitting at one of the riverside cafe-restaurant-cafes is delightful on a summer morning. But that’s about all there is to detain you here apart from nearby Fethija Mosque, converted from a rose-windowed medieval church in 1595. Bihać could make a staging post for reaching Croatia’s marvellous Plitvice Lakes, just 30km away. Otherwise visit the Una National Park information office then head down the lovely Una Valley with its gorgeous tree-shaded rapids, mossy waterfalls and world-class rafting.
This ‘victory’ mosque is arguably the most interesting historical building in central Bihać, though not its most beautiful. Originally a 13th-century Gothic church, it was converted into a mosque after 1592 when the city fell to the Ottoman Turks after years of resistance. It retains the church’s original rose window and stone entry portal and grafts on a minaret. However, its location is depressingly bland, between the low-rise Una Cinema and the pitiful little vegetable market.
St Anthon’s Church Tower
Dating from 1894, albeit on the site of a far older medieval structure, the tower’s distinctive look comes from 1941 when a double storey was added from the remnants of a demolished Orthodox church. The attached Catholic church was briefly one of Bosnia’s biggest but only for three years – that was hit by WWII allied bombing during 1944 and destroyed.
When Bihać was little more than a lonely fortress, this square-plan shingle-roofed castle tower is said to have offered refuge to the Hungarian King Bela IV who was so grateful he gave Bihać a free-city charter in 1260. Since then it has been used as a prison and museum but nowadays the black metal door is usually locked.