On our journey between Sarajevo and Mostar, we stayed for one night at the Stari Grad Hotel in Jajce. However, we arrived in sufficient time to have a tour of the town, located in central Bosnia and Herzegovina
First stop was the Pliva Waterfall which falls 22m into the Vrbas River. Apparently, locals claim it’s the 12th most beautiful waterfall in the world, but it’s not clear who this is according to. However, they were impressive, even though the weather wasn’t great and low clouds clung to the mountains.
The Museum of the 2nd AVNOJ session provided a history lesson and we learned that AVNOJ stands for Antifascist Council of the National Liberation of Yugoslavia. The museum is in the building where a meeting held in November 1943, resulted in some of the most important decisions for the construction of Yugoslavia. This included declaring the country a federal republic in which all nations were considered equal. It was attended by Tito and other dignitaries. The large hall, set out for a meeting, had a stage decked out with red white and blue flags, a statue of Tito and his original chair. Around the room were flags of Russia, the US and UK and information boards in Bosnian and English on the six states that would make up Yugoslavia (Montenegro, Macedonia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Slovenia).
Downstairs were two rooms: the first, a long gallery with photos and posters depicting patriotic efforts and the second, had paintings including one by Andy Warhol. A gallery overlooked the hall with a map on the floor of the former Yugoslavia and other information boards (mainly in Bosnian) and one on the history of the building. Outside was a steam locomotive, named Little Partisan, because of the role it played during WW2 transporting Croatian and Slovenian delegates to the meeting.
A short walk from our hotel took us past the old steeple of St Luke’s church and onto the catacombs beneath. Built in the 15th century this is where high priests and nobility were buried (4 Marks/£1.84 entrance fee). We walked down steep steps and watched our head. It wasn’t too claustrophobic, but the floor and steps were uneven. It was very cool inside, and as we got halfway back up the stairs, we felt the warm air hitting us. We also saw Bear Fortress, a tall round tower with 8-foot thick walls, which is where prisoners were put in along with bears.
Finally, we had the option of walking the zigzag steps up to the fortress or visiting Hram boga – the Mithraeum Temple, built in the 4th century. By this stage, it was late afternoon and drizzling, so we chose the easy option of the Temple. This was a carving in a huge rock of the God Mithras on the back of a bullock pushing his sword into the heart. There was meant to be a scorpion, snake and dog in the carving, but we couldn’t find the latter. Along each side were carvings of female figures which were still intact. It was housed in a glass building (2 Mark entrance fee) and down a few steps. The helpful curator put on spotlights to illuminate the carving, and our guide translated.
There’s little else in the town to warrant a longer stay, but we enjoyed getting out and stretching our legs after a relatively long car journey.