The only intact Cistercian monastery of the country from medieval times hides on the outskirts of Bélapátfalva in the western gate to Bükk Mountains. The building is a cultural heritage featuring three distinct styles of architecture in a majestic natural environment.
Named after Saint Mary of the Assumption but better known as the Monastery of Bélháromkúti or Bélapátfalva was founded by Bishop of Eger Kilit II in 1232 near Háromkúti Spring. The construction of the towerless three-naved basilica and monastery was begun by Cistercian monks from Pilis in early Romanesque style. Unfortunately, construction works were interrupted by the Mongol Invasion and this delay left a mark on the architectural style as later works were influenced by early Gothic style. Records say that by 1246 the buildings had already been finished and inhabited by monks. In 1495, the management of the abbey passed to Archbishop of Eger Tamás Bakócz. The monastic community started to shrink and by 1596, when Eger was captured by the Turkish, both the monastery and the village were abandoned.
The decaying buildings were restored in the 1730s and 40s with the support of the bishop of Eger. Construction works added Baroque style elements to the building, such as the sacristy annex on the east side. Next time it was in the mid-20th century when renovation was needed. Restoration began in 1934 and after a hiatus due to WW2 it continued only in 1953. External works began in 1964, when the foundations of the former monastery were excavated. The finds included elements of an 800-year-old water pipe system, too.
The current exterior is the result of restoration in the 18th century. Medieval parts, unfortunately, had been demolished. The exterior includes Saint Emeritus Altar in Baroque style, the oldest church organ of the country and the Louis XVI style pulpit decorated with Biblical reliefs. The main decorative element of the western facade is a rose window.
The abbey is not only a medieval monument but a living religious site also. Besides major religious feasts it is a venue for biweekly holy masses and various cultural programs, such as organ concerts, guided tours by night, treasure hunts and torch marches.
The ticket office in a separate building near the church hosts an exhibition on the history of the monastery.References:
The Walled City of Jajce is a medieval fortified nucleus of Jajce in Bosnia and Herzegovina, with citadel high above town on top of pyramidal-shaped steep hill, enclosed with approximately 1,300 metres long defensive walls,. It is one of the best preserved fortified capitals of the Bosnian Kingdom, the last stronghold before the kingdom dissolved under the pressure of military advancement at the onset of Ottoman Empire takeover.
The entire complex of the Walled city of Jajce, with the citadel, city ramparts, watchtower Medvjed-kula, and two main city gate-towers lies on the southern slope of a large rocky pyramid at the confluence of the rivers Pliva and Vrbas, enclosed by these rivers from the south-southwest, with the bed of the Pliva, and east-southeast by the river Vrbas gorge.
The fortress was built by Hrvoje Vukčić Hrvatinić, the founder of Jajce. However, the city became the seat of the Bosnian kings, hence the royal coat of arms decoration on the citadel entrance. A part of the wall was built by the Hungarian King, while the Ottomans erected the powder magazine. The walls are high and the castle was built on a hill that is egg shaped, the rivers Pliva and Vrbas also protect the castle. There is no rampart on the south and west.
Jajce was first built in the 14th century and served as the capital of the independent Kingdom of Bosnia during its time. The town has gates as fortifications, as well as a castle with walls which lead to the various gates around the town. About 10–20 kilometres from Jajce lies the Komotin Castle and town area which is older but smaller than Jajce. It is believed the town of Jajce was previously Komotin but was moved after the Black Death.
The first reference to the name of Jajce in written sources is from the year 1396, but the fortress had already existed by then. Jajce was the residence of the last Bosnian king Stjepan Tomasevic; the Ottomans besieged the town and executed him, but held it only for six months, before the Hungarian King Matthias Corvinus seized it at the siege of Jajce and established the Banovina of Jajce.
Skenderbeg Mihajlović besieged Jajce in 1501, but without success because he was defeated by Ivaniš Korvin assisted by Zrinski, Frankopan, Karlović and Cubor.
During this period, Queen Catherine restored the Saint Mary"s Church in Jajce, today the oldest church in town. Eventually, in 1527, Jajce became the last Bosnian town to fall to Ottoman rule. The town then lost its strategic importance, as the border moved further north and west.
Jajce passed with the rest of Bosnia and Herzegovina under the administration of Austria-Hungary in 1878. The Franciscan monastery of Saint Luke was completed in 1885.
The Walled city of Jajce is located at the confluence of the Pliva and Vrbas rivers. It was founded and started developing in the Middle Ages and acquired its final form during the Ottoman period. There are several churches and mosques built in different times during different rules, making Jajce a rather diverse town in this aspect. It is declared National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and, as the old Jajce city core, including the waterfall, and other individual sites outside the walled city perimeter, such as the Jajce Mithraeum, it is designated as The natural and architectural ensemble of Jajce and proposed as such for inscription into the UNESCO"s World Heritage Site list. The bid for inscription is currently placed on the UNESCO Tentative list.