Old Town Ključ: Place where Bosnia was handed over to the Ottomans

kljucThe Old Town Ključ, in historical documents better known as Ključ on Sana, is the pearl of the medieval Bosnian heritage and architecture and represents a priceless cultural richness of great historical value.

In addition to numerous specificities, this building is also known for one important event. Within its walls, on 25th of May the last Bosnian king Stjepan Tomašević handed over Bosnia to the powerful Ottoman Empire.

Old Town Ključ is situated on high and steep cliffs along the left bank of the Sana River. All facilities in the town were walled from the north, while they are naturally well-protected from the south, with a deep chasm. These facilities represent the oldest city core, blended with the unique system of walls.

The town played an important role in history and politics of the medieval Bosnian state and its masters were the powerful nobility from the Sana valley, Hrvatinići, who belonged to the Bosnian church.

However, the reason why this town remains permanently inscribed in the books of history is the fact that it was the last refuge of the last Bosnian king Stjepan Tomašević and the place where the medieval Bosnian state, facing the invasion by a much stronger and superior opponent, was handed over to the Ottomans, for multicentennial administration.

Precisely this “last episode” of the Bosnian kingdom is the reason why Ključ is still called the royal town.

“Fleeing from Jajce, Stjepan Tomašević came to the medieval town Ključ on Sana, believing it is a very well-fortified town and that he will not be forced to surrender to the Ottoman army. It is even mentioned that his half brother and half sister, Katarina and Sigismund, also stayed with him in Ključ. Stjepan surrendered to the great vizier Mahmut pasha, who was sent to Ključ by the sultan Medmed El-Fatih to lead a military operation for the conquest of the town. The vizier previously promised to the king Stjepan that he will spare his life if he hands Bosnia over,” said a history professor, Fuad Alibegović, born in Ključ and author of the book “Ključ na Sani”.

After king Stjepan did it, on 25th of May 1463, Mahmut pasha captivated Stjepan and took him to Jajce to the sultan Mehmed el-Fatih, who forced him to sign an order for all commanders to surrender the cities to the Ottomans. At the same time, with the assistance of the head Mufti of the empire who convinced him that he does not have to respect promises given by his inferiors, sultan Mehmed El-Fatih declared the oath by Mahmut pasha invalid and executed the king in his headquarters in Jajce on June 5, together with king’s uncle Radivoje and many Bosnian noblemen.

“In addition to the fact that the last Bosnian king surrendered in Ključ, also interesting is that a very strong resistance was offered to the Austro-Hungarians here, when they invaded these areas in 1878. As much as 314 soldiers of the Austro-Hungarian army were killed and wounded. Many domestic folks were killed as well, but there are no detail data on that. Thus, Ključ is known as one of the places where significant events in the history occurred,” Prof. Alibegović said.

Medieval town Ključ na Sani brings specificities and is a symbol of recognition after numerous historical events which occurred within its walls. If not for anything else, its historical “weight” gives this town the right to be high on the list of potential future visits and tourist destinations.


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