Situated on the southeast slopes of the Majevica Mountain, the city of Tuzla occupies the central area of northeast Bosnia.
The town is 239m above sea level, and it stretches across an area of approximately 15km2. The city's population is approximately 100,000 but the greater municipal area has over 170,000 inhabitants. Tuzla is the economic, scientific, cultural, educational, health and tourist centre of northeast Bosnia.
The settlement of Tuzla has always been closely tied to its salt resources. The oldest written records, left behind by the Greek, prove that even they were aware of the region's salt. Tuzla received its name much later. The present-day name is derived from the Turkish word Tuz, meaning salt. The first Ottoman document recording the exploitation of Tuzla's saltwater springs dates from 1548.
With the arrival of the Ottomans in 1460, production increased fivefold and the settlement greatly gained in importance. Due to vast reforms in the 17th-century Ottoman administration, a freer development of the town economy occurred. With the introduction of modern crafts, Tuzla developed into the administrative centre of the Zvornik sandzak and became an important communications, military, trade and cultural centre in northeast Bosnia.
Towards the end of Ottoman rule Tuzla had approximately 5,000 inhabitants, making it one of the largest towns in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Many buildings from Ottoman times remain in Tuzla. Turalibeg's Mosque, with a typical stone minaret, was built in the 16th century and still stands today. The Austro-Hungarians introduced more modern methods for salt and coal exploitation, and Tuzla became an integral part of the empire's economy. The city continued to play an important economic role in Yugoslavia.
TO DO & SEE
In recent years much effort has been put into a planned revitalization of the area. What remains of the old town is still charming and while strolling through the centre you forget the industrial zone on the far side of the city.
Tuzla is a university and educational centre, so there are always plenty of café's and clubs to visit for younger travellers. The National Theatre (Pozorisna st. 4) was built in 1898 during Austro-Hungarian rule and is the oldest in the country. Local productions are held regularly and although it's a rarity to have plays or concerts in English, they do have some excellent shows.
The Portrait Gallery (Ratka Vokica st.) has continuous exhibitions of work by local and international artists. Ismet Mujezinovic's Gallery (Klosterska st. 17) is mainly dedicated to Mr Mujezinovic himself. He was a painter from Tuzla, famous enough to have a gallery established in his name and a monument erected in his honour. The Eastern Bosnia Museum (Dindic mahala st. on number 21, tel: 387 35 318 320.) exhibits archaeological, ethnological, historical and artistic pieces and artifacts from the whole region. The Museum is open Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Apart from Tuzla's many beautiful mosques, there is also the Orthodox Church that went untouched throughout the war. The Franciscan monastery in town is still very active and the Catholic community in Tuzla is rather large.
Just out of town in the village of Breska is a 200-year-old Catholic church. Being so far from the sea and not having a Neretva or Una River nearby, the administrations of the northeast have embarked on a mission to create large artificial lakes.
Panonika Lake, created near the saltwater wells in the centre of town, was visited by 100,000 people in less than two months when it first opened. A fifth of the lake is saltwater which acts as a natural cleanser. The complex has recently been enriched with another artificial lake.
Panonian lake, Only salt lake in Europe
For more information see: www.panonika.ba. Entry fee is approximately 1,5 KM.
The town has several other attractive picnic locations: Ilincica is the closest to town; Lake Modrac, a massive lake lined with beaches, restaurants and bed and breakfasts, attracts the biggest crowds;
Konjuh Mountain is the best area if you're looking to do some hiking