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Reflecting growing diversity

Categories: Cultural Diversity

KOZARA NATIONAL PARK

KOZARA NATIONAL PARK

The Mountain Kozara with the National Park located near Prijedor in the northeast of Bosnia and Herzegovina lies between the Pannonian Plain the Dinarics, surrounded by the four rivers: Sava, Una, Vrbas and Sana covers an area of almost 4000 hectars, the national park centrally positioned on the flat plateau of Mrakovica (806 meters above sea level). As all across the Balkans, this area too abounds with cultural monuments from different historic times worth visiting and exploring.

The Kozara Museum with its building belonging to Austro-Hungarian architectural heritage in the city centre keeps the exhibits and photos from the ancient Roman times, Late Middle ages during Ottoman rule, the period between the two World Wars 1918-1940, people’s liberation wars 1941-1944 and post war times.  Several thematic exhibitions are organised annually, although the topics of artistic exploration are related with the industrial history and mining in this area and certainly the exhibitions of outstanding local painters, sculptors and of traditional local artisans' pieces of work, women in particular with their embroiders made in a traditional pattern.

Mining was one of the most important branches of the economy in the period of Roman rule, in the area of ​​today's Bosnia and Herzegovina. Iron ore was exploited in northwestern Bosnia, especially in the 3rd century, during the dynasty of the North and their successors, although the first evidence of their activity dates back to the 1st century. This is evidenced by epigraphic monuments, which are mostly spread in the valleys of the river Sana, and were found in the remains of ancient mining and metallurgical workshops and plants.

Church of Virgin Mary – Mehmed’s Church

Halfway between Prijedor and Kozara National Park in the small town of Kozarac, there is a small  Catholic church hidden in the forest with a seemingly strange name. There are not many written documents about how this church was built and why it was built here. But the legend exists and the story remains in memory of the local people.  Namely, after Prijedor was burned almost completely in a large fire in 1882., Karl Schmuzer an Austrian industrialist opened his sawmill in Prijedor. He had two sons and a daughter Marija. The story starts with his daughter who fell in love with a local worker in her father’s wood factory - Mehmed Kulašić,  a fine hard-working young man from a poor family , but  with a beautiful voice. He was singing Bosnian sevdah songs, playing accordion and entertaining his fellow workers. Marija and Mehmed fell in love, but had to keep it secret. They were hiding in nearby woods always searching for remote places along the nearby river. They had to keep their love secret because they were of different faiths, different backgrounds, but as the story says, also because Marija became pregnant. The baby was found dead, wrapped in an Austrian newspaper.  Considering that he had suffered great shame and lost his reputation, the owner of the sawmill sent his daughter back to Austria. Mehmed grew old poor in Kozarac... The church was built by Maria’s father. He just couldn't come to terms with her sin. But the church is still called Mehmed’s Church today and stands as a testimony to one special love…

Memorial House of Mladen Stojanovic, located in Prijedor city centre, where this well-known family used to live. Mladen Stojanovic (1896-1942), the local physician, poet and a sportsman from Prijedor, whose family was a well off, advanced and widely recognized in the local community. The house of the Stojanović family is a part of culture of remembrance and a symbol of respect for the trace they left in history of this city and the area of Kozara. Sima Mladenovic, an Orthodox priest and his wife had four sons and (Mladen, Sreten, Velimir and Dragutin) and five daughters (Georgina, Persida, Jelisaveta, Draginja and Milica). Mladen became a doctor after studying in Vienna, and his brother Sreten was a famous sculptor and painter after graduation from the Faculty of Arts in Belgrade.

The memorial house of the Stojanović family consists of an exhibition space with two permanent exhibitions - the historical one that speaks in pictures and words about a city, honorable, honest, advanced priestly family and its descendants, primarily Dr. Mladen, a national hero and legend of this region. The second exhibition with a selection from the legacy of one of the descendants of that family, Sreten, a great artist, academician. This Memorial House represents an impressive family narrative deeply integrated in the cultural heritage of the city.

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