History of the city of Bijeljina

Archaeological and other research to this day gives us a reliable picture of the continuous population of Semberija since prehistoric times, that is, the Late Stone Age, around 5,000 BC. Despite numerous migrations, wars, changes in various state and administrative systems in later historical periods (from the time of the Roman Empire to modern times), the area probably never completely stayed behind.

In the Middle Ages, the rulers of Serbia, Hungary and Bosnia fought for the fertile Semberija plain, and then the Turks conquered these areas and, after them, the Austro-Hungarians.

Bijeljina was first mentioned in 1446. From Zvornik, a medieval road passed through Bijeljina, leading to Macva, Mitrovica and Hok.


The oldest confirmed traces of human life in the area of today's City of Bijeljina date back to the Late Stone Age - Neolithic (5,000 - 3,000 BC). Also, material traces from the Bronze and Iron Ages were found. Most of the finds from these prehistoric periods were found in the areas of the villages of Ostojicevo, Batkovic, Glavicice, Dvorovi, Kojcinovac, Patkovaca and Trijesnica. The characteristics of pottery, tools and weapons unequivocally confirm the cultural ties of the inhabitants of Semberija with the Vinca Neolithic culture, that is, with the cultures of the Bronze Age - Vucedol, Kostolac and Baden.

Archaeological finds from the Iron Age are associated with the arrival of Celtic tribes, on the eve of the Roman conquests (8-1 century BC). In the ancient period (1-5th century AD) Semberija, like the whole of Posavina, was part of the Roman province of Pannonia. The most significant archeological discoveries from the Roman period were found at the sites of Prekaje in Brodac (Roman villa), Kojcinovac (tombstone), Velika Obarska (cult lead plate with a representation of the so-called Danube horsemen), Amajlije (bronze figurine 13 cm high), Modran hoard of Roman money, Parts (two stone sculptures of lions), and sites were discovered in Janja, Dvorovi, Batković, Patkovača. Somewhere in the area of Donji Podrinje (on one of the banks of the Drina) there was a Roman settlement Ad Drinum (On the Drina), but its exact place is still unknown.


The oldest Old Slavic site in Semberija is located on both sides of Bistrik, between the villages of Batkovic and Ostojicevo and consists of four smaller sites (Jazbine, Orascic, Gradine and Celopek) dating from the 7th to 12th centuries. In Jazbine and Oraščić, the remains of a settlement from the 7th-9th century, ie the 10th-12th century were found, with half-buried dugouts whose walls were built of shepper and compacted earth, and the most significant find is a complex of metallurgical workshops melted iron and produced iron tools, which is clearly evidenced by the finding of a goose-graphite pot that is kept in the Museum of Semberija in Bijeljina.

At this time, the settlement on Bistrik, probably called Bistrica, was without a doubt the center of the parish that covered the entire plain before Bijeljina was formed.


The first mention of the name Bijeljina is lost in the distant past. The "Chronicle of the priest of Dukljanin" mentions one victory of the Zahum prince Bela - Pavlimir against the Hungarians "in the plain of Belin". Today, it is considered in science that the first certain mention of the settlement of Bijeljina is the one from March 3, 1446, when a Dubrovnik merchant was robbed here by the people of Ilok Ban.

Bijeljina is one of the few cities that has changed its entire population twice in the last 500 years alone. The first time was with the arrival of the Turks in 1520, and the second time with the arrival of the Austrians in 1716. According to the census of the Zvornik Sandžak in 1533, only 4 villages are mentioned in the deserted Bijeljina region: Četvrtkovište, Mirkovci (Dašnica), Grm (Galac) and Čukojevići (Modran) with a total of 55 houses. The following census from 1548 listed 17 villages with 772 houses, of which 554 were Orthodox and 218 Muslim. From this time is the oldest building in the municipality of Bijeljina, and it is the spiritual center of the Serbs of this area - the Monastery of Tavna, a non-monastic endowment.


The people of Semberija sincerely supported Karadjordj's uprising and the magnificent awakening of the Serbian people, but the attempt at liberation was unsuccessful. The greatest contribution in the attempt to liberate the "Prekodrinski Serbs" was made by famous insurgent leaders - Jakov Nenadovic, priest Luka Lazarevic, Stojan Cupic and priest Nikola Smiljanic, and in 1809 Bijeljina and almost the whole of Semberija and Majevica were liberated for a short time.

These difficult times gave birth to two of the most famous greats of this region: Prince Ivan Knezevic, better known as Prince-Ivo of Semberija (1760-1840), who in the Serbian tradition became synonymous with nobility, and Filip Visnjic (1767-1834) - the most famous Serbian guslar. As symbols of Bijeljina and Semberija, they are represented on the large coat of arms of the City as guardians of the shield. In the First Serbian Uprising, Simo Katic (1783-1832) from Dvorovi also stood out, who was the commander of the defense of the border from Badovinci to the confluence of the Drina and the Sava, and later, during the reign of Prince Milos, assistant to the elder Macva. The famous hero was also Jovan Gligorijevic from Brodac, known by the nickname Zeko Buljubas - "Serbian Leonid", who, together with other "naked people", died heroically on Ravanj, in the last battle of Karadjordj's uprising.

Despite all the aggravating circumstances - losses in the uprisings and the plague in 1814, according to the 1864 census, Bijeljina was the largest city in the Sandzak with 6,074 inhabitants (according to the same census, there were 5,264 in Tuzla, 4,870 in Zvornik and 2,562 in Brcko). inhabitants). The two oldest buildings in Bijeljina date back to the time of the Turkish government: the Orthodox Church of St. George and the building of the Konak, ie the Turkish Municipality - today's Semberija Museum. Attempts to liberate Bijeljina in the great Bosnian-Herzegovinian uprising of 1875-1878. years failed. In the fall of 1875, Jovan Panić tried to return to his homeland from Serbia with 300 insurgents, but his detachment was defeated near the Tavna Monastery. In 1876, the Serbian general Ranko Alimpić unsuccessfully besieged Bijeljina, and then the Turkish forces in the battle on Galac defeated a detachment of Italian volunteers - Garibaldi.


Austro-Hungary ruled Bijeljina from 1878 to 1918. Due to the much higher level of development of the Danube Monarchy in relation to Turkey, Bosnia and Herzegovina in those three decades experienced accelerated economic progress, which led to a new wave of awakening of national consciousness.

The census of 1879 determined that there were 1,602 residential buildings and 6,090 inhabitants in Bijeljina. At that time, Bijeljina was a large settlement, the fifth largest in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The time of the Austro-Hungarian occupation was the time of the revival of Bijeljina, when it began to take on the outlines of a modern city. Recognizing the strategic importance of Bijeljina in the border position towards the Kingdom of Serbia, the authorities paid great attention to the development of the settlement and its adaptation to military needs. By the decree of the Provincial Government, Bijeljina already at the beginning of 1879, among the first municipalities in BiH, received the Municipal Statute.

The statute affects the care of the city development, regulation of existing streets, opening of markets, night street lighting, holding weekly and annual fairs, street cleaning and garbage collection to landfills outside the city, care for the health of residents and care for the urban poor. The municipal council soon made a decision to open a grain market in the city center, in front of the county seat, and it was there until after World War II. Workers who cleaned the streets were employed and garbage trucks were procured. In the same year, weekly fairs were made official on Tuesdays and Fridays, and St. Panteleimon's Day (Pantelino) and St. Demetrius' Day (Mitrovdan) were set for the annual fair days.

As early as 1880, the first kerosene lanterns were lit in the most important places in the city, and a specially appointed worker took care of their lighting and maintenance. The Austro-Hungarian authorities took over the Turkish garrison doctor Dr. Jakob Kohul, a Viennese medical graduate, whose efforts led to the opening of the first hospital in Bijeljina in 1880, and in the same year Bijeljina received its first pharmacy.


The First World War brought new suffering to the population of Semberija by the Austro-Hungarian authorities due to the constant suspicion of cooperation with the Serbs on the other side of the Drina. The horrors of those days, the heroism of the people of Semberija and their unwavering desire to live in freedom together with their compatriots are convincingly testified by the famous Austrian writer and journalist Egon Ervin Kiš, whose regiment was then located in Bijeljina.

The year 1918 marked a great turning point - after the breakthrough of the Thessaloniki front and the victorious campaign of the Serbian army, the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy disintegrated, and Semberija was illuminated for a long time by Freedom for the first time in modern times.

A town in the heart of Semberija. A city of good people, good hosts!