Tuzla is the economic, scientific, cultural, educational, health and tourist centre of northeast Bosnia. 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. 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. Today, you’ll find a modern university city with elements and architectural styles from Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian and Yugoslavian influences.
Bosnia has lots of charismatic old towns with a combination of Ottoman and Austrian styles. Tuzla is no different. As you walk through the stone streets, soak up and enjoy the atmosphere and have a coffee in one of the little cafés. Korso is the main pedestrianised street lined with colourful Austro-Hungarian buildings that join to the old town. Locals, students, and a few tourists often come here to shop or relax in one of the outdoor cafés.
Tuzla’s National Theatre is a famous monument and cultural centre, which opened in 1949 to replace an earlier 19th-century Austrian one. Theatre season lasts from early September until July, which is longer than others in Bosnia and around the globe.
On the northern side of Tuzla’s old town at the end of pedestrianised Korzo is Kapija, a large green gate with a beautiful exterior built by the Austrians.
Tuzla is home to three artificial lakes and beaches, providing residents with somewhere to relax on a hot summer’s day. Pannonica, or the main lake, has better beaches and a series of cascades and swimming areas. Modrac and Bistarac have lakeside hotels, restaurants and catholic monastery Saints Peter and Paul is another symbol of Tuzla’s diversity. The Catholic monastery stands proudly in a Bosniak, or Bosnian Muslim majority city, that’s located near a Serb Orthodox Cathedral. You can find the monastery near the old town on the northern side of the river. Tourists can enter the library and gallery inside cafés.
The Serb Orthodox Cathedral, or Cathedral of the Dormition of the Mother of God, is an onion-domed church dating back to 1926. The exterior is grand and photogenic while the interior is of another world. A three-level iconostasis dominates the back with colourful pictures of saints decorating the walls.
Have you ever seen a mosque that looks like a house with a minaret made from timber? Probably not. Tuzla’s Dzindic Mosque is about as peculiar as you can get. White-washed walls and a roof from wooden shingles give the appearance of a house rather than a religious building. For this reason, the Mosque is one of Tuzla’s most photographed spots.
If you want to learn about the rich and complicated history of Eastern Bosnia, check out Tuzla’s Eastern Bosnia Museum. After opening its doors in 1947, the museum has accumulated approximately 50,000 exhibits covering 6500 years of regional history.
Archaeologists discovered a Stone Age settlement near Tuzla in the 1950s and recreated the buildings in an archaeological park. You’ll find nine huts that are said to represent the original ones that are several thousands of years old in the south-eastern corner of Pannonica Lake.