National Park Una, one of the youngest in Europe, beside its rich nature and unique biological diversity, is a part of the country with important historical and cultural monuments. Placed just south of Bihać, in northwestern Bosnia and Herzegovina, Una valley and the surrounding area is a place yet to be discovered.
Left in the shades of the turquoise waters and breathtaking waterfalls of River Una, old towns represent the important heritage of this whole region called Krajina, which was a border line between East and West during the past centuries. It was also home to many defensive lines from both sides, which means there is a fortress on almost every hill, creating a line parallel to the existing border with Croatia. Actually, from every fortress you can see at least one other in the distance, so communication between the old towns was easy to accomplish, and according to legends, in past times residents used fire and smoke as a signaling method.
Starting from far south of the National Park, a place not to miss is the village of Martin Brod. A picturesque but mostly abandoned village, it is home to many interesting places to explore, including the remains of the old town of Rmanj. Unlike other forts which lie on the top of hills and usually are hardly accessible, Rmanj is placed on a low field, easily accessible but with a natural defensive line - surrounded by waters, since it sits at the confluence where the tributary Unac enters the river Una. Although some sources mention 12th century, the old town was probably built between the 14th and 15th centuries. The first written info about the old town is from the 15th century when Sigismund, King of Hungary and Holy Roman Emperor, gave it to a member of the Frankopans, a Croatian noble family. Today it is mostly ruined and abandoned, with some visible remains of walls, and a 10 m high tower, accessible from the village within 5 minutes of easy walking through the houses and corn fields.
Beside the ruins the village offers domestic products, restaurants with fresh fish taken from the river, Rmanj monastery from 15th century, Una waterfalls, canyon hiking trails, and other spots which you can explore in a half a day, but there are enough hiking trails and hidden spots for spending a whole day in the village.
Heading north you will reach Kulen Vakuf, the biggest settlement in the National Park, overlooked by Ostrovica, an old medieval Bosnian castle. More than half an hour of climbing the pretty good path of the hill will take you to the inside, ruined, and with bushes overgrowing. The medieval parts of the fortress were built in the 15th century on the remains of the prehistoric walled site, and the place itself was used until the end of the 19th century by Ottoman forces.
Although not the highest point of the National Park, Ostrovica hill and the castle offer a perfect view of the Una valley, and a large part of the National Park. On the opposite lower hill, over the village and river, stand the ruins of the smaller Ottoman fort od Havala, only 2 km of easy climbing from the village. In Kulen Vakuf is also the 17th century Sultan Ahmed mosque, and some restaurants and bars with local food, but be sure to take water and light food while climbing up to Ostrovica castle.
Next on the route of the old towns of National Park Una is the medieval fortress of Orašac, located on the hill above the village with the same name. Like many other medieval towns in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Orašac was built between the 13th and 15th centuries. Today's remains include part of town walls with gates and a watchtower, including a nearby mosque from the Ottoman period, with 2 minarets.
The old town on the hill can be reached by the road suitable for vehicle, including a few mintues walk after leaving the vehicle, also offering a great view on the village and river valley.
Klišević tower (also Kulenović tower) on the Klišević plateau (550 masl) under Ljutoč mountain, was built at the end of the 17th century, with both residential and defensive purposes by a local noble family. Like others, it is a pretty abandoned monument, but still standing high with half of its tower walls ruined. The tower is located in the middle of a cca 6 km long hiking/biking trail from village of Ćukovi to Štrbački Buk waterfalls, the main attraction of National Park Una. You can start this trail directly from Štrbački Buk waterfalls, or from Ćukovi at NP Entrance 2. The tower will be reached after cca 30 mins (or some more), so don't forget to bring some food and larger supplies of water with yourself. If you continue north towards Bihac, you will see the last of the notable old towns in National Park Una, Vranograč, with its watchtower visible very high on the rock hill, but better not approached because of landmines around the hill.
These places are just a small part of the collection of old towns in this part of the country, and the route of old towns and castles in northwestern Bosnia and Herzegovina continues for a many more kilometres outside the National Park zone. Driving to the north and north-east you can find the forts and castles of Sokolac, Bihać, Ostrožac, Cazin, Bosanska Krupa, Velika Kladuša and many, many more.