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Una National Park

National Park Una is located in the western part of Bosnia and Herzegovina on the border with Croatia. This National Park is known for its breathtaking waterfalls and rivers, and it is a common place for rafting. There are 50 mountains in National park Una. The highest and most prominent peak is Ljutoč (1,168 m/3,830 ft).

National Park Una, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Geography

National Park Una is placed in the outermost western part of Bosnia and Herzegovina. South of the city Bihać, along with the Croatian border itself. National park Una is only 40 km (25 mi) away from National Park Plitvička Jezera in Croatia.

National Park Una includes the valley parts of the Rivers Una and Unac and the slopes of the mountains Plješevica, Grmeč, and Osječenica. National Park Una stretches along the valley of the upper course of the Una River, as well as around the canyon of the Unac River, the right tributary of the Una, all the way to the Krka River in the west.

National Park Una, Bosnia and Herzegovina

The national park was named after the most important River Una. The Una River is a combination of valuable natural features and a diverse and preserved natural landscape. It is of exceptional beauty throughout its 212 km (132 mi) length.

The total area covered by National Park Una is 19.800 ha (48.9 acres). It is placed in Una-Sana Canton, close to the towns of Bihać, Bosanski Petrovac, and Drvar. The biggest and most important of which is the town of Bihać.

This park is part of the Dinaric Alps. National Park Una is 1 of 4 National Parks of Bosnia and Herzegovina and is very important for the Balkan region. The area of Una National Park represents a unique natural entity in this part of Europe, very valuable for the preservation of the overall landscape and biological diversity.

In the entire valley of the River Una, along the more significant part of Una National Park, there are cultural monuments, fortresses, towers, and cities that give it additional value. The valley part of this protected area is located at an altitude between 220 (720 ft) and 450 m (1,475 ft) and is oriented in the northwest-southeast direction.

National Park Una, Bosnia and Herzegovina

There are a lot of sights worth visiting in National Park Una, like:

  • Štrbačk Buk ─ 24,5 m (80 ft) high waterfall is National Park's biggest and most spectacular waterfall. Before, the shores of this waterfall were decorated with numerous Una mills that resemble stilt houses.
  • Martinbrodski Slapovi ─ 24 km (15 mi) upstream from Štrbački Buk in the direction of Kulen Vakuf, there are the Martinbrod Waterfalls, which represent the largest complex of waterfalls on the Una River. The length of this largest complex of waterfalls in National Park is 800 m (2,625 ft), with a total height difference of 54 m (177 ft).

Geology

Una is almost in its entire longitudinal profile a cascading river. Tufa barriers create river islands, rapids, and waterfalls which add to the uniqueness of the majestic River Una. Tufa is significant for this area because it makes different shapes that appeal to visitors.

The tufa deposition process is possible under strictly defined conditions. The conditions should be ideal in terms of temperature, ph value of water, biotope, the content of calcium and magnesium, as well as saturation of water with calcium carbonate.

Tufa is formed from calcium carbonate in the waters of these rivers. During the turbulence of clean and cold Una waters, carbon dioxide is released from the calcium bicarbonate by spilling and evaporating, and calcium carbonate is deposited.

Phytogenic processes accelerate the tufa deposition process. Algae are very important because they consume carbon dioxide. Thereby they support the excretion of calcium carbonate.

National Park Una, Bosnia and Herzegovina

During the paleozoic times, geological formations were created in Natural Park Una. Rocks here have a carbonate origin. Therefore, there is a lot of limestone and dolomite in their composition. Constant dissolution of the limestone in the water created the karst grounds, characteristic of the Dinaric Alps.

The highest peaks in this National Park are:

National Park Una, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Ecology

Pastures, meadows, and forests are terrestrial habitats in the Una National Park area. The most significant part of the surface of the Una National Park is covered with different types of forests.

The grasslands of Una National Park represent permanent anthropogenic stages. They cannot survive on their own, so they must be maintained by humans indirectly or directly. Many plants and animals inhabit this area. Chasmophytic plants that break through limestone rocks are essential. In the areas above the canyon, there are numerous grasslands.

River Una and River Unac don't have developed water macrophytic vegetation, and only some small patches of macrophytic species can be found. Wet and swampy grasslands are represented in Una National Park area. There are considerable Alder forests in the area next to River Una.

Tufa waterfalls represent their own ecological biotope, which is significantly different from all the other habitats in freshwater. A total of 25 species of algae, 42 plant species, and 17 moss species were found. Most of these species participate in the creation of tufa formations.

National Park Una, Bosnia and Herzegovina

The fauna of National Park Una is very diverse. It can be classified as the most diverse National Park in Europe. Many different animal species settled in Parks areas, and 33 species of mammals in the Una area and the National Park are protected.

More than 120 species of birds have been recorded. National Park Una is attractive due to the presence of certain rare and endangered species and a large number of songbirds.

Fish are significant for National Park Una, and they are closely monitored. Among the 15 species of fish in the Una River in the area of the National Park and its tributaries, the most significant are Grayling (Thymalsus thymallus) and Brown trout (Salmo trutta).

There are at least 60 species of mammals that can be classified. Among the mammals of Una, there are two endemic species: the alpine vole (Microtus multiplex) and the woolly vole (Dinaromys Bogdanov).

Of these 60 species of mammals, 13 belong to beasts (Carnivora), 9 belong to insectivores (Insectivora), 17 to rodents (Rodentia), 3 to the even-toed order (Artiodactyla), 16 to bats (Chiroptera), and 1 to the two-toothed order (Lagomorpha).

Amphibian species are also represented in National Park Una, the most important of which is the Great Kingfisher, the Great Green Frog, the Salamander. Reptiles of the park are primarily common continental ones. There are 12 species of reptiles from two orders: crustaceans (Squamata) and turtles (Chelonia).

As of now, there are 75 species of Butterflies. They show that the ecosystem of National Park Una is balanced and healthy.

National Park Una, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Human History

The area of National Park Una has undoubtedly been inhabited since prehistoric times until the present day. This is evidenced by numerous archaeological sites, the remains of multiple forts, hillforts, as well as medieval forts still existing today.

The legend says that name of River Una originates from the Romans. When the Romans were conquering these areas, a soldier saw the valley of River Una. He was fascinated by its beauty and shouted: "Una," which means “the only one.” People adopted this name because it represented the true uniqueness of the River.

The first inhabitants of this area were Illiryan tribes Iapodes which are the most important for National Park Una. Iapodes also settled in Croatia and Slovenia. They settled in this area because of the favorable living conditions, good climate, fertile land, and nearby water.

National Park Una, Bosnia and Herzegovina

The development of Iapodes culture took place approximately during the last few centuries AD. They were engaged in agriculture and cattle breeding of different domestic animals. Also, they hunted in nearby forests and fished in River Una.

Iapodes positioned their homes on naturally protected high locations. They made strong soil and stone, dry walls which added more security to their homes. It was common for Iapodes to build stilt houses called sojenice. Stilt houses "Sojenice" were placed on calm parts of River Una.

Iapodes were a highly organized society. Their infrastructure in these areas indicates that they knew different building techniques. Protection of settlements and communication between themselves is one more proof of Iapodes' development.

Iapodes are famous for their material culture. They are known for their rich jewelry decoration, weapons, and all the metal things they used. Also, they made animal and human figures with different materials. Objects made from clay and stone are characteristic of Una valley.

Iapodes' burial process was fundamental. They were buried in urns and then burned. One of the more significant urns on this territory was found in National Park Una.

When Romans first attacked Illyricum, Iapodes were among the first who opposed them. However, as Rome was much stronger, they eventually occupied Illyrian territory. This territory was known as the province Illyricum and later, the Roman province Dalmatia.

castle Ostrovica, National Park Una, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Castle Ostrovica

After that, this area was located between the Croatian and Bosnian medieval kingdoms. Also, this territory was significant because numerous battles between Croatian, Bosnian, and Hungarian medieval kingdoms took place here.

Afterward, this territory and the whole of Bosnia and Herzegovina were occupied by Ottoman Empire. Fortresses represented a safe way of life at that time because they were safe, surrounded by thick walls, from potential enemies. Some of the forts you can visit in National Park Una are:

  • Old Bosnian town Ostrovica
  • Tower Klišević
  • Ottoman Fort Havala
  • Medieval town Orašac
  • Medieval town Rmanj

It is worth mentioning watermills that are placed all over River Una. Until the beginning of the twentieth century, dozens of mills along the Una River existed. Today only a few are in operation. These watermills are known as "Mlin Potočak." They use the power of water for work. People here mainly built mills with vertical shaft transmissions.

In ancient times, some mills also had "Bučnice." Bučnice represents a simple system for fabric washing. Those were old washing machines that worked only with the power of water. Today, these would make great eco-washing machines. Some of the last "Bućnice" can only be seen in Martin Brod.

National Park Una, Bosnia and Herzegovina

The history of National Park Una

Una was declared a national park by the law in the Una National Park on May 29, 2008. The law defined the borders and regulated issues of protection, improvement, and use of Una National Park, as well as its management.

Locals noticed the importance and significance of the Una River and launched an initiative to name this area a National Park. The authorities noticed how important this place is for this part of Europe.

Some importance that helped this territory to be proclaimed a National Park were: Biological and landscape diversity. Relief forms created one of the rare natural paths toward the Adriatic Sea. This includes a diversity of plant and animal species and the presence of rare and endemic species that are important for Bosnia and Herzegovina and Europe, but also unique karst and hydrographic forms.

National Park Una, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Best Hikes in National Park Una

To get the best experience in National Park Una, you should try at least one hiking trail. There are a few routes varying in difficulty and length that represent the beautiful National Park Una. Some of these routes are bike friendly, too.

Along The Paths of Past

This is an educational trail for hobby and beginner hikers, great for spending time with your family and learning about National Park Una. Also, it is bike friendly. The trail is 5 km (3,1 mi) long, starts on the 2nd entrance, and finishes at the Štrbački Buk.

Info boards give a little more insight into Una National Park's history, geography, and ecology. The trail excellently shows that this area was populated from prehistoric times, with buildings and ruins from different cultures. Locals often used this trail because it led them to water mills that were placed on the banks of River Una.

National Park Una, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Ripač - Štrbački Buk Via Dinnarica trail

This trail is much longer than the previous trail, with 30 km (18,5 mi) in length. The trail starts at a nearby town, Ripač. From the start, you are greeted by the beautiful River Una. After that, you head to the 1st entrance of Una National Park. From there, follow the beautiful trail through the forest to Štrbački Buk.

You can take a little break and head up the previously mentioned trail "Along the paths of the past." The trail is not that difficult but keep in mind that it's long.

Štrbački Buk, National Park Una, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Štrbački Buk from Gorjevac

A trail made for running, but it can also serve hikers. The course starts at the Resort Gorjevac and leads through a beautiful forest to Štrbački Buk. It is 15 km (9 mi) long and is packed with stunning views.

Štrbački Buk, National Park Una, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Major Cities

National Park Una is surrounded by Bihać, Bosanski Brod, and Drvar. These towns are relatively close. National Park Una is 22 km (13,5 mi) away from Bihać, 149 km (92,5 mi) away from Banja Luka, and 53 km (33 mi) away from Bosanska Krupa. Here is a little insight into these towns and what you should know:

Bihać

Bihać is the closest city to Natural Park Una. It has a population of 56,000 people. Bihać is the administrative center of Una-Sana Canton. Therefore, it is a developed city with a lot of content.

Bihać is rich in culture and tradition and has many sights worth visiting. Bihać has always been a crossroads of noteworthy roads, so the touch of East and West, old and new, is visible at every step. The natural beauty and delicious food of this city cannot be disputed.

Bihać city, National Park Una, Bosnia and Herzegovina

If you want to visit cultural and historical sights, you should start with the following: Kapetanova kula, Crkva Sv. Ante Padovanskog, and Bihaćki Sarkofag. Since this city is significant to Bosnia and Herzegovina, there are a lot of apartments and hotels you can book.

Banja Luka

Banja Luka is the second-largest administrative city in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The population of this city is 185,000 people. Banja Luka is the center of Bosnian Krajina and the administrative center of the Republic of Serbia. The city lies upon River Vrbas.

Banja Luka is a modern European city and a recognizable center in the region with rich cultural and sports facilities. Attractions that you can visit in Banja Luka include Kastel, Ferhat Pasha Mosque and Cathedral of St. Bonaventure.

Fortress Kastel in Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Fortress Kastel in Banja Luka

Since this city is really important, it is relatively easy to get there by bus, train, or car. Hotels and apartments vary in price, so you can find something that suits you.

Bosanska Krupa

Bosanska Krupa is a city in the northwestern part of Bosnia and Herzegovina, located in the valleys of the Una and Krušnica Rivers. The population of this city is around 29,000 people. After the war, Bosanska Krupa was among the three most destroyed local communities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, after which this town regained its glory.

The most prominent tourist attractions in this area are natural resources. You can find beautiful places for fishing, walking, hunting, or just enjoying the beautiful natural surroundings at every step. The jewel of this area is the crystal clear River Una.

Tourists are offered a visit to the Old Town, the Pset Fortress, which is in the very center of the city, on the banks of the Una River. Therefore, there are many hotels and apartments you can book.

Bosanska Krupa, Bosnia and Herzegovina

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