Kulen Vakuf is the largest settlement in the National park area. For ages it was an important nodal point of roads leading to and from the coast of Adria. In the ancient Roman times there was a road leading from Zadar (coastal city in Croatia) which connected Roman provinces of Dalmatia and Panonia.
A town named Džisr-i-kebir (turkish for The Large Bridge), which was the first name of today’s Kulen Vakuf, was founded after Sultan Ahmed I (reigned 1603 – 1617) built the first mosque in this area. Its today’s name derives from its XVII century name Palanka (a small town) of Mahmut paša Kulenovića (Mahmut paša Kulenovič was a vakif1 and he helped erect many of town’s buildings). In XIX century the town is officially named Kulen Vakuf.
After the Peace treaty of Karlovac in 1699, Bosnian vali2 Halil-paša further improved and fortified this small town. The town emerged on an artificial river island on the left bank of the river Una, and had the river and its artificially made armlet (which is still there) running along its defensive walls. Thus, along with the protective walls, the town featured a very effective moat. The town walls featured four gates and two tabijas3- Horića-tabija on the east side and Ćemalovića-tabija on the west side of the walls. The main city entrance gate was on the bridge, and the second gate was next to the Sultan – Ahmet mosque and can still be found there. Two side gates to the town were on the eastern and western side, near the tabijas. After the town had been occupied by Austrian-Hungarian armies in 1878, the city walls were torn down.
Above the town, on the left river bank of the Una and next to its tributary the Ostrovica, there is a medieval and Ottoman fortress of Ostrovica, and on the right river bank you can see the ruins of the Ottoman fortress of Havala.
1 Vakif - a person who voluntary donates some of his/her properties or funds the building of communal objects (often bridges, religious institutions, aqueducts, etc)
2 Vali – a governor of a province in Ottoman Empire
3 Tabija- a fortified building where military forces are stationed