Home Tourism The Trappist Monastery “Marija Zvijezda” in Banja Luka (PHOTO)

The Trappist Monastery “Marija Zvijezda” in Banja Luka (PHOTO)


Only 5 km away from the centre of Banja Luka, tucked under the Trappist forest, is the Trappist monastery “Marija Zvijezda”. A place in Banja Luka that everyone should visit. A place that tells numerous stories about the history of the city, a place which left a strong mark on its development.

The first Trappist priests came to Banja Luka in 1869, led by Franco Faner. In the suburbs of Banja Luka, in Delibašino village, they bought a larger piece of land and built a monastery.

The Trappists are considered one the strictest Catholic priestly order, created in the French monastery of La Trappe, which is guided by the motto “Ora et labora”, which means “Pray and work”, to which they devote their whole lives, vowing to silence, without communication with the outside world.  It was the same with the Banja Luka Abbey, which with 265 monks was the most numerous in the world until World War I.

Given that the number of monks in the Banja Luka Abbey was decreasing (there are two left today), they had to make certain changes and now they mostly work with people.

In the monastery courtyard, there is a replica of a log cabin of only a few square meters, in which six monks lived upon their arrival, at the time when they were building the original monastery, which was about two hundred meters away from the present monastery, and the current one was built in 1925.

Upon their arrival to Banja Luka, the Trappist monks, in addition to building a monastery, started many processes that influenced the development of the city.

In 1873, they built a Banja Luka brewery where they produced Trappist beer, today’s “Nektar” brewery.

They built the first mini-hydro power plant in Banja Luka and in the Balkans, with the operation of the turbine, the first light bulb in the city was lit in 1899, in the monastery.

They started more than thirty trades, founded an orphanage, an orthopaedic hospital where they produced orthopaedic aids – today it is the “Dr Miroslav Zotović” Institute for Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

What they are particularly famous for is the production of the now famous Trappist cheese, which has become the city’s brand. The cheese recipe is a closely guarded secret that is passed down by word of mouth. The only written trace of the recipe is preserved in the French monastery of La Trappe.

Thus, Father Tomo, one of the two present-day monks, was sent to France to receive the secret cheese recipe, which he learned in the Monte Cassino monastery in Italy, in order to start the cheese production process here. All production takes place in Aleksandrovac, 20 km away from the city.

Father Tomo is the only keeper of the recipe for Trappist cheese in this part of Europe, but for now there is no one to pass it on to because there are no new monks.

The interior of the “Maria Zvijezda” monastery is impressive and can only be envisioned through personal experience, and in the monastery crypt there is an exhibition of the development of the monastery, which shows all the crafts and production processes that were started.

A small cemetery, final resting place for the Trappist monks, is at the back of the monastery.


Author: Marijana Mališanović, tourism graduate with a tourist guide license

Photo: wikipedia, biskupija-banjaluka.org, inyourpocket.com

The Srpska Times



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