Priboj is located at the three border point of Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia – Herzegovina. Priboj is a predominantly mountainous district with the lowest point at 392 m above the sea level and the highest point of 1. 500 m above the sea level. It is a town with 30, 3770 inhabitants on an area of 553 square km. In the vicinity of Priboj there is Priboj Spa, famous for its thermal springs since Roman times. The climate is temperate.
A BRIEF HISTORICAL SURVEY
Priboj belongs to the district Donje Polimlje and it is a territory with relatively low mountains, low hillsides, pastures, forests, springs, streams and rivers it is an area with fertile hollows and valleys, predominantly to the south from Priboj, and which was convenient for settling .The main communication direction is the Lim River not only for Priboj but for the whole region.
In Priboj’ s part of Polimlje there are three settlements known since prehistoric times. They are in Sastavci, Krajcinovici, and Bucje. This wealthy district influenced the development of metal cultures. There are many metalworking settlements registered in Zabrnjci, Hercegovacki Goles, Banja and Mazici and also there are necropolises in Krajcinovici, Sastavci, Plasch, Kaludjerovici, Pozegrmac, Mazici and Chitluc.
Most of the inhabitants are Autariats. There are still present lllyrian topographies kept: Lim, Ustibar, and Mataruge without origins in the Serbian language. In the region of Krajcinovici some tombstones were found. It is believed that they belonged to the Celts. These regions were within the Roman Empire for 5 centuries ( I – V ).
In the sixth and seventh century Serbs started to settle these areas dividing the land geographically into districts. Chronicles written by Dukijanin in the 12th century mentioned the region Podgorje which is within this region and the district Debrec. The centre of political and cultural life of the district was connected with monasteries St Nikola in Pribojska Banja ( Spa ) and St. George in Mazici. As the central part of the district, Banja should have been a bigger settlement in that period of time and did not lose its economical importance even under Turkish Empire.
The medieval necropolis with tombstones in Priboj dates back to the 14th /15th century, it probably belonged to Priboj, at that time mentioned as Pribon in documents from 1530 and 1532. Traveling writer Kuripesic passing through these areas around 1530 – s, mentioned the town of Jagod on the left bank of the Lim river. The famous Turkish writer, Evlija Celebija, passing through these areas in 1662 talked about an abandoned town on Dud mountain on the left bank of the river Lim. The town was founded by Serbian kings. On Austro – Hungarian maps from 1914 this fortress was marked as Ruine Jagod.
In the second half of the 16th century Priboj developed economically. The two very important merchant’ s roads leading to Bosnian and Dubrovnik’ s passed through it at that time. At the end of the 16th century a famous bey, Sinan, established a stopping place for caravans and founded a bridge over the Uvac river. The bridge was destroyed long ago. According to E. Chelebija records Priboj had 300 houses covered with specific roof tiles, a mosque and three khans in the 17th century.
In the 18th century and at the time of the First Serbian Uprising there was a fire that destroyed Priboj. According to the Berlin’ s contract the Austro – Hungarian monarchy occupied Bosnia, and the border between these countries led over Uvac, 3km from Priboj. With the establishment of the east – Bosnian railway track from Sarajevo to Uvac, Priboj started to develop. When Austro – Hungary annexed Bosnia and Hertzegovina it withdrew its barracks from Priboj and the Turkish government stayed there until 1912. These regions were then liberated during the Balkan wars and they joined Serbia. At that time migrations started taking place. There is a record that at the beginning of the 19th century about 100 families from the Priboj region moved to Uzicka Crna Gora. In the first half of the 20th century most of the Muslim population moved to Bosnia and Hertzegovina and Turkey.
After the two World Wars in the 20th century Priboj started to develop intensively. The automobile factory in Priboj brought prosperity in general and positive changes started.
CULTURAL & HISTORICAL HERITAGE
Since prehistoric times Priboj has been settled by human communities. There is no proof that there were human communities on this area throughout the palaeolithic. The big cave in Kratovo with its size and atmospheare was suitable for the settling of the palaeolithic people and the survival of the first hunters. It could be concluded that people from the age of neolithic lived there.
Throughout the neolithic some settlements in Priboj region appeared between 4600 and 3200 BC. Eighteen settlements have been discovered until today. The oldest one is on Luca in Sastavci, the youngest is on Celina in the part of Priboj called Pobrezje. Ethnically these communities belong to Starcevo and Vinca’ s tural group.
Great cultural and ethnic chang these areas and Europe as well happened with the appearance of metal occurrence firstly copper then bronze and finally iron. The prehistoric mine Jarmovac is one of nine centres for studying the origin development of mining and copper metaallurgy in Europe.
The development of the Bronze Age and the Iron Age in the district of Priboj, can be followed through the exploration of mounds ( graveyards ) and settlements all over this period. Fourteen tombs have been explored until now, 13 out of them are in the valley of Poblacnica and one in the Lim valley. Almost in every Priboj’ s village there is a prehistoric mound but most of them have not been explored. Most of those are in the valley of the Podblacnica on Golesh hill, in Mazici ,Banja, Krativo, Chitluk. There are 136 tombs registered on 54 localities.
In Roman times Priboj district was not very attractive but certainly it was definitely settled by an autochthonous or even romanized population. This is indicated by a certain number of stone Roman monuments, stellas and squares. Roman monuments were discovered in Banja ( Spa ), Celice, Mazici, and Her Golesh.
In Priboj region there are many monuments from medieval times such as churches, remains of fortresses and necropolises.
Fortified medieval towns within this region are: Ostrik, ( on the so called mountain of the same name in the viilagge Celice ), Jagat ( on the mountain Bic above the town of Priboj town ), Ravanjski grad ( on Big ruins in Crnetici ), Ostro ( on Jewish ruins in Kukurovici ) and Sjeverin ( Jerina’ s fortress above Sjeverin ). All these fortified towns have their own history, little is known about them but they all have a lot of things in common. These towns are difficult to gain access to, usually there is one narrow path, support walls, a fortress system and there are wells and cisterns. Those fortresses served to the population as defence during the times of battles.
Two monastries in Dabar St. Nicholas ( in Pribojska Banja Spa ) and St. George ( in Mazici ) are centers of spiritual, cultural and economical life during the medieval century within this region. Both monasteries were founded during the pre – Nemanjic Dinasty period of time.
PRIBOJ AT THE BEGINNING OF THE 20th CENTURY
The turning point in the history of Priboj happened at the end of the 19th century. The railway, the position on the junction of three borders contributed to Priboj becoming predominantly a merchants’ town. Water pipes were built, restaurants, barracks, buildings and new blocks of flats as well. Merchants from Nova Varos started to settle in Priboj. These were the families of Borisavljevic, Stevovic, Paunovic, Vranic and Roljevic. Then came the coffeemakers Strijelic, Micijevic, Jovancevic. Apart the local residents Smail Hasanagic opened a shop.
In a field owned by a clergyman, at the end of 19th century a beautiful park with a tennis court was created. Thus Priboj had a tennis court before any other town in the area.