BIJELJINA CITY HALL
Archeological evidence proved that there were settlements in the region of Semberija in the period of Neolithic Vinca culture, as well as Copper and Iron Age. In the first century of the new era, Semberija became a part of the Roman province of Panonia. Immigration of Slavic population to this region started in 7th century. The medieval Semberija was located on the crossroads between powerful states of the time: Hungary, Serbia and Bosnia, and it was part of one of these states depending on their military successes.
The town of Bijeljina was mentioned in historic documents for the first time at a later date. The oldest record of the town dates back to March 3, 1446 and today it is kept in the Dubrovnik archive.
The Turks conquered Semberija in 1529. At the beginning of the conquest, the local Christian population moved to Hungary and deeper in the European continent, so that Semberija was left almost completely deserted (record dating from 1533 showed that there were only four villages with 55 households left). But in the years to come, the population increased. By sultan`s decree in 1580, the settlement of Bijeljina, then Cetvrtkoviste, gain a status of a small town (kasaba). Since the year 1634, town of Cetvrtkoviste became known as Belina.
Austria took over these parts after the Great Turkish War, and governed since 1716 until 1739. The Austrian government was succeeded by Turkish occupation which lasted until Berlin congress in 1878 when Bosnia and Herzegovina was awarded to Austria. the Turkish occupation was disrupted only once, in the year of 1809, when Bijeljina was liberated for a short period during the rise under Karadjodje, famous leader of the Serb`s rise against Ottomans.
Shortly before the end of Turkish occupation, Bijeljina was the largest town of the sanjak – with 6.074 inhabitants in 1864. Along with the Austrian administration in Semberija came European cultural influences. This was also a period of a strong economic development.
After the World War I, Bijeljina and Semberija became part of the. Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. After the World War II, it was part of Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia, up until the civil war in Bosnia and Herzegovina when Bijeljina became one of the most important urban centers, and Semberija one of the most important economic regions in Republic of Srpska.
Composition of population in Semberija was determined by location between major states, catholic and orthodox Christianity and the fact that for a long time it was occupied by the Ottoman empire. Migrations were frequent, depending on change of governance, but parts of population stayed and lived here where their built their churches, mosques, synagogues and other temples, side by side. One of the oldest spiritual centers, and oldest building on the territory of the Bijeljina municipality is Tavna orthodox monastery. Building of the monastery started in 14th century, but it gained it`s final form in the 16th century. The very first mosques were built at the beginning of the Turkish conquest, and the first catholic churches under the Austrian governance.
Lately, Bijeljina became center of the Diocese of Zvornik – Tuzla. New central church has been built, as well as several monasteries and smaller churches. There are also Islamic, Catholic and Slovak Evangelist communities in Bijeljina.
There are very few buildings in Bijeljina that could prove its long and rich history, for the reason of frequent wars and devastation they brought so often. Except for just a few buildings dating back to Turkish period (St. George Church, finished in 1872, and building of Konak, guest house of the time, built in 1876, today Museum of Semberija) most of the buildings that are considered old have been built during the Austro-Hungarian governance and Kingdom of Yugoslavia.