CULTURAL ROUTE

Table 9

 

The first light bulb in the whole region of Bijelo Polje glowed right here, in the centre of the village. Otto Jung, a German from Banat, in 1936 constructed a small hydroelectric power station, the remains of which can be seen in the village even today. It provided electricity for the school, the municipal building, a pub, several shops and one watermill. And while lanterns were still hanging in Bijelo Polje, the centre of Bistrica where several shops were situated was lit with the first electric light bulb. Electrical radio devices as well first reached Bistrica, and many people from Bijelo Polje used to come here for “dinner sessions” to listen to the news. Later on, another two power stations which were functioning until electrification were constructed in Bistrica. It is said that the generator from the first hydroelectric power station is located in Priboj today and that it is still in working order.

The mosque in the centre of the village was built in 1970. It was built by the inhabitants of the village on the foundations of the old mosque which was set on fire during World War II in 1943. According to folk tradition the old mosque was built in the first half of the 19th century by the prosperous Avdul-beg Hasanbegović who laid the foundations and built the wall of the mosque. Among the estates of the Hasanbegović family there were watermills, roller mills and one of the most beautiful blockhouses in the area. Built more than 250 years ago, the three-storied pavilion of the Hasanbegović was one of the longest standing pavilions in this region. It stood right up until the nineteen-seventies when it was knocked down. Two families of different religions – the Hasanbegovićes and the Đalovićes have lived in hamony in it since the beginning of the 20th century. That dual-ownership saved the pavilion during World War II. It was the only house in the village which was not set on fire in the inter-ethnic conflicts, when even auxiliary facilities in which cattle were kept did not remain intact. The famous poet Junuz Međedović lauded it in his poem titled “The Pavilion on the Hill”.

“All was burnt but the pavilion lives The common smoke rises away, The war fury passes beside it For two religions do protect it …”

The villages in the valley of the River Bistrica were mentioned as long ago as 1571 in the Turkish census of that year. Their centre once was the settlement called Kule (the Towers) where Hajdarpaša Selim built a four-storey tower from which he governed this area. The centre slowly gravitated towards the watermills, near which the first tavern (kahva) was founded. That first tavern was washed away by the River Bistrica in 1896, and amongst locals a saying has remained “The raging waters brought it, and the muddy waters took it away”. In spite of this, taverns continued to be opened, and the Kahve settlement, modern-day Bistrica, took its name from the word for tavern. Peasants from the surrounding villages used to come here to grind grain and roll heavy cloth, and while they were waiting for the grain to be ground they would relax in the taverns. Also the first han (motel) where they could also stay overnight was built soon after. The village was developing fast: shops, tailor’s, barbers, inns, blacksmith’s, rope shops, butcher’s and bakeries were all opened and Bistrica became a local administrative centre.

 
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