Church of Croatian Martyrs, built in honour of those who died in the Battle of Krbava
The Udbina municipality within Lika-Senj County
|• Mayor||Ivan Pešut (HDZ)|
|• Municipal Council|
|• Total||683.44 km2 (263.88 sq mi)|
|• Density||2.7/km2 (7.1/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC+1 (CET)|
The town is located in the large karst field called Krbava. It is approximately 45 kilometres from Gospić, the county capital and nearest sizeable town. The field has a small airport, the only one in Lika.
Udbina was one of Illyrian territories. In the medieval Kingdom of Croatia, Udbina was known as Civitas Corbaviae (Town of Krbava) and was the seat of a Diocese of Corbavia from 1185, when it was separated from the Archdiocese of Split, until 1460, when the diocese seat moved to the Krbava's former canonical territory of Modruš due to Ottoman military campaigns in the area. The Bishop's Court was built during Bishop Bonifacio in the 14th century. In the Middle Ages, Udbina was a seat (Latin: castrum) of the historic Krbava County. The name Udbina was mentioned for the first time in 1493, following the Battle of Krbava Field in which the Croats under ban Emerik Derenčin and the Frankopans suffered defeat from the Ottoman Empire.
The medieval fortified town, from which only the remains were preserved, was governed in 1509 by Ban Ivan Karlović and between 1527 and 1689 by the Turks as part of the Eyalet of Bosnia.The 1712 census of Lika and Krbava records that 44 Croatian, 6 Bunjevci and 20 Vlach families live in Udbina. Ancient tombstones were discovered near the remains of the Church of St. Mark Graveyard (Named after the folk tradition that martyr saint and several heroes of the Battle of Krbava were buried on the site), which was a shrine with a triangular ending destroyed by the Serbs in 1942. In the vicinity, near Mutilić, there are ruins of the old Church of St. Augustine (quadrangular sanctuary with a bell tower).
In the late 19th and early 20th century, Udbina was part of the Lika-Krbava County of the Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia. According to the 1910 census, the town of Udbina was inhabited by a Croat majority and Serb minority; 1,317 Croats and 621 Serbs.
Despite the fact that by 1942 the entire population of Udbina and Podudbina had been inhabited by Croat Catholics, the government of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia erected in Udbina a monument to the King Alexander I which was removed only after the establishment of the Independent State of Croatia (NDH). During World War II, Udbina was part of NDH's territory. Local gendarmerie sergeant Drakulić gave 200 rifles to the local Serbs, which on 12 April 1941 began with an ethnic cleansing of Lika from Gračac to Gospić. In 1942, Serbs burned two Catholic churches, Church of St. Nicholas and Church of St. Mark Graveyard. In December of the same year, the Croatian population was expelled from Udbina. In order to conceal ruins, Serbs after the war built a hotel on the site of the Church of St. Nicholas, and used stone from the Church of St. Mark Graveyard for building a sheep barn. In addition, Serbs also destroyed the Church of St. Augustin in Mutilić and the Catholic cemetery in Korija. During the war, many local Serbs were killed by Ustaše and local Croats by Chetniks and Yugoslav Partisans. The Orthodox Church of St. Nicholas (filial of the Church of the Holy Transfiguration of Mutilić) was also destroyed during World War II. Most Croats fled from Udbina after the massacre on the eve before the St. Lucy's Day. Croats fled through Trovro mountain all the way to Lovinac.
After World War II, the new Yugoslav authority took away the houses and lands from the Croats and gave them to Serbs who comprised Udbina's majority, as confirmed by 1961–91 censuses, with smaller numbers of Croats and Muslims. It seems that there was a Franciscan monastery of St. John on the "Udbina hill". Yugoslav authorities erected a monument to the Yugoslav Partisans on the site without doing any archeological research or getting approval from the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments. During the construction of the Partisan monument, remains of medieval edifices and human bones were found on the site. In SFR Yugoslavia, Udbina was part of the Korenica municipality.
During the Croatian War of Independence, Udbina was under control of the Republic of Serbian Krajina. During that time, the remaining Croats from Krbava were forced to leave. The only remaining Croatian settlement on Krbava, Podlapač was saved from the Serb militias by the UNPROFOR's Czech battalion. The local airport was used as an airbase for offensive operations against Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, in direct defiance of NATO's Operation Deny Flight. The airstrip was eventually destroyed by a NATO's 39 aircraft-strong strike on 21 November 1994. Udbina was taken over by Croatian forces on 7 August 1995, during Operation Storm.
In the 2001 census, 51% of Udbina's population were Croats, mostly from Bosnia. Today, Udbina is a part of the Lika-Senj County. In recent years, Udbina recorded an increase in tourist visits.
According to the 2011 census, there were 1,875 residents in the municipality, of which 51% were Serbs and 45% were Croats. In 2016 on the instructions of Vlaho Orepić, Minister of Interior in the Cabinet of Tihomir Orešković, Croatian police started intensive patrols and checking out the residence of local population and that resulted in 71 deletions from the residence register. Voices of criticism of police action were raised, including the one of the Deputy Mayor of Udbina Milan Uzelac, claiming that the action is disproportionately and primarily targeted at the Serbs of Croatia and promoted by a president of a local right wing organization close to the ruling Bridge of Independent Lists. Representatives of local Serb population organized a meeting with Serb National Council to discuss the issue. 2011 census was the first post-war census at which Serbs of Croatia, many of whom left the area during the Operation Storm, constituted the majority of local population. Minister Vlaho Orepić in his statements prior to Police activities in Udbina and the rest of the country called out the Serb minority for election manipulation with the fictive residences.
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