Known for not only its rich past but as an important place on the caravan route from the Mediterian (Adriatic) coast to Hungary, Olovo is still located on the Sarajevo-Tuzla highway M18 built in 1958.
In written documents Olovo was first mentioned in 1382 under the name Plumbum (lat.-lead) to the allegation that a city was named after the ore of lead.
In the fourteenth and fifteenth century Olovo was known as mining and commercial center with lucrative customs. The ethnic structure of the population changed over the past centuries due to major historical events as well as termination of the exploitation of lead ore.
In the Middle Ages most of the population in Olovo consisted of Sasi miners, various merchants and craftsmen from Dubrovnik and Dalmatia. The monastery of Sveta Gospa Olovska (The Olovo Shrine of Our Lady) , nowadays considered as one of the oldest monasteries in Balkan, was built on their initiative in the second half of the fourteenth century, during the reign of Tvrtko I Kotromanić.
Today this religious building is the place where a large number of believers gather from all parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia as well.
The number of the Muslim population increased when the Turks arrived. They built the mosque on the locality of present Gornje Olovo in the early sixteenth century. In the seventeenth century Muslims made up three quarters of the Olovo population.
The place known as Donje Olovo emerged later in the twentieth century. The reason for this were swift mountain rivers (Bioštica – which flows from Knežina and Stupčanica originated from springs near Han Pijesak) which flooded surrounding fields in spring time.
After the Austria-Hungary occupation the construction of the railway Zavidovići – Olovo – Han Pijesak contributed considerably to the development of Donje Olovo, today’s urban core. It also represented the beginning of a planned exploitation of forests , Olovo is rich with, which nowadays represents the main economic resource.
The Nobel Prize winner Ivo Andric wrote about famous Olovo’s spa and its well-known healing properties (qualities) in his novel “Miracle in Olovo.”