Rafting on the Neretva River
When visiting Bosnia, do try to go off the beaten path as much as you can. Rafting on the Neretva is definitely an exhilarating experience. Halfway from Sarajevo to Mostar, we arrived to a restaurant , where we were welcomed bu a wonderful team of people who will feed you some delicious local specialties , make you laugh and show you a great time. Mind you, it's an all-day activity, so if you do decide go on this adventure, plan to spend the night, having a blast on the riverbank , sitting around a campfire, feeling like you're miles away from civilization.
As you descend downstream, you will go though the canyon which is reflected in the mesmerizing blue/green color of Neretva .The scenery is breathtaking,don't forget to bring your camera.
- Water Sports
Scars of war
Everywhere you go, the signs of war are present, but if you look carefully, you will notice that the ruined buildings should be... the most beautiful in town.
Noticing that, I think that they started with the common buildings (easier and cheaper to rebuild) and are planning to rebuild the best ones according to their original look. That takes time, study, and... money. But if that is the idea, it gets my approval.
- Historical Travel
Blagaj - Tekija
I don't think this is as off the beaten track as it once was but people visiting Mostar still miss out on this interesting place. Blagaj is located around 12km away from Mostar and can be reached using local transport. Thre are various interesting things to see in Blagaj including the town itself and it's mosque and the Old Town of Blagaj...which we didn't have time to visit unfortunately. (The Old Town is sits on top of a steep rocky bluff overlooking the new town below.)
However, there is really two things people come to see in Blagaj, The Buna River Spring and the Dervish House or Tekija as it is properly referred to.
Tekija is a Muslim Monastery of sorts and dates from the end of the 15th century. the house serves as a prayer house and university for spiritual studies of this branch of Islam. Inside the monastery you can see the carpeted prayer rooms. (The one directly in front of you as you come around the top of the stairs has an ancient and beautifully carved wooden ceiling) Upstairs is also a stunning Turkish style bath house.
On the lower levels of the house is an interesting romm housing the graves of two famous Sheikhs of the house, Sari-Saltuk and Acik-Pasha. Not much is known of the contents of the graves and if indeed there are more graves underneath as it is forbidden to interrupt or excavate the grave site.
Please remember this is a very special and sacred place for this branch of Muslims. Visitors must be dressed appropriately...no shorts above the knees or sleeveless shirts. Women will be required to cover their heads and legs...Scarves and shawls will be provided for vistors...see my pic of Denise all decked out before entering the house :)
Very interesting trip to this spiritual and mystic place...Thanks to Holger (HORSCHECK) for the original tip. Until I read his informative tips I wouldn't have thought of coming here.
Kravice Waterfalls - Rope!!!
This is a well kept local secret. Walking away from the waterfalls through the wooden building on the river bank, you come to a small grassy clearing. Walk to the opposite side of the this clearing to the river bank and there you will find, hanging from a tree, a rope which locals have tied to a overreaching branch. Great fun to be had for all swinging from the rope and jumoing into the beautiful water below!!!!
A long branch is also left by the tree to retrieve the rope afterwards...just remember to leave the rope tied where you found it when finished.
The Spectacular Kravice Waterfalls are not entirely off the beaten track especially for visitors staying in Medjugorje, which is located nearby and from where you can catch a tour. Not a lot of people take this tour anyway so the falls are really only visited by locals. We did pass a small tour from Medjugorje but as they were mostly elderly they were happy enough to just enjoy the view from above and didn't actually go down to the falls.
However, for visitors staying in Mostar it is not as easy to reach and so people who visit Mostar often don't get a chance to get here. We were lucky enough, that the hostel (Majdas Hostel) we stayed in offered a great trip for guests of the hostel which included a visit to the falls. We were even luckier still that, although visiting on a beautifully warm day, we had the falls almost entirely to ourselves.
The stunning falls are located around 7 km from the small town of Ljubuski and are an amazing sight. The blue-green colour of the Neretva are mirrored in the water of the falls, where Trebizat River is broken into seperate channels which cascade overe a drop of over 30 metres in a semi circle of rock 140 metres wide. There are various walks behind the cascading water and small caves which can also be explored.
A little cold for swimming in April but that didn't stop us taking a dip to cool off from the hot sun. One of the highlights of our trip to the Herzegovina region.
Take a half-day trip to Blagaj
If you stay in Mostar for more than one day, then I would recommend you to also take a half-day trip to Blagaj, just about 10 km southeast of Mostar.
It is famous for the source of the river Buna, which is located in a cave at the bottom of a steep cliff.
Just next to it is a Dervish Monastery (Tekke) whose history dates back to the 15th century. Several large restaurants with outdoor terraces are lined up the river banks.
In the centre of Blagaj the 16th century Careva Mosque and an old Muslim cemetery are well worth seeing. The castle Stepjan Grad overlooks the area, but we didn't have the time to climb up the hill.
Blagaj can be reached by local bus from Mostar. The trip takes about 45 minutes. Buses #10 and #11 serve the route a few times per day. We asked at the Tourist Information for the timetable.
A convenient stop to get on the bus is the Spanish Square (Spanski trg) in Mostar. Tickets for 1,80 KM can be bought from the driver, who can also tell you where to get off.
- Budget Travel
There is the most amazing place outside of Mostar. It is a waterfall that appears as if from no where. It is beautiful and not so touristy. There is a small cafe there, but it is really off the beaten path. Getting there is a bit difficult as I had a local guide take me there. I stayed at Majda's Apartment Hostel and they took me, so you can ask them, give them some cash and they know right how to get there. It is worth it. I went swimming, althought it was quite cold in May, climbed around and behind the waterfall and got scared by the water snakes on the bottom of the clear water lagoon, which my guides told me was perfectly harmless.
Pocitelj's Hajji Alija Mosque is a beautiful, serene building. Looking at it now, it's hard to realize that, not so very long ago, it was a total ruin, its dome a shattered shell and its minaret snapped like a pencil, yet another victim of the war that raged through Bosnia-Herzegovina during the 1990s.
Built in 1562, the mosque is considered a very fine example of classical Ottoman style, perhaps the finest in BiH. As yet the restoration has only restored the fabric of the building, the delicate decoration that once adorned it has yet to come, but it is once again a functioning mosque and the cool cream interior of unplastered stone has its own appeal.
Visitors are welcome, with or without their shoes, though respect for Muslim observance should see them left by the door.
Lying 25km south of Mostar, clinging to the steep slopes above the Neretva River, the little town of Pocitelj, a tumble of old stone houses, domes and the tall minaret of its mosque all overlooked by a mediaeval fortress (photo 1), is a picture book scene - which makes it all the more poignant when you learn that this village saw one of the last acts of brutal ethnic cleansing and destruction of the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The last few years have seen the restoration of some of the the village's major buildings, the 16th century mosque and medressa and one of its beautiful old Ottoman houses (photo 2) - all of which are open to visitors.
First mention of the fortress here dates from 1444. Built by Hungarians as a defense against Ottoman raids, it fell to the invading Turks in 1471 and the town then remained under Turkish rule until 1888. The town's strategic importance faded when the region became part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the next few decades saw its population decline and many of its buildings fall into ruin. The establishment of an artist's colony (photo 3) in the 1960s brought artists, writers and poets here from all over Europe - until war came to this lovely place (photo 4).
Moves to restore the artist's colony were made in 1999 and the first artists came in 2003. Since then several houses have been rebuilt, a primary school has been established and more buildings are set for restoration.
We didn't buy a painting but we did buy some fruit from a basket (photo 5) that was a picture in itself in the way the fruit was wrapped and displayed.
- Road Trip
- Historical Travel
- Castles and Palaces
Talk to Locals
A game I love to play is 'guess the nationality.'
Whilst sitting at the local bar in Mostar watching people walk pass we tryed to guess where people are from, from their clothes and facial features. This is a great way to get talking to some really interesting people and get talking to locals, hear their stories and find out about what happened here.
Prenj Mountains were one of the basic logistic points of Partizans during World War II as it was surrounded by Neretva river and when the bridges on Neretva were demolished by Partizans it was impossible by Nazis to conduct military operations on Prenj.
The photo is taken from air.
One hour drive from Mostar: Kravice waterfall. No entry. Mainly local people go there, only a few tourist. Enjoy the great view, nice sound and smooth, warm water! You can climb on the rocks, just be careful some of them are slippery due to humidity. Take natural shower and use the natural jacuzzi, too!
- National/State Park
"We love Bosnia and Hertzegovina"
The text on the side of the hill on the outskirts of the town used to say "Tito volimute" but has been changed into "BiH volimute", "We love Bosnia and Hertzegovina". The figure below the two words represents the Old Bridge, after which the town is named .
Tekija Blagaj: Dervish Monastery
A Dervish Monastery creviced into a mountain where the river Bruna flows out of a cliff. Built in the 15th century, this monastery was home to Dervish monks. There are lots of old scriptures inside and is adorned with beautiful Islamic art. A very nice and quiet place to visit. Be sure to visit the nearby Muslim cementary on the way with new and old graves and surprisingly lots of turtles wandering around.
- Arts and Culture
- Historical Travel
Parts of old brige
On my way from the appartment to downtown Mostar, I came upon this part of the old bridge, laying on the grass. The bridge was restored a couple of years ago, to the same look it used to have.
(I will come back with the excact location, I dont have the Mostar map with me today.)
- Historical Travel
- Road Trip
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