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Herzegovina: The Flip Side of Bosnia

Most people skip the mouthful of words that is Bosnia & Herzegovina, instead going for the shortened form of Bosnia. The two territories have had an on again/off again relationship over the past thousand years, sometimes grouped together sometimes not. Since gaining their independence from the former Yugoslavia the two have forged a permanent bond as a country.

The difference between Bosnia and Herzegovina is evident in their geography. As you head south the rich green hills of Bosnia give way to rockier, more arid crags. The people are just as charming though, and the small region is full of interesting sights:

Mostar, a gorgeous medieval city, was on the front lines of the Bozniak-Croat conflict. The city was completely devastated. Many residents consider the low point of the war to be when the great 16th century ottoman bridge; symbol of the city, was blown up. As I wrote about previously, the bridge has since been rebuilt as a symbol of peace.

About an hour from Mostar is the former artist colony of Počitelj. Built by the ottomans in the 16th century Počitelj was an artist’s colony and retreat until a bloody bombing and ethnic cleansing campaign by Croat forces in 1992. There are still some beautiful stone buildings and mosques left from the oldest artist’s colony in Southern Europe. At the top of the hill is a decaying stone fortress that you can climb right up inside- safety be damned.

Horses grazing in overgrown roman ruins from the first century AD.

Kravice Falls, “the Bosnian Niagara falls.” Although nowhere near as epic as Niagara, the falls were impressive, stunning and completely deserted.  With no one to stop us we plunged into the freezing water and swam right up, and underneath the crashing falls.

Surprisingly, the number one tourist attraction in BiH is not Sarajevo, or even Mostar, but  a small town called Međugorje, near the Croatian border. In 1981 the Virgin Mary appeared to six Croatian teenagers in the hills by the town. Now thousands of Catholics every year, mainly Irish from the look of the tour buses, make pilgrimages to visit Our Lady of Međugorje. There is a large modern cathedral, plenty of tour bus parking and gift shops that sell just about any religious paraphernalia imaginable. A few days before our visit a statue of the Virgin was said to have cried real tears.

The dervish monastery at Blagaj was of the most beautiful and peaceful places I have visited in my life. The 15th century tekija sits at the base of an absolutely enormous rock face. Next to the little white building is the source of the Buna River. We were encouraged to drink straight from the holy stream and I’ve never tasted water that clear and delicious before or since. I’m not a religious person but this was truly a holy place.

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23 Responses to Herzegovina: The Flip Side of Bosnia

  1. Cameron Hurd May 16, 2010 at 2:25 PM #

    Steph,

    Those pictures look absolutely beautiful. Props for the short history lesson & inspiration.

    • Steph May 17, 2010 at 9:51 AM #

      Thanks! It’s hard to take a bad picture there.

  2. Travelogged May 16, 2010 at 9:50 PM #

    Gorgeous photos — I’d love to go there one day!
    .-= Travelogged´s last blog ..Cinco de Mayo Edition: Top 5 Places I Want to Visit in Mexico =-.

    • Steph May 17, 2010 at 9:51 AM #

      I really want to go back…

  3. Matt May 16, 2010 at 9:50 PM #

    Beautiful photos, Steph. Thanks for sharing. Bosnia is definitely on my list for my next trip to Europe.
    .-= Matt´s last blog ..Friday Travel Photo: Istanbul Sunset =-.

    • Steph May 17, 2010 at 9:51 AM #

      success!

  4. ross May 17, 2010 at 5:23 AM #

    Great article just learned a lot more about Herzegovina, would love to visit it one day.

    Ross
    .-= ross´s last blog ..Stuart Foskett from Monarch Airlines Q&A on Berlin =-.

    • Steph May 17, 2010 at 9:52 AM #

      All of Bosnia is just amazing. I can’t wait to go back one day.

  5. Marilyn_Res May 17, 2010 at 8:16 AM #

    Thanks Steph for this glimpse into a corner of the world most travelers ignore. I love your photo of the sun shining on the horse’s back, and that spectacular waterfall I never heard of. Happy trails!

    • Steph May 17, 2010 at 9:52 AM #

      Thanks Marilyn! I really love the Balkans for that very reason.

  6. Gray May 17, 2010 at 10:14 AM #

    Lovely photos, Steph. What a pretty place.
    .-= Gray´s last blog ..Shiny Travel Objects: May 16, 2010 =-.

  7. ash May 17, 2010 at 11:27 AM #

    I love it when you post about anywhere in the Balkans. This made me happy. I can’t wait to go!

    • Steph May 17, 2010 at 12:32 PM #

      Thanks! Check back later this week for a big round-up post of everything I’ve written on the Balkans thus far!

  8. Candice May 17, 2010 at 2:36 PM #

    Oooh, the waterfalls!
    .-= Candice´s last blog ..The Best Dive Pub Ever Found, the Inn of Olde =-.

  9. ehalvey May 17, 2010 at 10:01 PM #

    Ooh, Međugorje, spelled no where close to how it’s pronounced. Since I’m Catholic, it’s up there on places to go. But the Great Pyramids and Petra are ahead of it-I’m such a heathen.
    .-= ehalvey´s last blog ..The Curry Project 2.0 =-.

    • Steph May 17, 2010 at 11:22 PM #

      I felt like such a bad lapsed Catholic for never having heard of it! Not th prettiest place in all of Bosnia but certainly interesting.

      • ehalvey May 18, 2010 at 4:59 PM #

        I only know of it from my grandma and mother in law. It’s more of the oddity factor than anything.

  10. Tom Volpe May 18, 2010 at 3:30 AM #

    Excellent post and the pictures are unreal! Anything that makes more people aware of what a great place to visit Bosnia is has to be a good thing. The people are so friendly and the country itself is amazing. Thanks!

  11. edin November 21, 2010 at 10:14 AM #

    beaufitul !!

  12. Krista February 8, 2011 at 2:47 PM #

    Absolutely gorgeous photos. 🙂 Driving through Bosnia was one of my favorite trips through Europe. The beauty of the countryside absolutely delighted me. 🙂

  13. Susan July 19, 2012 at 6:22 AM #

    Your post has inspired us to go there in Oct this year!! My sister said Medugorije is a weird place- saying she could definitely feel something there. That water sounds nice!! Thanks!

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