Its Mountain Setting, Waterfalls and Diverse Heritage Makes Bosnia and Herzegovina One of Europe’s Most Intriguing Destination
Last month I was invited by the Embassy of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Jakarta on a culture trip to explore the country. Situated on the Balkan Peninsula, Bosnia and Herzegovina are one of the last undiscovered regions of the southern Alps. The central Dinaric Alps are a hiker and walker paradise, while its countryside is home to wild and untouched nature with rich historical architectures and medieval villages that make it an ideal holiday destination.
Bosnia and Herzegovina are most intriguing for its East-meets-West atmosphere enchanted by both Mediterranean and Alpine climates. During my short trip, I had the opportunity to visit cities, town and mountain, namely Sarajevo, Banja Luka, Mostar, Blagaj, Trebevic, and Travnik. Apparently, this country is a melting pot of different cultures and religions which can be traced back to the Neolithic Period. In fact, there is a street where you can see a mosque, a synagogue, an orthodox and a Catholic church.
The one thing that sticks out in my mind when I think of travelling in Bosnia and Herzegovina is the people. They’re kind, welcoming, sincere and strong. And it’s unimaginable how their country got torn apart during the not-so-distant Yugoslav Wars. Today, visitors are likely to remember the country for its deep, unassuming human warmth, its beautiful mountains, numerous medieval castle ruins, rivers, and impressive waterfalls.
Restoran Fajic in Blagaj is an excellent choice for fish lovers, with the world-renowned trout being the signature-dish of the area. Other traditional Bosnian dishes can be sampled, while vegetarians and dessert lovers will also find plenty of choices. The best part about this restaurant is visitors can enjoy their meal in an outdoor setting with the view of Buna River.
Pliva Waterfalls (Jajce)
At 17 metres in height, the Pliva waterfall is one of the most notable features of Jajce. This natural monument is located in the very centre of the town and has been named one of twelve most beautiful waterfalls in the world. It is also the only waterfall in the world to create an estuary as it joins the Pliva River with the Vrbas River.
Mlinci, Watermills on the Pilva Lake
Mlincici watermills are located on the Pliva River, 5 km outside of the Jajce town centre. The twenty watermills sit upon a limestone partition that separates the Great and Small Pliva lakes. Dating back to the Middle Ages, these watermills demonstrate the historical architecture style and carpentry techniques of the region.
Ethno Villafge Čardaklije
Today in Čardaklije the locals are still working and living as their ancestors 150 years ago. Located close to Bosanski Petrovac, in the village of Vrtoče, Ethno Village Čardaklije offers a sanctuary to rest in the resorts and enjoy traditional food and drink in anethnic atmosphere. Far from the hustle and bustle of city and town life, away from modern technology visitors can exchange everyday routines with enjoyment in nature, listening to birdsong, and the footsteps of horse hooves.
Authentic Balkan Cuisine
Bosnian Style Baklava
Baklava is a rich, sweet pastry made of several, often ten, layers of filo-pastry filled with chopped nuts and bread crumbs. In Bosnia and Herzegovina baklava is traditionally considered a special cake, and is made for holidays such as Eid, Christmas and other special occasions.
Ćevapi is the national grilled speciality and one of the most famous Bosnian brands abroad. Ćevapi is a small dumpling made of minced meat, mostly beef, with the addition of garlic, onion and different spices.
Bosnian cheese pie or pita sirnica is one of the popular pastries enjoyed not only in Bosnia but across the Balkan peninsula. Its a three-cheese stuffed flaky filo pastry dough baked and enjoyed as an appetizer, snack, or a main course
Baščaršija is the main tourist attraction of Sarajevo. Located in the very heart of the city, this bazaar is one of Sarajevo’s oldest wards as well as a well-preserved example of oriental architecture in the Balkans. At one time, each street was dedicated to a different kind of craft—metalwork, jewelry, pottery, and so on.
Ferhat Pasha Mosque
Also known as the Ferhadija Mosque, is a central building in the city of Banja Luka and one of the greatest achievements of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s 16th century Ottoman Islamic architecture in Europe. The mosque was demolished in 1993 at the order of the authorities of Republika Srpska, and was rebuilt and opened in 2016. The ensemble of the Ferhadija Mosque consisted of the mosque itself, the courtyard, a graveyard, the fountain, 3 mausoleums and the surrounding wall with the gate.
Sarajevo Old Town, Seher Cehaja Bridge over Miljacka River
Šeher Ćehaja Bridge is a bridge which crosses the River Miljacka in Sarajevo. It can be translated as “Mayor’s Bridge” from Turkish work for mayor. During the Ottoman rule, 13 bridges were built in Sarajevo. One of the most impressive ones is Šeher Ćehaja Bridge. The only written document indicating the year of the erection of the bridge is transcript of the chronogram in Mostar indicating it was built in the 15th century.
Sarajevo Old Town Centre
The cobblestone alleys of the old town date back to Ottoman rule in the 15th century. Today, the area is full of restaurants, gift shops and cafés where visitors can sit and watching people while enjoying a cup of traditional Bosnian coffee and piece of sweet baklava or grab a photo with the flock of pigeons in front of the old fountain.
Pino Nature Hotel
Bosnia and Herzegovina is one of the few countries in the world that can brag about having a mountain in the heart of its capital, the beautiful Trebevic mountain only 10 minutes’ drive from Sarajevo. A unique blend of lifestyle, Bosnian originality, warmth, sportiness and recreation turn the Pino Nature Hotel into a special location in the mountain Trebevic at 1070 meters above sea level. The 24 rooms and suites radiate natural warmth and contemporary comfort with a unique view of the nature and Trebevic mountain.
Herbal Spa in Sarajevo
A must visit Herbal Spa in Sarajevo offers full relaxation experience with over 100 treatments for well-being. With elements of eastern innovation, exotic fragrances and natural products, a visit to Herbal Spa will revive your spirit and awaken your senses. The services include both cosmetic and therapeutic designed to provide full body care based on natural products use. Herbal Spa professional physiotherapist staff provides “a touch of healing” and energy restoration to each client.
Medugorje, the Third Largest Christian Pilgrimage After Lourdes and Fatima
Međugorje is a town located in the Herzegovina region of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Since 1981, it has become a popular site of Catholic pilgrimage due to Our Lady of Međugorje, an alleged series of apparitions of the Virgin Mary to six local children that are still happening to this day. Medjugorje has become one of the most popular pilgrimage sites for Catholics in the world and has turned into Europe’s third most important apparition site, where each year more than 1 million people visit
Blagaj Tekke, Sufi Dervish Monastery
Blagaj Tekke, just 6 km from Mostar, was built for the Sufi Dervish and is considered one of the most mystical places in all of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Built around 1520 with elements of Ottoman architecture and Mediterranean style, Blagaj Tekke still kept its original purpose, as holy and religious place. For centuries now, dervishes from Sufi brotherhood pray and perform services.
Museum of Ivo Andric
Thousands of tourists visit Travnik every year, primarily to see the birthplace of the literary Nobel Prize-winner Ivo Andrić, visit his birth house transformed into a memorial museum, and look for the features and symbols that the great writer mentions in his works, such as Bosnian Chronicle and The Bridge on the Drina, which go on to become a required reading in Yugoslavian high schools, and Andrić would become a celebrity in Communist Yugoslavia. The permanent exhibition at the Memorial House of Ivo Andrić presents life and literature of the Nobel Prize-winner and consists of a birth room dedicated to the novel Bosnian Chronicle, photographs from the Nobel Prize Award Ceremony, and a library with an art collection.
The Ottomans brought copperware into fashion in Bosnia. For centuries, artisans designed and crafted objects into plates, coffee pots and ornaments. Walk through Coppersmith Street in Sarajevo’s Bascarsija or Mostar’s cobbled streets leading up the Stari Most and listen to the clank, clank, clank of the hammer. Admire their designs and craftsmanship or hunt for a special Bosnian souvenir to take home.
Počitelj is historic village and an open-air museum located in the municipality of Čapljina, in the Herzegovina-Neretva Canton of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It represents one of the few urban ensembles that were preserved in their integrity to the present times. It was also developed through the several phases of the history beginning with the medieval period. Its significant strategic role from the 13th to 17th century gave its inhabitants the power to build one of the most important, and best preserved ensembles within the city walls in the region.
Sarajevo City Hall
Sarajevo City Hall known as Vijećnica is the most extravagant building constructed in Sarajevo during Austro-Hungarian occupation and serves as a symbol of meeting of world civilizations. The City Hall was solemnly opened in 1896, used for governing and administrative purposes. After the Second World War City Hall was put on disposal to the National Library and remains in that function until the aggression against BiH. In1992, it was hit by flammable artillery missiles that destroys the City Hall, together with the huge library fund of the National-University Library. The reconstructed City hall is officially completed in 2014 on Day of Europe and the Day of Victory over Fascism.
Istiklal Mosque (Dzamija Istiklal)
Istiklal Mosque in Otoka, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina is one of the largest mosques in the city. It was named after Istiqlal Mosque, Jakarta, the national mosque of Indonesia, since the mosque was funded by Indonesian people and Suharto’s government for Bosnia and Herzegovina as a token of solidarity and friendship between two nations.
Eko Selo Natura Art at Bihac
Bihać is a city situated on the banks of river Una in north-western Bosnia and Herzegovina, in the Bosanska Krajina region. This destination is surrounded by some of the most breathtaking scenery and nature such as the Eko Selo Natura Art or ecological village, which is a new concept that offers sustainable resources, local food, and history. This village is a gem where visitors can find rare animals, beautiful water fall, and clear water.
Sebilj Fountain, Bascarsija Street
The first water supply system was built in the mid 15th century, and significantly extended in the 16th century. By the end of the Ottoman period, there were 156 spouts and several stone fountains built mainly as an endowment. Sebilj Fountain is a symbol of Sarajevo. A legend says: “Whoever drinks water from any of Sarajevo’s fountains and spouts will come to Sarajevo”. The Sebilj Fountain was built in 1753.