Sightseeing around Mostar

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4/5

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Things to do

Location

Sightseeing around Mostar

Date of travel

June, 2019

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As we were staying in the relatively small city of Mostar for three nights, we had the opportunity to visit some of the surrounding sights.

“MEDJUGORJE”:https://www.medjugorje.org/ – for the uninitiated, and I was one of them, Medjugorje, is the second-largest Catholic pilgrimage site in the World. In 1981, six teenagers reported seeing an apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in the hills. However, it’s a controversial place as the Pope has not recognised it as an official site, yet this doesn’t stop thousands of people flocking here. Having parked up we walked down the main street awash with souvenir shops bearing all manner of religious artefacts, and ‘Paddy Tours’ buses parked all over. At the modern church, a mass in Italian was taking place and people were lining up in the aisle as several priests delivered the communion wafer to the worshippers (and it was not yet 10am on a weekday). We noticed the colourful stained-glass windows on each side before tiptoeing out, where we saw a sign indicating the 15 languages Mass is spoken in. Outside, and to one side were lots of benches where the service could be relayed and at the rear of the church, yet more seats, a huge stage with large TV screens at either side and a building for confessions in various languages. We didn’t have time to climb Apparition Hill but were told many devoted pilgrims climb the stony path on their knees or barefoot.

“KRAVICA WATERFALL”:https://www.kravice.com/ – these spring from the Trebizat River and are the largest in Bosnia and Herzegovina stretching 100m across and tumbling down 25m. We walked down a relatively steep path and steps to the bottom where eventually we could hear, see and feel the spray. We walked along a shoreline and found one restaurant out of service due to the flooding. We walked through a second on higher ground to a picnic and camping area and took a different route back. This was less steep, but longer and afforded different views of the waterfalls on one side, and grassy banks full of wildflowers on the other. For 2 Marks/90p you can get a small ‘tractor train’ up and down. Despite the weather forecast predicting showers all day, it was warm and sunny with lovely white fluffy clouds in the sky.

“MOGORJELO”:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mogorjelo – was a Roman Villa built in the 1st century but burned down in the 2nd. In the 4th century a property was built over the ruins, but again this was destroyed and lay in ruins until the 8th century when two churches were built inside the ruins. It is now in ruins again. At the entrance were carved blocks on either side and one of the most interesting features was a huge Roman wine press. Wildflowers abounded once again, including a plethora of poppies. We were told that open-air concerts are held in summer. By now it was starting to spot with rain.

“POCITELJ”:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Počitelj,_Čapljina – is a steeply layered Ottoman inspired fortress village and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was impacted during the war and has been rebuilt. The former artistic community has now returned with many Bosnian artists working there because of the peace and beauty. We passed a hammam with the small domes on top providing light. We walked some of the way up the steps to the fortress but it was beginning to rain which made the smooth stones steps very slippery so we turned around after viewing the Sisman-Ibrahim Pasha’s Madrasa with its dome.

We set off in very heavy rain for the 40-minute drive to Blagaj. On route we passed the Mostar airport which in former times was used by the Yugoslavian air force to store Migs in hangars built into the hills so they were just a few hundred yards from the runway.

“BLAGAJ”:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blagaj – the source of the Buna River is near the town and having driven down a narrow path running along the river, we parked and walked the short distance to “Restoran Vrelo”:http://www.restoranvrelo.com/. It had stopped raining by now, and we decided to sit near the noisy water falls on a covered terrace. Some of the tables were totally out of commission as the water was so high. We had a tuna salad with beans and a chicken curry and I finished with hurmasica (a date shaped pastry soaked in a very sweet syrup sauce).

After lunch we crossed a bridge on the river and walked to the “Dervish Tekija”:http://tekijablagaj.ba/ (a house or monastery) built in a cliff at the side of the river. Having taken off shoes and covered my head with a scarf, we went into the beautiful building with whitewashed walls and lots of dark wood. There were numerous small rooms with colourful mats on the floor. We saw the loo, the basin (overlooking the river) and a small hammam its domed roof studded with coloured glass stars. We were told it would have had underfloor heating as it was above the kitchen. We went back over the bridge and walked a short distance to the cave which afforded great views of the Tekija. As this is spring water it can be drunk.

Despite our mixed weather, we managed to squeeze in, and enjoy a lot of very different sights into one day.

Helen Jackson

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