Thursday, October 15, 2009
Mostar and the surroundings
The city of Mostar is situated in a beautiful valley bedded between high mountains of Herzegovina. It is thanks to the river Neretva that Mostar was able to develop as a city in the desert-like landscape of Herzegovina. Neretva’s size turned Mostar very early in to a trading centre of the region. What makes this city known is it’s famous bridge. The Old Bridge was built by the Ottoman empire in 1565. It was the great architect Mimar Hajrudin who had succeded with the impossible mission to cross the Neretva river with a single span stone bridge. Mostar got its name after that same Bridge, or more precisely after the bridge keepers. They used to guard the bridge and were called “Mostari”, thereby the city got its name. Mostar’s population in 2003 was 105,448. With its hot summers and mild winters, Mostar is also one of Europe’s sunniest cities.
Handicraftsmen played a huge part in Mostar’s development in the early years of its existence, and have continued to do so even today. Now they have one of the key roles in the city’s tourist offer. On the left bank of Neretva we can find Kujundžiluk. The name came from Kujundžije or in English “coppersmiths”. This is a tradition very well preserved even today. Unlike then you can now find them everywhere in the old town and not only in Kujundžiluk, as well as you can find other kinds of shops in kujundziluk that are not necessarily coppersmiths. The Koski Mehmed paša Mosque, built in 1617 is open to visitors. Visitors may enter the mosque and take photos free of charge. The minaret is also open to the public and is accessible from inside the mosque. Just around the corner from the mosque is the Tepa Market. This has been a busy marketplace since Ottoman times. It now sells mostly fresh produce grown in Herzegovina and, when in season, the figs and pomegranates are extremely popular. Local honey is also a prominent specialty, being produced all around Herzegovina. Kriva Ćuprija is a stone one-arch bridge of small dimension and closely resembles the Stari Most. The arch is a perfect semicircle 8.56 m in width and 4.15 m in height. The frontage and vault are made of regular stone cubes incorporated into the horizontal layers all along the vault. The space between vault, frontal walls and footpath is filled with cracked stone. The bridge footpath and the approaching roads are paved with cobblestones, as is the case with the main roads in the town. Stone steps enable people to ascend to the bridge either side. A synagogue was also recently built in the city. The city is home to a monument.
Muslibegovića House provide an ideal example of Mostar's grand houses of the Ottoman period, built for merchants and landowners in a highly sophisticated way by blending Turkish and regional styles. Where many such traditional residencies once graced the streets of Mostar, now only a handful remains. Muslibegovica House stands out further because it has remained in the hands of a single family since its construction, throughout the city's glorious periods of economic prosperity and dark days of war.
The small town called Blagaj is located 12 km south of Mostar. This is the largest karst spring in Europe and it gives rise to Buna river. The river emerges from an underground stream after it carved its way through the irregular limestone commonly found in this part of Europe. The sight is breathtaking with the cold green river rushing out of a cave under a towering cliff. Interestingly, perhaps because of its southern facing location or because it is in the wind shadow the temperature here is always mild, even in the midst of winter. It is believed that the Muslim monastery (Tekija) was founded in the 16th century at the source of the river Buna by the dervishes of Helvetian order. According to the chronicle of Evlija Celebija, there was a Moslem monastery (tekija) in the 17th century, at the source of Buna, built for dervishes.
This once-charming mediaeval town is situated in the valley of the Neretva River some twenty - five kilometers from Mostar, on the route to the Adriatic Sea. The history of Počitelj is not well known and has to be researched. As far as we know, it existed in 1444 as a fortress supported by Hungary. Turks took it over in 1471 and it became an important part of the Ottoman Empire. The town's principal mosque is built by Hadži Alija in 1563. From the beginning of the 18th century Pocitelj was the seat of the captaincy and in 1782 it became the seat of the county. A seventeenth-century enclosing wall marks the height of the town's growth. At the time, there was in the town an elementary school (mekteb), a secondary theological school (medresa) and also public baths (hammam) and an inn for travelers (han). The town was constructed right into a rocky mountainside overlooking a bend in the Neretva River.
Međugorje is a village in the Herzegovina municipality of Čitluk, today part of the Herzegovina-Neretva Canton of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It has become famous because of a series of reported sightings of the Virgin Mary, to six young people. Međugorje is currently one of the biggest Marian shrines in the world. With the apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary on 24th June 1981, this place has become the destination of the pilgrims from all over the world.
Žitomislić is а monastery of the Serb Orthodox Church located near Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Its church is dedicated to the Annunciation of the Mother of God.In 1566 the Ottoman Empire, as represented by the kadija (qadi) in Nevesinje, granted the Miloradović Hraben family a permit to build monastery at Žitomislić over the ruins of an ancient Serbian church. The monastery took more than forty years to complete with the first reference to monks at Žitomislić in 1606. The monastery boasted a highly artistic iconostasis, and housed a scriptorium of considerable activity and renown in its time. At the height of its existence the monastery was supported by large land holdings worked by the monks themselves
Stolac is a town situated on the very east of the Herzegovina-Neretva Canton. It is a town built on the banks of the «The Deep Blue River» Bregava surrounded by the mountains of Hrgud and Vidovo Polje with the surrounding places written down by the rich pen of the cultural past.
Their most remarkable feature is their decorative motifs, many of which remain enigmatic to this day. Spirals, arcades, rosettes, vine leaves and grapes, suns and crescent moons are among the images that appear. Figural motifs include processions of deer, dancing the kolo, hunting and, most famously, the image of the man with his right hand raised, perhaps in a gesture of fealty. The most beautiful of the stecci graveyards is that at Radimlja, near Stolac. Although identified in the past with the Bosnian Church (with its supposedly Bogomil beliefs), all evidence points to the fact that stecci were erected by adherents of the Orthodox, Catholic and Bosnian churches alike.
This natural park is a Mediterranean wetland situated near Capljina (Herzegovina). It is an important bird area and there are 235 species officially listed. This area is considered very important for feeding and resting birds during their autumn migration to Africa. Hutovo Blato is also an important habitat for the nesting of some globally endangered species, , as well as for a number of species which spend the winter in wet locations.
Great white Egret is a symbol of Hutovo Blato
With its sub-Mediterranean and Mediterranean climate, Herzegovina is a region where Mediterranean fruit and vegetables thrive. Many think of it as the “California” of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Grape vine, fig, peach, tangerine, apple, pomegranate, olive and other varieties, as well as medicinal herbs such as sage, heather, immortelle, etc., grow here. It’s exactly because of this mild climate that Herzegovina is the biggest and single grapes and wine producer in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Two autochthonous varieties, Žilavka and Blatina, have long ago acclimated to the region and yield crops and quality like nowhere else. Herzegovina is the land of sun and stone, and its glades and vales are covered by low and high vegetation, such as brambles, oak tree, ash, common maple, juniper, and pine trees. This environment provides to each passer by unforgettable views pleasant for the eye and the soul.
Blatina is an autochthonous variety of Herzegovina. It has a functional female flower (auto-sterile), and for that reason it is always cultivated in plantations with other varieties such as Allicante bouschet (Kambuša), Merlot, and Trnjak, which at the same time pollinate Blatina. During the period of insemination, because of the rain, it can fail in giving fruits, and it is then called „praznobačva“ (emptybarrel). Blatina is a quality and in specific locations a high quality dry red wine, produced with the variety of grapes that has the same name.
It is very difficult to give an exact answer about the origin of the name Zilavka, but it can be logically assumed that its name symbolizes fine veins, visible in the period of the full maturity of grapes in the berry, through its thick but transparent skin. Its attribute, „hercegovačka“ seems to want to express its unique grandeur, delicacy, boon, and abundance, as if to redeem the concern and effort of the wine growers. It also symbolizes the region of Herzegovina, where it grew, formed its characteristics, assimilated and identified with the sunny and karst ambience of Herzegovina.