Nevesinje : Gem of Eastern Herzegovina
January 1, 1970
by Mladen Duran
PACK YOUR BAGS
Wandering on the roads across the Balkans, I finally came to Nevesinje, a small town located in eastern Herzegovina, which is the southern part of a state named Bosnia and Herzegovina. My girlfriend told me about it as a very nice place, so I decided to visit it. Nevesinje is located above fertile valley of Neretva, and it is hidden from the warm and hot Mediterranean climate. For example, town of Mostar, which is just 20 km away, has its own climate, so different from Nevesinje.
Grebak hill with log church
Entire area has harsh and mountainous landscape, so familiar to me. I used to spend my summer holidays in the mountains of central Bosnia, so even as a stranger, I felt as on my home ground. The most prominent spot is the mountain Velež, which dominates on the entire landscape. This mighty mountain is an ideal place for climbing and extreme sports. It is named after old Slavic god Veles, master of woods and mountains. When you climb atop of the mountain, you will feel a unique feeling, mixed with the combination of fresh air and adrenaline. If you are lucky and if it is on a bright day, you can see the Adriatic Sea which is 250 km away. Velež is a mountain with diverse flora and fauna, so you can spend your day collecting rare species of mushrooms, or hunting for wild animals.
TURBULENT AND REBELLIOUS PAST
If you are a passionate explorer of history, Nevesinje is the right place to be. Name of this town originates from the Roman period, a derivate from words neue signe, meaning snowy desert. Snowy winters are common for this mountainous town, so this name makes sense. This part of the former Roman Empire was en route to the Eastern parts of the empire, with many military roads passing here. Some remnants of it are excavated in nearby village of Biograd.
Nevesinje is worldwide famous as a place where a rebellion known as Nevesinjska puška (Gun from Nevesinje) started. It was a mass movement of Christian people against Ottoman rule. It started as a local rebellion, but it rapidly spread all over the Balkan peninsula and caused war with Turkey. These occasions triggered the Great Eastern Issue, which ended Turkish rule in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as in the western part of Balkans. Nevesinje is a part of the historical province of Herzegovina, named after the title of mighty rulers in the southern parts of medieval Bosnian kingdom. You can find a clock tower in the centre of city. This town’s tower originates from the period of Ottoman rule. Go to the hills in the western part of the town and discover an old medieval castle. This castle is called Herzeg-Stjepan Tower, named after the mightiest ruler of province.
TRANSPORT AND COMMUNICATION
When you wish to visit Nevesinje, do not forget one significant fact – roads. This small town is located on a half way between the capital city of Sarajevo and the Adriatic Sea. Roads can often be tricky with unexpected curves, ups and downs, due to a specific terrain. All of this can be an excellent experience for those who loves adventure. View on the unique landscape will shorten your travel time and will make it more interesting. Other commodity that Nevesinje offers is the specific mountain climate, so you can easily switch between it and Mediterranean. Just take a two-hour drive and reach the cities of Trebinje or Dubrovnik or Herceg Novi on the Adriatic coast. Combination of mountains air,sun and the sea water will improve your health.
CHANCE FOR ADVENTURE
When planning your adventure in Nevesinje, consider specific geographical occasions which offer you plenty of chances. High mountains, such as Velež, are ideal for climbing, and smaller hills are comfortable terrain for hiking. Snowy winters are common for this part of Herzegovina, so if you spend your winter holidays here, enjoy in the winter idyll. Lack of arranged ski terrains, can be ideal for those who prefer free style skiing. Untouched meadows and forests are good terrain for it, so it offers an unexpected and unforgettable adventure.
Woods and forest around Nevesinje are rich in flora and fauna. I spend one whole day searching for mushrooms and wood fruits. Some species of mushrooms can be very rare and difficult to find, such as truffles. When we returned from the wood, then we made healthy juices of these fruits. Many of plants growing in the wood are very healthy and can be an excellent medicine in many cases of diseases.
Rich fauna is also one of the reasons to visit Nevesinje. Dense forested area on the outskirts of the town is a natural habitat for many species of wild animals, such as deer, bears, owls and wolves. Enjoy in hunting and have a close encounter with wild animals ( not for people with weak heart!).
Herzegovina is famous for its rocks and caves. One beautiful example of it is located in the village of Bišina. This cave is named Novakuša, after Old Novak, a rebel which fought against the Turks in the late 17th century. It is believed that the cave was his hiding spot when Turks were chasing him. One curiosity linked with this cave is that the cave has a spring of cold water during the summer droughts. Walls of cave are richly decorated with stalactite and stalagmite, so n do not forget to visit this cave.
CUSTOMS AND TRADITION
This part of the world has a turbulent and exciting past, often being targeted for by great powers and their interests, such as in the case of Nevesinjska puška, the great uprising of Christian people all over the Balkans. Today, as a reminder of this rebellious tradition, many cultural manifestations are being held. The most significant manifestation is called Nevesinjska olimpijada (Olimpic games of Nevesinje), which is held annually, and this tradition lasts for almost 200 years, what makes it older than the modern Olympic games. Competitions are held in the traditional sports, but the main event is the horse race, which can attract more than ten thousand spectators. All of this makes it this unique event one of largest traditional summits on the Balkan Peninsula.
Discover beauty of this area and spend unforgettable time in untouched nature, far away from the smog of big cities. You will never regret!