Imagine a throng of historically-abundant towns brimming with rustic bridges, little cobbled alleyways, scattered hole-in-the-wall cafés overlooking picturesque backdrops and outrageously welcoming people. Sounds like your cup of tea? Look no further than the mesmerising country of Bosnia & Herzegovina. Home to thousands of luscious valleys surrounded by craggy mountains and sloping hills, its cuisine consists mainly of rich, juicy barbequed meat. Touted by many as one of the most tranquil holiday destinations available to mankind, it is the perfect place to unwind over the summer without having to deal with incandescent crowds. Here are 3 quaint little towns in Bosnia & Herzegovina with a tinge of historical twists that are bound to capture your imagination.
Sarajevo Old Town
Situated in the charming municipality of the Stari Grad (Old City) in the Bosnian capital, lies Sarajevo Old Town. Here, we will find droves of fruit stalls, cute little bakeries and an abundance of cosy cafés lining the streets. Locals and tourists chat amicably as the inviting aroma of roasted coffee wafts through the air. One quickly ceases to be alarmed at the boisterous screeches reverberating through the streets – courtesy of the city’s clamorous, albeit rather trusty tram making its umpteenth journey through the heart of town.
Past its tracks lie the nostalgic cobbled streets of the Baščaršija (old town market). A whole bunch of bronze artefacts and metal trinkets can be found here as irresistible kebab stalls line the outer area of this traditional town. A short 3 minutes’ walk outside of the Baščaršija will find you surveying the very bridge on which World War I was triggered – the infamous assassination point of former Archduke of Austria, Franz Ferdinand.
Our next town is an hour’s drive away from the capital. Surrounded by splendorous snow-capped mountains and overlooking the chilly Neretva river (coldest river in the world), it is really the view on the ‘old bridge’ that takes breaths away. For the adventurous at heart, an arrival in summer should most definitely entail a scenic rafting experience beginning just metres away from this old bridge and ending somewhere downstream of the magical Neretva. Surrounded with recluse cafes and charming restaurants, the biggest attraction in this seemingly meek town is actually a nonchalant bunker buried deep into the side of Mountain Zlata – just minutes’ drive away from the town of Konjic. The cost of architecting this bunker you ask? A whopping USD 4.6 billion.
Built by Tito (Yugoslavian military leader) during the peak of his reign, this immense bunker was engineered over a period of 26 years to provide refuge for the ruling class in the event of nuclear attacks. Fortunately, it was never utilised. Today, works of artists from around Bosnia congregates its chambers, providing artsy refuge from the bunker’s sobering tunnels.
The last of these 3 quaint little towns has guaranteed a lasting impact on tourists and locals alike. About another hour’s drive south of Konjic, this majestic haven of rest emits a serenity that few places in the world can attest to. The first stop in this charming little town should be the Blagaj fort. A simple, though winding 15 minute ascend – aptly dubbed the Blagaj serpentine trail is the first and only milestone. At the top, one can witness a sweeping view of the town’s panorama and a rather precarious highway slit into the side of mountainous wild goat terrain.
Somewhere below lies the highlight of the town – an astoundingly beautiful monastery nestled into the side of a magnificent cliff with a cascading waterfall at its feet. The reflective edge of its waters casting shimmers of light on the walls of the mythical monastery nearby. Home to dervishes from the 15th century through to the 20th century, these kind and gentle devotees were cruelly evicted from their sanctuary under communist rule in 1952. A twist that not many come to expect is that the deceivingly ‘ancient-looking’ monastery was only rebuilt 8 years ago! This made it the 7th official overhaul on the monastery over a period of 5 centuries..