HERZEGOVINA HIGHLIGHTS: POČITELJ, KRAVICE WATERFALLS AND MEDJUGORJE

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  Tourists who spend their holidays on the Dalmatian Coast or Dubrovnik Riviera, and even those who plan a longer stay in Mostar, have the opportunity to make an interesting day trip to three special highlights in Bosnia and Herzegovina. These tourist attractions can be found close to each other, 30-40 km southwest of Mostar and at a short distance from Metković, i.e. the Bosnian-Croatian border.

p2We started the trip with a visit of Počitelj, a unique medieval settlement in Ottoman style, built on a hill that dominates the riverbed of the Neretva River. It was recently reconstructed and is now listed as a UNESCO heritage site. The most important sites of Počitelj are the Hadži-Alija Mosque, a medresa, hamam and a silo-shaped fortress on the top of the hill (photo 1). The well-preserved old stone houses (photo 2) certainly contribute to the unique Oriental atmosphere of the town.

While we were walking down the narrow cobbled streets, the inhabitants offered us souvenirs, but also fruit and other home-made products. Climbing the steep stone stairs, we visited the beautiful mosque and finally also explored the mysterious fortress, from which we had a magnificent view of the surroundings.

p3The spectacular Kravice Waterfalls are situated 7 km south of Ljubuški (follow the road from Čapljina to Ljubuški and you can’t miss the signpost). I was really surprised to see these stunning falls (photo 3), as I had never heard or read about them before. They are absolutely amazing! This is the place where the Trebižat River, with its limestone deposits, is divided into separate currents, which cascade over a drop of more than 30 meters in a semi-circle of rocks that is 140 m wide. The cold and clear water is emerald green; grass, moss and lichen grow on the tuff deposits and create a unique ambiance (photo 4).

After walking down from the parking lot, we found a place on the terrace of a small restaurant, where we could enjoy the view and relax by listening to the rumbling from the waterfalls. It was nice and fresh in the shade, as vaporized water particles created a cool mist in the valley. Many people enjoyed a swim in the cold water and local teenagers climbed the rocks and jumped down. We did not see or hear a single foreign tourist, which means that these waterfalls have not been discovered yet. I think they are gorgeous! Don’t miss them when you travel around this region!

p4The third highlight we visited was, of course, the famous Catholic pilgrimage site Medjugorje. Its story is well-known: in 1981 six teenagers were playing together in the hills near Medjugorje, where Mother Mary appeared and spoke to them. The apparitions did not cease: Mother Mary appeared again and again to them with special messages for the believers. It is estimated that over 15 million people have visited this sleepy village in Herzegovina, so that it has become the second largest Catholic pilgrimage site in the world. However, there has been much controversy over the legitimacy of the visions and apparitions, so that the Pope has not recognized Medjugorje as an official pilgrimage site. But nevertheless, millions of faithful Catholics from all over the world visit the place and its sacred spots and many amazing testimonies suggest that miracles are a regular occurrence here.

p5I must admit: I was not impressed… Of course, it is true, I am not a Catholic. But as far as I can see, Medjugorje has become a commercial center with countless shops and restaurants. Ugly souvenirs, huge and tiny sculptures of Mary, pillows with Mary’s picture, T-shirts with Mary’s portrait, calendars, necklaces, wooden crosses, Catholic books and DVD’s, candles – everything is for sale. The place is crowded and the prices are high. We also entered the central church, which is simple and not particularly attractive (photo 6). The mass was held in Croatian; there are dozens of  “cabins” for people, who want to make a confession in all possible languages…

But I admit, I also saw people who were deeply touched and obviously found consolation in their prayers (photo 5). I just don’t understand …

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