If you are dreaming of an active summer holiday in a relatively untouristy destination somewhere in southern Europe, there is no better choice than heading to Bosnia & Herzegovina. Can you picture the glittering sandy beaches and dazzlingly blue sea, together with the rich archaeological sites? If yes, then you are about to discover Europe’s biggest sea secret. A perfect blend of all ingredients essential for a dynamic vacation, this is why Neum, Bosnia’s sole sea resort, is an ideal choice for all savvy travelers. So, when swimming and sunbathing is just not enough, the hinterlands of the Bosnian Adriatic coast offer an ultimate escape from the sea. You will be surprised by how much history is buried into the Neum’s outback.
Perhaps it never crossed your mind, but Bosnia & Herzegovina is also a Mediterranean country. Unlike other Adriatic destinations, this country is still off the travelers’ radar, and remains out-of-the-beaten-track, which is actually good news for most of you. Not only you will be among the rare visitors, but you will also be totally spoiled for a choice. If you are driving in the inland area behind Neum, odds are you are going to come across countless Bosnian medieval tombstones called “stećci”. Only two kilometers from Neum, there is a small village with a necropolis that belonged to the Nikolić family, who ruled this area between 13th-15thcentury. It is an interesting fact that the motif of a hawk that we can see on those tombstones is also an official emblem of the municipality of Neum. Another two necropolises with more than 100 stećci are located not far from the Hutovo settlement.
Only a short drive from Neum you can find the first settlement in the hinterland, a small village called Hutovo. If you are a lover of old ruins, you must see Hadžibegova Kula Fortress. This ancient stone citadel, which is visible from the road, was built by the Ottomans to defend their western front from the Venetians. Besides the fort, one can find a traditional village house with the authentic and old artefacts. Nestled between the mountains, Hutovo also hides “Lapidarium”, a sort of an open-air museum with many valuable historical stone monuments. Among others, worth mentioning is the Radovčev inscription from 1425.
If you continue the journey of discovering the hinterlands of the Bosnian Adriatic coast, and you head towards the east, the next stop is Hrasno, a small place located on the crossroads between Neum and Stolac. This area has been known for its tobacco plantations ever since. Nowadays, it consists of mainly elderly households. What put this place on a map is a tiny hinterland shrine of the Queen of Peace, so if you are into pilgrimages, you shouldn’t miss this sanctuary while in the region. Placed behind the hill Gradina, the shrine is somehow hidden, so be careful when around. If you are not looking for a church to pray, this place also houses the art gallery and ethnographic museum with more than 300 objects used in previous centuries. If you keep going towards the east, some amazing hidden treasures are awaiting you: the Provence of Bosnia & Herzegovina and the Trebišnjica River, the longest sinking river in the world, as well as the Vjetrenica Cave, the largest grotto in the country.
*Photo credits to: Via Dinarica Blue Trail
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