If you plan road tripping in Bosnia & Herzegovina, particularly between the capital city Sarajevo and the third largest city of the country Tuzla, you will definitely pass through the place called Kladanj, known as the home of winged girls. It is a town that genuinely evokes the bygone epochs and takes you to a time travelling journey. What strikes one visitor the most is beautiful nature. On the slopes of the mountain Konjuh one can find two extraordinary phenomena – “Maid’s cave”, one of the most interesting caverns from the Palaeolithic age and “Men’s water", a source famous as a fountain of youth.
Located along the Drinjača River at the base of the Mt. Konjuh, this mountainous settlement is exceptionally rich in water that is said to have special powers. There is even one spring of mineral water that is ascribed to the properties of strengthening the body and stamina, especially in men. Therefore, the source is popularly called “Muška voda” (Men’s water), and according to the local people, it is a fountain of youth. On-site, there are lodges, bungalows and walking paths for those who come to drink this miraculous water and to breathe the clean mountainous air. The entire region of Kladanj was declared an air spa. Convenient geographical location and the wealth of forests and water might be the reasons why people have settled here for thousands of years. And even the name Kladanj is forever linked to the forest.
Hand in hand with “Men’s water” goes “Maid’s cave” located in the village Brateljevići, 12 kilometres from Kladanj. This place, also known as “kišna dova” (rainy ritual), has been considered a holy pilgrimage site since the early Palaeolithic age, where people were coming to pray for enough rain. What makes Maid’s cave the most attractive for visitors is a legend about the girl after which the cavern was named. The legend has it that one girl from Kladanj, who wanted to prove her courage to the group of young men, entered the cave during the night to take some water from the spring. As a proof of being there, she wanted to stick a spindle into the ground, but since it was dark, she accidentally pierced a part of her dress. When she tried to get up and leave, she felt that something was pulling her down, and her heart broke from the fear. She was buried at that place, and people are coming to visit her tombstone for centuries.
The reason why Kladanj is called the home of winged girls lies in the thousands of years old engravings in the Maid’s cave. If you carefully observe the rocky walls, you will see the engraved motif of a female figure with wings, repeated on both sides of the entrance, together with drawings of horsemen and animals that resemble the deer. It is believed that these engravings are at least 10.000 years old, dating back to the Palaeolithic era. Besides the Maid’s cave, other archaeological treasures worth discovering are Bosnian medieval tombstones called “stećci“. Wandering around the area of Kladanj and the slopes of Mt. Konjuh, you are bound to come across some of more than 400 stećci scattered in 53 different locations.
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