Have you ever thought of what distinguishes excellent violins from average ones? What makes famous Stradivari violin the best in the world? Besides the workmanship, the most crucial element is the quality of wood. And when it comes to the quality, legendary luthier Antonio Stradivari (1644-1737) never made compromises. He had opted for the top-notch quality that Earth has to offer – the Bosnian maple. Since the 17th century, the magnificent sound of his instruments is achieved by using an aged Bosnian maple, that remains a preferred wood for fine violins making. This tree is native to the mountainous regions of Southern Europe. The largest habitat of Bosnian maple is Mt. Konjuh in the north-eastern part of Bosnia & Herzegovina, not far from Tuzla, the third largest city in the country. Very few people know the story of how Bosnian maple connected Stradivari violin and Mt. Konjuh, so let me introduce you this centuries-old mountain and its treasures.
First of all, Mt. Konjuh is a green oasis that extends over four municipalities in Bosnia: Tuzla, Banovići, Živinice and Kladanj. All nature lovers will certainly be interested in landscapes with untouched nature of Konjuh, endemic plant species, and the abundance of water that can be safely drunk. If you are a hiker, it is good to know that all Konjuh peaks are accessible at any time of the year. Whether you are heading out to Varda, Zidine, Javorje, Mali Konjuh, or to the very top (1328 m), you can expect a unique experience. For those more adventurous ones, keep in mind that some parts of Konjuh are inhabited by wolfs and bears. An important part of this mountain is state protected as an area of natural and historical heritage due to its ecological and cultural values, as well as high biological diversity. It is a home of some rare endemic plants such as Bosnian lily, Bosnian iris, spring snowflake, great yellow gentian, etc.
In addition to its beauty, the richness of flora and fauna and outstanding water, Mt. Konjuh is in some way renowned around the world. It is the greatest habitation of Bosnian maple, that has been for centuries used by famous Stradivari for violins making. Considering the unique conditions that Mt. Konjuh enjoys, it comes as no surprise that Bosnian maple (Acer platanoides) has the wood of such exceptional quality. In general, Bosnia & Herzegovina has some of the best quality tonewood in the world. Thanks to this superior maple, the celebrated Cremonese violin-makers are crafting the instruments that are still considered unrivalled for its quality. Without the honoured Bosnian maple, the Stradivari violin wouldn’t be able to create such a brilliant sound, so we can say that they are a perfect match.
Now that you learnt how Bosnian maple connected Stradivari violins and Mt. Konjuh, it is a high time to tell you why this place is a hot destination on many bucket lists. The Konjuh mountain is a popular destination for all adventurous sports fans (hikers, bikers, rock climbers), but those who enjoy hunting and fishing. If you are a history lover, you will be pleased to know that this region is affluent in medieval tombstones called “stećci”, typical monuments of Bosnia & Herzegovina. Finally, if exploring caverns is your thing, I would strongly suggest visiting the Maid’s cave close to Kladanj, known as the home of winged girls. And, if you come in summer, don’t miss the opportunity to explore Pannonica, a unique Salt Lakes Trio in Tuzla.
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