Some 25 km south from an awe-inspiring city of Banja Luka, snuggled between the two gorges of Vrbas River and its cliffs, one can find a lovely town called Krupa na Vrbasu. A scenic road from Banja Luka towards Jajce guides you through some jaw-dropping sceneries that only nature can design. During a half-an-hour ride, you will be following the stunning Vrbas River Canyon, admiring steep cliffs hanging above the narrow road, and passing by some thrill seekers enjoying their Carpe Diem time in one of the top-notch destinations in the Balkans. But that is just an introduction to what expects you in the surprisingly refreshing town of Krupa na Vrbasu. So, if you are ready, here are the top five jaw-dropping sights to explore in this hidden gem.
Krupa na Vrbasu is known for its falls and watermills situated in the town. If you fancy an escape from the city bustle, these crystal-clear roaring waterfalls and charming old watermills are a perfect choice. If you wonder how wheat and buckwheat were ground centuries ago, you will have a chance to learn it here, since some of those ancient watermills do it to this very day. A fairy-tallish scenery makes a lovely sight one can hardly forget, especially if you buy freshly ground flour or taste locally produced trout.
After you explore Krupa falls and old mills, I would suggest you to hike up to the source of Krupa River, a tributary of Vrbas River. This pleasant four-kilometre promenade along the banks of Krupa River is full of interesting paths through splendid forests, and if you are lucky, you might come across some of the endemic animals. Once at the place where Krupa River springs, you will also reach another sight worth exploring – Strikina Pećina (Uncle’s Cave). Some say that the source of Krupa River used to be in the cave before an earthquake displaced it.
Not far away from Krupa River, situated in the proximity of a medieval fortress called Greben, stands still Krupa na Vrbasu Monastery, known among locals as the spiritual hotspot. It is believed that this Serbian Orthodox monastery was built in the late 13th century as an endowment of King Milutin (1282-1321), who belonged to the Nemanjići Dynasty. However, some archaeological excavations discovered the remains of an older basilica from the 6th century, which makes Krupa Monastery the oldest Christian church in this part of Bosnia & Herzegovina. In its turbulent history, the monastery was many times devastated and rebuilt. Nearby this church, you will notice a necropolis with stećci, Bosnian medieval tombstones, protected as UNESCO World Heritage.
If you pay attention, on the rock above the church of St. Elijah, you will notice the remains of the medieval town Greben, that dates back to 1192. So, after you explore the monastery, hike up to the ruins of Greben. It will be an easy five-kilometre hike, and once you reach the Greben watchtower, a frightening and stunning view of Vrbas River canyon will open in front on you. What a priceless moment!
In the proximity of Krupa na Vrbasu Monastery, precisely in the village Tovilovići, one can find a true rarity - a wooden church. Built in 1735, during the Austro-Turkish wars, this church is eight meters long and six meters large. The log church was constructed when the monastery was devasted, and it served as a shelter for monks, until the Ottomans defeat in 1878. A gospel from Moscow (1778) is the most valuable artefact that this log church preserves.
For a small town that counts only 1200 inhabitants, Krupa na Vrbasu has got a good share of things to see and experience. No matter what you look for – untouched nature, historical sites or worship objects, this hidden gem has it all. From stunning falls, river springs, old watermills to a medieval fortress, an ancient monastery and a log church – Krupa na Vrbasu and its top five jaw-dropping sights are not to be missed.
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