The city of Mostar may well be the most popular destination in the underrated country of Bosnia Herzegovina. It’s famous bridge and riverfront are truly picturesque and watching the young men leap from the bridge is a must for those visiting. But what is one to do when they have finished sightseeing here? The answer is in a small village nearby by the name of Blagaj.
Lying only a short distance from the city, a day trip to Blagaj is a perfectly simple option for those visiting Mostar. By most standards Blagaj is just a run of the mill Bosnian village, its houses and streets not particularly memorable or noteworthy. What sets this village apart however is the truly scenic Dervish Monastery that it hosts. The Blagaj Tekke is probably one of my favourite photo spots in the whole country, above even the iconic bridge of Mostar.
The Blagaj Tekke itself is a monastery for those of the Dervish faith. The Dervish are an order of Sufi Muslims that believe in taking a vow of poverty and rejecting material possessions. They’re probably best known for their whirling, hypnotic style of dance. I like to think they made up for their humble lifestyle with the wealth of scenery around them. Built around 1520, the tekke is an incredibly well preserved example of Ottoman architecture. This of course calls back to the Balkans many years under Ottoman rule.
Besides exploring its courtyards and riverfront, visitors to Blagaj can also enter inside the monastery. Before entering, you’ll be asked to remove your shoes and be dress modestly as this is a religious building after all. Inside, you get to admire the traditional Ottoman architecture and the rugs that cover its floors. From the balconies, you can look out over the courtyard and the nearby river. Entrance to the monastery was just 2km when I visited June 2015, but I believe it is now 4km as of 2017.
Nestled under a vast jagged cliff face and by the gentle rapids of a delightful little river, the Blagaj Tekke has a truly serene setting. What’s more, the Buna River actually flows out from a cave there, from where I don’t know. It seems you can take a boat ride into the cave, but I wasn’t game. More than happy to take photos of it though. A little further downstream from the cave you’ll find restaurants stretching along the banks of the river, capitalising on the day trip traffic. I did end up eating here and while quite overpriced, it was a perfectly fine meal.
In my opinion the best spot to take photos is on the opposite bank to the tekke, at the end of a small trail that runs behind the restaurants. I did spend most of my time in Blagaj simply taking photos, it really is something else, with its blend of historic architecture, gentle water and rugged earth. It turns out there is also a fortress atop the hill overlooking Blagaj, but I wimped out with the summer heat. Next time I guess!
The village of Blagaj is only about 12km from Mostar. For those that have a car, the day trip to Blagaj couldn’t be simpler if you just look at Google Maps. By public transport it’s actually pretty straightforward as well. Take the #11 bus from Španski Trg in Mostar for just 2.1km, right into Blagaj village. I jumped the gun and got off early which meant a nice little walk. I did get to see more of the area that way so it wasn’t all bad. The bus trip takes about 30 minutes or so.
Have you had the chance to make a day trip to Blagaj? Did you climb up to the fort? Are there other places you would recommend visiting from Mostar? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
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