Outlaws, maidens and legends
Traveling through the vast and unusual landscapes of Blidinje NP I heard many legends and myths related to the Vran Mountain. However, two hold particular significance to the people here. One is related to the famous local outlaw – hajduk Mijat Tomić and the other to a beautiful young maiden, Diva Grabovčeva, who sacrificed her life for her faith. Each year thousands of Catholics come to her grave in the mountains for pilgrimage.
Who were hajduci?
Some of the favorite myths and legends in the Balkans are related to local outlaws – hajduke who are highly romanticized and venerated in the local folklore. These were viewed as sort of Robin Hood characters of the Balkans who were rebelling against the Ottoman Empire. They were also feared as bandits who preyed not only on Ottomans, but also local merchants and travelers.
Famous hajduk and his cave
Outlaw Mijat Tomić was the most famous hajduk who lived and died in the 17th century in the area. In local folklore he is praised for his fearlessness and bravery in fighting the Ottoman Empire. Vran Mountain holds two caves attributed to Mijat Tomić and one of them, according to legends, exits at the other side. Stories about caves like this are not uncommon here as no one could explain how hajduci were being seen at two distant places almost at once.
No man’s land
Due to a jurisdiction issue a local by the name of Vinko Vukoja -Lastvić couldn’t solve a problem with a power supply net. Because the area was a no man’s land he was being sent from one municipality to the other for years. Finally, he solved the problem by himself and humorously proclaimed Hajdučka Republika in 2002. on the territory of this no man’s land.
A republic is born
The owner really didn’t lack in creative imagination, humor and effort in creating Hajdučka Republika. This imaginary republic has 73 ministries, including the Ministry for Protection of Men from Violent Women, Ministry for Disinformation and Internal Idleness and Ministry for Vine, Ham and Leisure. It also has a constitution, its own money and a passport which you can apply for online. The constitution forbids any political activity as it is not good for the health of the people, no one pays any taxes, but everyone has a duty to preserve the beautiful nature.
The seat of the Republic is the motel Hajdučke vrleti, an excellent Herzegovinian food restaurant and motel located nearby one of hajduk Mijat’s caves. Sadly, a few years after proclaiming his Republic the owner died leaving it and the motel to his young daughter. At the age of only 17 this beautiful and brave young woman took on her new role and made this one of the most popular places in Herzegovina.
This is a really good place to finish your tour around Blidinje NP and treat yourself to a nice home made meal. The food is beautifully served in and delicious and the service is good. You can try all sorts of delicacies of traditional Herzegovinian cuisine. I tried a simple local specialty, polenta with lučenica (organic corn flour with garlic and sour cream sauce) and it was delicious. I also noticed that there is an unusually high selection of vegetarian dishes for a country like Bosnia and Herzegovina. Though I didn’t spend the night here the rooms look good and next time I will spend the night. They have a beautiful and very useful website, however it is only available in the local language. All in all I really liked the location, the vibe, the food and the whole idea behind it. For more info on what to do and see in the area check here and here.