As I drive through the empty and vast landscape of Blidinje NP my mind can’t help but wonder how did life looked like here in the past. Illyrian graves and Roman roads tell us that people inhabited Blidinje area for at least 2,500 years. The huge number of stećci necropolis is an indication of this area being not just populated, but densely populated during medieval times. Actually, I heard of an old local legend saying that during a rainy day you could pass underneath the roofs of the houses all the way from Sovićka vrata to the Lake (around 13 km) without getting wet. This is exactly the part of the empty road that I’m driving and I find it hard to imagine that it was ever so populated. These days, though there are over 700 weekend houses here, the number of permanent residents is only 22.
Pojate – traditional mountain houses
Dugo polje valley is now mostly used for cattle grazing though throughout history crop cultivation was more significant. So called pojate are traditional stone houses of the area. They have a straw roof, a single door and window and an entrance to the attic from the other side. The attic was used as a storage for straw and cereals, though people often slept there as well. Few square meters of the ground floor were separated into the area for cattle and the area for cooking, eating and sleeping. The houses were often buried into the ground or surrounded by earth embankment and stone drywall for heat.
Monastery and the Church of St. Elijah
Records tell us that throughout history nomadic herders from lower Herzegovina brought their cattle here for grazing. They were followed by Franciscans who made sure their flock was spiritually supported. In 1923. Franciscans built a monastery here that was burned during the Second World War. Its reconstruction started in 1981. and the beautifully decorated Church of Saint Elijah was built a few years later next to it. The Monastery, located right under the highest peak of Čvrsnica mountain (Pločno at 2.228 m), has a beautiful art gallery open to visitors.
Necropolis Dugo polje
While traveling through the area you will notice a huge number of stećci (medieval tombstones) dotting the Park. The biggest and most important necropolis of stećci is in Dugo polje next to the Lake. 150 tombstones with figural scenes of dancing and hunting lie quietly beneath the Vran mountain. They are a National Monument of BiH and have been put on the UNESCO World Heritage List along with another 30 necropolis all over BIH.
Healing properties of Bosnian Pine
As I already mentioned Masna Luka Nature Reserve is one of the world’s largest reserves of Bosnian Pine or white bark pine, a tree famous for its healing properties. Locals told me that according to their traditions it is used with honey for strengthening the immune system and against all kinds of respiratory diseases. Also, I found it simply delicious, so if you are here make sure you stock up. It’s a valuable medicine to have at all times.
Čvrsnica Mountain is famous for natural springs, underground waters and smaller lakes. One such spring called Jasle is located right next to the Church and the hiking trail leading up the Čvrsnica Mountain. Make sure you drink from this healing spring and bring some water with you if you are going to hike.