We have started the trip with the small Herzegovinian town Konjic. The adventure begun with a visit to the house of Zuko Džumhur, a Bosnian Writer, chronicle writer, painter and caricature artist; the only man whom Ivo Andić has written a book prelude. The house is a protytpe of a traditional Bosnian home with two floors.
Džumhur's literary work, personal belongings, photos, as well as authentic 20th century furniture have been kept inside until today.
Some few hundred meters down the street, in the Local Museum, we saw paintings of Lazar Drljača, the „last Bosnian Bogomil“. The throne and/or the judical chair of Jelena Gruba, a Bosnian queen, along with other exhibits bear witness to the rich history of Konjic.
After crossing the old bridge, one of many national monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Konjic, we continued towards the Konjic museum of handcraftings, which is owned by the Nikšić family who keeps to this craft since 1919. The museum contains a chronological display of the development of woodcarving in Konjic up to the modern day, where it is part of UNESCO's list of immaterial heritage. We also had the opportunity to try our hand and be masters of Konjic woodcarving oruselves.
Down the street, some 500 meters furter, we arrived at another national monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina. We are, of course, refering to the Stećci which are located within the park on the Varda hill, right under the cultural center. There are around ten Stećci gravestones with very rich ornamenture.
After touring the city core, we decided to travel outside of the urban Konjic area and visited the once greatest state secret of former Yugoslavia. We visited the former atomic war-command post, more prominently known as „Tito's bunker“. We have seen how the Yugoslav system prepared itself for a potential atomic strike on Yugoslavia. The bunker includes bedrooms, security systems, ventilation and AC systems, kitchens, bathrooms and other spaces which were intended for head-of-state officials. Nowadays, the bunker also hosts modern artwork made by artists from all around the region, Europe and the world, which have installed them in the bunker in hopes of transforming the complex into a cultural institution which was to be on the forefront of new artistic trends.
At the end of the day, we decided to treat ourselves with traditional Bosnian foods: sirnica, burek and zeljanica, while boating on the marvelous Jablanica lake.
This day-trip in Konjic was filled with trips through time. If you surrender yourselves to Konjic, you will feel the spirit of different traditions, ideologies and times, which, on the first glance, are behind us. Town like Konjic protect these spirits and keep them within arm's reach.
Neretva Memorial in Jablanica
After Konjic, the participants headed to Jablanica, a town located in Herzegovina-Neretva canton. Most of the time we have spent in the museum dedicated to the most humane battle of World War II – the Museum of the „Battle for the wounded on Neretva “. The building which was built in the spirit of modern architecture – designed by Branko Tadić, Zdravko Dunđerović, Mustafa Ramić and Mustafa Ramić – was part of the school curriculum all across former Yugoslavia as a mandatory place to visit.
By walking in a cycle from left to right, we saw the Ocupators' plans and preparations for the operation „Fall Weiss “, which was intended to destroy the partisan units in Yugoslavia. We also saw original photos of women, children and the elderly retreating before the enemy's advance, as well as the enemy uniforms. The most important document begins with Tito's order – „The wounded must not be left behind“. By closing the cycle of our tour, we saw how the mobile hospital looked like. Special attention in this part of the tour was drawn by a life-size depiction of how the wounded were transported. The end of the cycle also closes the theme of the exhibit with a show of the partisan counter offence through various documents, models, military maps, weaponry and artistic depictions of Yugoslavia's greatest artists.
We were able to feel the atmosphere which was present in Jablanica and its surroundings during the agonizing, but ultimately victorious and most humane battle of the Second World War.
Only one floor under, in the same building, we were entertained by the women of the Union of Women „Most “, with which we drank Bosnian coffee, sung „bećarac “songs, tried ourselves at knitting and lastly tasted numerous delicacies which were prepared by these women.
Next stop was the city of Mostar. We went to the Partisan Memorial Cemetery — a masterful piece of work by the famous Yugoslav architect Bogdan Bogdanović. According to the words of Gojko Jukić, the monument on Bijeli Brijeg is a synthesis of stone, water, greenery and light; everything which emanates from the city on the banks of the Neretva. That is why they grew together; the city and the monument. As a shining tear it remains in every eye when viewed from afar. But upon coming close, it becomes a complex story of human bravery. You traverse it as if through a steep, river pass. It climbs up a karst, Herzegovinian cliff and descends through arched doorways into Mostar houses.
We continued the poetic ambience of the monument with a visit to the grave of Aleksa Šantić — a famous poet from Mostar.
We parted with the traditional art forms with a visit to the contemporary street art park, where we saw murals which were created during the Street art festival in Mostar.
At the end of the day we visited the AbrakaBakra Copper Art craft-station in the heart of the old town of Mostar, where we had the opportunity to craft our own bracelets through the traditional craft with copper. Right next to the workshop in the „Cafe de Alma “, we enjoyed the aroma of Bosnian coffee, and were acquainted with the traditional process of making this type of coffee. The stay at this location was fulfilled with the company of the young team from the folklore group „Podveležje“, which completed the stay at the old town with traditional songs and play.
The part of the tour in Bosnia and Herzegovina was wrapped up by the city rafting tour on the river Neretva and with the adrenaline adventure on zip line (Fortica Hill).
The field trip then continued in Montenegro discovering Niksić and its cultural heritage and tradition. Starting with the arboretum, a collection of domestic and foreign species of trees and shrubs, made in Grahovo by General Vojo Kovačević. The tour continued to the recently restored Uprising and Revolution Memorial Park on the Umac hill.
The tastes of the region, the traditional ambient, and old stone house and local food were also explored in the ethno-house and cave "Đedovina". Slano Lake and Bridge on Moštanica so-called The Roman bridge are unavoidable attractions on the way to Niksić.
“Riverside Maksimović”, was the perfect place to taste the fish specialties in an authentic ambience on the banks of the river Zeta.
The advanture continued in the village of Župa in Nikšić, enjoying the unusual natural beauties and get acquainted with the techniques of cheese production on the Miličić family farm. Nearby, there is a monument honoring the memory of persons who lost their lives in the battle of Sutjeska.
Trebjesa, the protected natural area of the town of Nikšić, was the last place to visit. The park has more than 200 herbaceous and 40 woody species. There are 15 endemic species of the Balkan Peninsula. A place for relaxation, cycling with a panoramic view of Nikšić.
At the foot of Trebjesa, an imposing monument was erected in the shape of 11m high arms that stretch to the sky in memory of 32 executed resistance members. "Generations will admire your heroism for centuries" was engraved on this monument, completed in 1987 by the author Ljubo Vojvodić.