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The natural and architectural ensemble of Blidinje

Date of Submission: 11/12/2007
Category: Mixed
Submitted by:
Commision to Preserve National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina
State, Province or Region:
Posušje, Tomislavgrad, Jablanica, Prozor and Mostar municipality, Hercegovina-Neretva kanton (county)
Coordinates: N43 38 29 E17 41 18
Ref.: 5281

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It is a high-mountainous area (364 m2) in the central part of the Dinarides, constituting the north-western part of the Herzegovina region, which belongs to the municipalities of Posušje, Tomislavgrad, Jablanica, Prozor and Mostar. Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The area occupies the greater part of the mountain massifs of Čvrsnica and Vran Planina, as well as the dry valley of Dugo Polje. It was founded in 1995 with the aim of systematically preserving and improving its natural and cultural values and distinctive features.

The major natural feature of the area is the Blidinje lake, after which the Nature Park takes its name.  This high-altitude lake (at 1182 m above sea level) lies in the depression of Dugo Polje.  In area it is the largest mountain lake in Bosnia and Herzegovina, covering approx. 3 km2.

The Diva Grabovica gorge in Mt. Cvrsnica is an impressive morphostructure formed by karst erosion, which is a continuation of glacial and fluvial erosion.  The gorge varies in depth from 1200 to 1500 m, and is approximately 6 km in length.  It constitutes a natural geological, geomorphological and botanical museum, home to numerous species of Mediterranean, sub-Mediterranean, upland, subalpine and alpine flora and forest communities (it is a well-known habitat of endemic whitebark pine and pine).  The gorge is a site of great natural interest, constituting a national monument of considerable natural, scientific, touristic and educational importance on account of its fantastic geomorphology, endemic plant species and breeding game preserve for chamois.

It is not known for certain when people first began to inhabit these regions.  The passer-by can now see prehistoric tumuli, Roman roads, the ruins of mediaeval churches, and many necropolises with stećak[1] tombstones, as well as extremely traditional mountain houses from the distant and the more recent past, and a huge number of typical stone boundary walls.

The abundant remains of the foundation walls of late mediaeval religious architecture in Crkvina-Badnji and many necropolises with stećak tombstones are evidence of settlement in this area in the mediaeval period. The stećak tombstones can  be dated to the second half of the 14th and the 15th centuries. The necropolises with their stećak tombstones are rich in ornamental, symbolic and figural scenes

The area covers eleven necropolises with stećak tombstones: Dugo Polje, Risovac-Suho polje, Barzonja, Brčanj-Ponor, Donje Bare, Jezero, Križevi-Striževo, Humac-Striževo, Sritna njiva-Donja Drežnica, Lokve-Donja Jablanica.


[1] STEĆAK - a mediaeval monolithic tombstone, featuring in large numbers in Bosnia and Herzegovina in particular, although some are also to be found in the surrounding regions over which the kings and feudals of Bosnia extended their rule or where people originating from Bosnia and Hum lived - Croatia (particularly in Dalmatia), Montenegro and Serbia.  The first reliably known stecci (plural of stećak) date from the late 12th century (Grdo of Trebinje).  The late mediaeval period - 14th-15th century - at a time when feudalism was well advanced in this part of the world, saw the acme of the stećak as tombstone.  Some tens of thousands of them are believed to have survived, mainly grouped in burial grounds in rows; these sites are of varying size, ranging from five to 700 tombstones.  They are often located alongside monuments of earlier times, particularly alongside places of religious significance (tumuli, crkvina [sites of early mediaeval or late antique churches] and burial grounds).  Many necropolises of stećak tombstones had a church, and later mezarja (Muslim burial grounds), Christian churches and cemeteries took shape alongside them.  The basic shapes of stećak tombstones are slab, chest, tall chest, sarcophagus and, last of all, steles, nišans (Muslim tombstones) and slabs with an upright cross.   The various shapes feature in different proportions from area to area.  A large number of stećak tombstones are decorated in bas relief or carving, taking the form of geometric, architectural, foliar/floral and zoomorphic designs, symbolic and heraldic features, representations of weapons and figural scenes.  The decorations are often to be found in almost endless combinations and variants. Thus far some 400 epitaphs in Bosnian Cyrillic have been deciphered on these tombstones.  The forms and decorations of stećak tombstones betray a blend of entrenched traditions and contemporary influences of various origins, from late antiquity to Romanesque and Gothic styles and designs.

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

The Blidinje Nature Park area, part of the mountainous region of Čvrsnica-Vrana and Čabulja, is an example of the immense geological processes that took place during the orogenesis of the Dinarides, the largest recent area of holokarst in the world.  Vast masses of limestone and dolomite were compressed and stratified in cyclopean formations, and later, during the two glacial periods (Rus-Wurm), the mountain masses were laid bare and crumbled.  The subsequent process of karstification merely added further to the fantastic natural features and the visibility of earlier processes within the recent morphosculpture.

The Park area is an example of the evolutionary development of postglacial flora and fauna.  The components of natural biocoenoses were formed under the influence of altitude, exposure, and geological base.  These biocoenoses are important for the continued study of high-altitude natural forests, alpine meadows and communities on rocks, rock creeps and rocky terrain.  The area is the habitat of a wide range of endemic, relict and rare plant communities.

The appearance and position of the stecak tombstones in untouched natural surroundings makes this area one of the richest and most interesting in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Comparison with other similar properties

The size and density of the area, with its unbroken karst biodiversity and unusually rich flora and fauna, is of major interest for further scientific study.  The Dinarides themselves are an endemic centre of Europe.  The central Dinarides area is among the richest in the 700 km long mountain range.    

The nature park includes 11 mediaeval necropolises with stecak tombstones. The majority of the tombstones are decorated with rosettes, crescent moons, crosses and various borders.  There is a variety of figural scenes, most of them hunting, jousting or round-dance scenes.  The designs indicate that this area has links not only with Herzegovina but also with western Bosnia.  In addition, many of the decorations and other scenes make Blidinje a distinct entity.