Bosnia’s Beautiful Monastery Under A Cliff

Blagaj Tekija is a Dervish monastery outside Mostar, Bosnia, that’s nearly 600 years old. Situated at the base of a cliff, next to the source of the river Buna, it’s a unique and picturesque series of buildings that looks even better in person than it does in pictures.

The Tekija (or Tekke) was first founded during the height of the Ottoman empire. Time and rock slides have led to extensive repairs and reconstruction to the buildings. Today, thanks largely to a Turkish travel agency, the Tekke looks mostly as it did in the past.

Photo credit: Studio nova vizija

It’s a short drive from Mostar, the route eventually leading to gorgeous single-track roads along the Buna.

Of course there’s more than just the Tekke now. A few restaurants line the banks of the river, offering stunning views to go with their vittles. A few souvenir shops too, though these aren’t excessive.

After you snap the photo you see at the top, you can take a brief boat ride into the cave that’s the start of the Buna. The water’s pure enough to drink from directly (the water in this part of Bosnia tastes better than the bottled stuff, even from the tap). It costs a few marks to get in, but given the cost of upkeep a place like this must require, the fee seems low.

Tekija BlagajPhoto credit: Studio nova vizija

You can go inside, as long as you take your shoes off (and cover up a bit, depending on what you’re wearing. In addition to the buildings you see in the popular photos, there are several others.

Though predominantly a tourist attraction now, it’s still a holy place. Services are held regularly, and the entire place has a quiet reverence.

Tekija BlagajPhoto credit: Studio nova vizijaTekija BlagajPhoto credit: Studio nova vizija

Unlike the bare walls and floors common to many old and refurbished historical buildings, the Tekke feels like a real place, with carpets and pillows. It feels more like you’re stepping into a working monastery, sneaking a peek while the dervish are busy elsewhere.

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Definitely worth a visit if you’re in Mostar (or most of Croatia, as Mostar is a short bus/car ride away).

Written by Geoffrey Morrison for Forbes.com

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