Herzegovina

Herzegovina is the southern region of Bosnia and Herzegovina. While there is no official border distinguishing it from the Bosnian region, it is generally accepted that the borders of the region are Croatia to the southwest, Montenegro to the east, Mount Maglić to the northeast, and Mount Ivan to the northMeasurements of the area range from 11,419 km2 (4,409 sq mi),or around 22% of the total area of the present-day country, to 12,276 km2 (4,740 sq mi), around 24% of the country.The name Herzegovina means “duke’s land”, referring to the medieval duchy of Stjepan Vukčić Kosača who took title “Herzeg of Saint Sava”. Herceg is derived from the German title Herzog.

Geography

The terrain of Herzegovina is mostly hilly karst with high mountains in the north such as Čvrsnica and Prenj, except for the central valley of the river Neretva River. The largest city is Mostar, in the center of the region. Other larger towns include Trebinje, Stolac, Široki Brijeg, Konjic, and Čapljina. Borders between Bosnia and Herzegovina are unclear and often disputed.

The upper flow of the Neretva River lies in the northern parts of Herzegovina, a heavily forested area with fast flowing rivers and high mountains. Towns like Konjic and Jablanica lie in this area, considered by many the most beautiful part of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The Neretva rises on Lebršnik Mountain, close to the border to Montenegro, and as the river flows towards west, it enters Herzegovina. The entire upper catchment of Neretva constitutes a precious ecoregion with many endemic and endangered species. Fast flowing emerald river carves its way through the precipitius karst terrain, providing excellent opportunities for rafting and kayaking, while the spectacular scenery of the surrounding mountains and forests is a challenging hiking terrain.

The Neretva’s tributaries in the upper flow are mostly short, due to the mountainous terrain: the Rakitnica River has cut a deep canyon, its waters being one of the least explored areas in this part of Europe. The Rakitnica River flows into Neretva upstream from Konjic.

The Neretva then flows towards northwest, through the town of Konjic. The river enters the Jablanica Reservoir (Jablaničko jezero), one of the largest in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The lake ends near the town of Jablanica, known for the Battle of Neretva, marking a crucial victory of Yugoslav Partisans over the German army and its quisling allies during World War II. From here on, the Neretva turns southward continuing its course towards the Adriatic Sea.

With mountains lining its shores gradually receding, the Neretva enters a valley where the city of Mostar lies. It flows under the well-known old bridge (Stari most) and continues now more widely flowing towards the town of Čapljina and the Neretva Delta in Croatia before emptying into the Adriatic Sea.

Cities

Mostar is the best known and the unofficial capital. It is also the only city with over 100,000 citizens. There are no other large cities in Herzegovina, though some have illustrious histories. Stolac, for example, is perhaps the oldest city in Herzegovina. There have been settlements dating from the Paleolithic period (Badanj cave). An Illyrian tribe lived in the city of Daorson. There were several Roman settlements alongside the Bregava River and medieval inhabitants left large and beautiful stone grave monuments called stećak in Radimlja. Trebinje, on the Trebišnjica River, is the southernmost city in Bosnia and Herzegovina, near the border with Montenegro. Čapljina and Ljubuški are known for their history and their rivers; the village of Međugorje has religious importance for many Croats and Catholics.

Early history

Slavs settled the Balkans in the 6th and 7th centuries. What later became known as Herzegovina was divided into two Serbian regions in the Early and High Middle Ages, Zahumlje and Travunija, which were roughly divided by the Neretva River. The entire region was later ruled by the Nemanjić dynasty (1166–1371) until the late 13th century, when the western portion became part of the Hungarian Kingdom of Croatia. Bosnian Ban Stjepan II Kotromanić and King Tvrtko I Kotromanić joined these regions to the Bosnian state in the 14th century.

Kosača family

Following the weakening of the Bosnian crown after the death of King Tvrtko I, magnate Sandalj Hranić and his nephew Stjepan Vukčić of the Bosnian Kosača family ruled the Hum region independently, only nominally recognizing Bosnian overlordship. In a document sent to Frederick III on January 20, 1448, Stjepan Vukčić was titled Herzog (duke) of Saint Sava, lord of Hum and Primorje, great duke of the Bosnian kingdom, his lands (the Duchy of Saint Sava) became (much later) known as Herzog’s lands or Herzegovina.

Ottoman period

In 1482, the lands of Stefan Vukčić’s successors were occupied by Ottoman forces. The Ottomans were the first to begin officially using the name Herzegovina (Hersek) for the region. The Bosnian beylerbey Isa-beg Ishaković mentioned the name in a letter from 1454. In the Ottoman Empire, Herzegovina was organized as a sanjak, the Sanjak of Herzegovina, within the Bosnia Eyalet.

During the Long War (1591–1606), Serbs rose up in Herzegovina (1596–97), but they were quickly suppressed after their defeat at the field of Gacko. The Candian War of 1645 to 1669 caused great damage to the region as the Republic of Venice and the Ottoman Empire fought for control over Dalmatia and coastal Herzegovina. As a result of the Treaty of Karlowitz of 1699, the Ottomans gained access to the Adriatic Sea through the Neum-Klek coastal area. The Republic of Dubrovnik seceded this to distance themselves from the Venetian Republic’s influence. The Ottomans benefitted from this in gaining the region’s salt.

As a result of the Bosnian Uprising (1831–32), the Vilayet was split to form the separate Herzegovina Eyalet, ruled by semi-independent vizier Ali-paša Rizvanbegović. After his death, the eyalets of Bosnia and Herzegovina were merged. The new joint entity was after 1853 commonly referred to as Bosnia and Herzegovina. Serbs in the region revolted against the Ottomans (1852–62) and were aided by the Montenegrins, who sought the liberation of the Serb people from Ottoman rule. The Herzegovinian Serbs frequently rose up against the Ottoman rule; culminating in the Herzegovina Uprising (1875-78), which was supported by the Principality of Serbia and Montenegro. Montenegro did succeed in liberating and annexing large parts of Herzegovina before the Berlin Congress of 1878, including the Nikšić area; the historical Herzegovina region annexed to Montenegro is known as East or Old Herzegovina.

Modern history

As a result of the Treaty of Berlin (1878), Herzegovina, along with Bosnia, was occupied by Austria-Hungary, only nominally remaining under Ottoman rule. The historical Herzegovina region in the Principality of Montenegro was known as East or Old Herzegovina. The Serb population of Herzegovina and Bosnia hoped for annexation to Serbia and Montenegro. The Franciscan order opened the first university in Herzegovina in 1895 in Mostar.

In 1908, Austria-Hungary annexed the province, leading to the Bosnian Crisis, an international dispute which barely failed to precipitate a world war immediately, and was an important step in the buildup of international tensions during the years leading up to the First World War. The assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand came as a direct result of the resentment of the Serbs of Bosnia and Herzegovina against Austro-Hungarian rule.

During World War I, Herzegovina was a scene of inter-ethnic conflict. During the war, the Austro-Hungarian government formed Šuckori, Muslim and Croat militia units. Šuckori units were especially active in Herzegovina.
In 1918, Herzegovina became a part of the newly formed Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (later renamed Kingdom of Yugoslavia). In 1941 Herzegovina fell once again under the rule of the fascist Independent State of Croatia. During World War II, Herzegovina was a battleground between fascist Croat Ustaše, royalist Serb Četniks, and the communist Yugoslav Partisans; Herzegovina was a part of the Independent State of Croatia, administratively divided into the counties of Hum and Dubrava, then in 1945, PR Bosnia and Herzegovina became one of the republics of Second Yugoslavia. It remained so until the breakup of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s.

Tourism

In Herzegovina there are many beautiful and well-known landmarks.

  • Međugorje is a little place in west Herzegovina.It is the main spiritual town in this region and the second-largest Catholic pilgrimage destination in the world, with around 5,000 inhabitants. The name of this little pilgrimage parish denotes “an area between mountains.It is the most famous for Our Lady’s apparitions.
  •  Mostar is the biggest city in Herzegovina, located on the banks of Neretva River. It is also cultural and economic center of this area, with more than 130,000 inhabitantsIt is the most famous for the beautiful historic ottoman-style bridge called the  Old Bridge.
  • Blagaj is also known as the source of the river Buna, inside the cave system.Blagaj has always been the place to come because of its beauty, its enchanting nature and history, which is palpable in every moment. Unique surroundings source of the Buna, peace Dervish House and freshness of the Buna River make it special. Blagaj and its surroundings are characterized by the diversity of its surface and groundwater, and karst forms and types of rocks. Blagaj in this regard is one of the finest examples of geomorphological processes that have historically held on this ground. The source of the Buna is one of the largest and most beautiful in Europe.
  • Hutovo Blato is a bird reserve and nature park in southern Herzegovina rich wetland plants.International Council for Bird Protection placed this reserve on the list of important bird habitats because this reserve is biggest of its kind in this part of Europe to the surface, and diversity. This reserve is a unique oasis in the harsh arid karst of western Herzegovina. It is ideal for nature lovers and families with children as it is full of freshwater fish, wild ducks, geese, coots, hawks, herons, pheasants, wild boar and wild horses.
  • Vjetrenica cave is a cave system near the border with Croatia, in the Ravno municipality. The cave has not been explored totally yet, but it is open to visitors. More and more species are being discovered there and it is a unique ecosystem with cave animals and other interesting things.
  • Neum at the Adriatic Sea, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s only coastal town, it is the most famous for its beautiful, clear sea, sandy beaches and steep hills. The favorable climate and pure sea air make Neum the perfect place not only for swimming and sunbathing, but also for beach walks, various water sport and many other activities.
  • Kravice Waterfall is a beautiful waterfall which is located three kilometers downstream from Vitaljina, in Studenci near Ljubuški, only 40 kilometers from Mostar. Trebižat River is responsible for existence of this waterfall, which height ranges from 26 – 28 meters.
  • Blidinje Nature Park is a unique natural phenomenon, where live many endemic species of flora and fauna with a lot of sources of clean, potable water. He is known as one of the largest habitats of endemic white pine.Blidinje Nature Park is named after the lake Blidinje, located in a place called Long Field at an altitude of 1184 meters above sea level.
  • Trebinje located in the hinterland of the southern Adriatic, only 25 kilometers from the sea, Trebinje is a veritable treasury of cultural – historical heritage, created by a mixture of different peoples and civilizations that have passed through the area. Orient and Mediterranean blend gives it a special charm, so that the spirit and charm of these different worlds can be felt at every turn.

 

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