• Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegowina

 During your travels, there are moments that leave you awe-inspired, making you pause and think, "Wow, I never imagined I would be here."

My first such moment occurred when I visited Chichén Itzá in Mexico, and the second came when I stood in front of Blagaj Tekke in Bosnia & Herzegovina.
Blagaj Tekke, tucked away in this incredibly tiny corner of the world, had always seemed like a place reserved for inspirational pictures and Pinterest boards. I had initially considered it too difficult to access and wondered if it was worth the effort.
Yet, to my pleasant surprise, I was proven wrong. Not only did I manage to reach Blagaj, but it turned out to be well worth every bit of the journey.
It's difficult to put into words what exactly captivated me about Blagaj. Perhaps it was the way this small white house stood amidst towering cliffs, overlooking water of the most mesmerizing turquoise-blue hue I had ever laid eyes on. Although I didn't fully grasp the historical and religious significance of the site, it didn't matter. Blagaj became one of the most peaceful and cherished places I encountered during my European travels.
I may never fully comprehend what drew me so strongly to this site, but visiting Blagaj was like stepping into a surreal dream – a place I never thought I'd witness in real life. It happened spontaneously as we were returning from our visit to Mostar and the Stari Most.
To be honest, Blagaj was a last-minute decision, triggered by a memory from some time ago that popped into my mind when I spotted it on the map. Surprisingly, it turned out to be an easily accessible detour from the main freeway between Mostar and the Croatian border. Just following the big brown signs that directed visitors to Blagaj Tekke led us effortlessly to the destination without much reliance on maps.
Blagaj itself is a charming small village located in the southeastern region of the Mostar basin within the Herzegovina-Neretva Canton of Bosnia & Herzegovina. Its name likely derives from its mild weather, as "blaga" means "mild" in Bosnian. The village holds significance as it sits at the spring of the Buna River and houses the historical Blagaj Tekija, a traditional Dervish monastery.
Constructed around 1520, the Blagaj Tekija was intended for the Dervish cults, featuring elements of Ottoman architecture and Mediterranean style, making it a national monument. Regarded as one of Bosnia & Herzegovina's holiest and oldest sites, it was originally a place for gatherings of the Sufi Brotherhood. The allure and sacredness of this historical site left an indelible impression on me, and I consider myself fortunate to have stumbled upon it during my travels.
Remarkably, amidst the relentless turmoil of death and destruction in the vicinity, this mystical tekija miraculously remained unscathed during the Bosnian War.
The most awe-inspiring view of the main tekija reveals itself from the opposite side of the river. Although there are no signs to guide you there, finding the way can be a bit challenging.
Follow the footpath behind Vrelo Restaurant, situated on the opposite side of the river from the car park. This trail will lead you up a flight of stairs, winding around the cliff side until you reach a small concrete platform offering the most breathtaking views imaginable.
Standing there, I took a moment to reflect on just how far we were from home and how fortunate we were to be witnessing such a remarkable sight. The tranquility and serenity of the surroundings were simply exquisite. I will forever cherish this memory.
Surprisingly, there were very few people around, adding to the sense of peace and solitude. It was the perfect place to immerse oneself in the moment and appreciate the extraordinary experience.
I still cannot pinpoint precisely what it was about Blagaj that resonated so deeply with me, but it was undeniably a perfect and unforgettable place. If you ever find yourself in Bosnia & Herzegovina or even Croatia, I wholeheartedly recommend making the trip to this captivating destination.

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