Everybody has heard of Dubrovnik, the stunning but impossibly overcrowded Croatian city on the Adriatic Sea, and only a few people will know about Mostar, the most important cultural city in the Herzegovina region of Bosnia and Herzegovina, just across the border. Indeed the UNESCO World Heritage listed Stari Most (Old Bridge) in Mostar is probably the most iconic historical landmark in the entire country.
Mention the town of Trebinje however and it’s safe to assume that most people will draw a blank, me included until I decided to visit Bosnia and Herzegovina during my travels through the Balkans.
Trebinje, the southernmost town in Bosnia and Herzegovina, is only 28km from Dubrovnik but tourist-wise it is a world apart from its more famous neighbor and an excellent place to break the journey if travelling between Dubrovnik and Mostar.
Trebinje Old Town
The Old Town of Trebinje emerged in the 18th century and soon developed into a trading & crafts centre named Kastel.
There is barely a town in Herzegovina that was not erected along a freshwater river. Trebinje is no exception: its old town lines the banks of the Trebisnjica River that flows through the heart of the city. The river and the city have always been known for the enormous old mills treading the Trebisnjica. Although they are not fully functional today, they stay a symbol of Herzegovina's not-so-distant past when everything was directly connected to the power of nature.
In Trebinje, that power of nature was bigger before the Grancarevo dam curtailed the river, some 15 km north-east from Trebinje. This dam was bound to swallow the Arslanagic Bridge. To save this beautiful example of Ottoman stone bridge building, it came, stone by stone, from a village seven kilometers up the river, and rebuilt in downtown Trebinje.
Hercegovačka Gračanica Church Trebinje
At the southernmost end of Bosnia, in the area governed principally by Bosnian Serbs, is this beautiful Orthodox church. It's at the top of a hill overlooking the town of Trebinje, and offers lovely views. It's surrounded by a neat courtyard, with tables where visitors can enjoy the view, and lush green trees and lawns. The church itself has a traditional eastern Orthodox style, including a number of domes as well as gold crosses on the roof.
It was built in the late 19th century and has a rich interior, featuring extravagant gold chandeliers, ornate paintings, and carved columns. The church is open to visitors and is a lovely spot to enjoy a sunny afternoon looking out over the town below.