Countless stories of stone sleepers at Radimlja necropolis

Ljiljana Krejic | Live the World

November 23, 2022

If you wonder what a typical monument of Bosnia & Herzegovina, a distinguishing artwork and trademark of the country is, here is the answer - a medieval tombstone called stećak. The best place to discover them is in Radimlja, the most famous “Stećci” necropolis in the world.


This unique phenomenon, included in the UNESCO world heritage list, is located near the town of Stolac, in the southern part of the country. Only a 30-min car ride away from Mostar, this complex is also easily reachable from the direction of Adriatic coast, just 50 km away. The stećci at this complex are thickly distributed all along the road.


Radmilja necropolis is the best-known site in Bosnia & Herzegovina containing stećci. Appearing in the 11th century, the stećci reached their peak in the 14th and 15th century, before slowly disappearing during the Ottoman Empire.


The necropolis includes 133 stećci, where almost half of them are decorated with valuable ornaments of a high artistic quality of workmanship. Among characteristic motives of stećci are: architectural ornaments on all four sides of stećci, stylized crosses, human and animal figures, grapevine, hunting and weapon motives. The symbol of this necropolis is a male figure with a raised arm and big hand and fingers, announcing to the visitors that they will be friendly welcomed.


There are around 60.000 tombstones like these scattered across Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Stećci in Radimlja are easy to visit, otherwise many of them are located on high altitudes and in forests. Boljuni necropolis is another complex of stećci worth visiting, in the region of town of Stolac and not that far from Radimlja. While less famous than the stećci at Radimlja, Boljuni have a much more atmospheric setting and feature the cross-shaped tombstones.


In the proximity of this complex is Radimlja river and its canyon, a natural monument with a unique eco system. The canyon abounds with unexplored caverns and cave formations. Occasionally growing in patches along the entire length of the canyon are wild grape shrubs and fig trees, as obvious remnants of past habitats.


Stolac is a place with longest and richest history of urban life in Bosnia and Herzegovina, with preserved material testimonies about urban life through the period longer over 3,500 years. Old city Vidoški Grad and Illyrian city Daorson, just to mention some of them.

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