A short hop on a bus from Mostar takes me to the village of Blagaj, directly south of the famous bridge city. A pleasant walk takes me past some houses and river views, until I arrive at a small complex of low-rise buildings that seem to be glued to the steep cliffs. There are restaurants on the banks of the river Buna, and right ahead of me, I see a modern, white building where men are busy working. It is only when I pass this building, that I finally see what I came to see: the Sufi monastery, or tekke, or tekija, of Blagaj. The building is also white, and when I walk down the stairs, I see that they lead right into the water of the Buna river. The tekke is built with its back against the vertical cliffs that hang over it.
Standing at the banks of the river, I now see an opening in the rocky wall, behind which I know is the source of the Buna river. The water is cold; unfortunately, there is a clear sign prohibiting swimming in it. I walk up the house, and enter it. While from the outside, it looks simple, inside, it turns out to be beautifully decorated. There is a small room with the tombs clad in green cloth of two Tajik dervishes, who lived here in the 15th century, and who still rest at this spot. There are several other rooms, some of which have finely crafted and painted wooden ceilings with glass lamps. There are floral motifs, the inevitable crescent moon, stars: i sit on the floor and look up to soak it all in. The doorposts are made of dark wood, and some have calligraphy in Arabic over the entrance.
There are rooms with wooden closets, these are also decorated with fine painting. There is a bare bathroom with a starry motif carved out of the ceiling. There are several documents on the walls with calligraphy and images. I am happy I am early and can enjoy the tekke in silence; when I leave, a large crowd of school kids arrive. I walk a small bridge spanning the Buna river, and then walk to the cliffs again on the other side, from which I have a better view of how the Sufi monastery is actually built into the face of the cliffs. I see people on the other side, on the stairs leading down to the river; they take a big spoon on the wall and drink a sip of the fresh Buna river. I realize this must be very clean water, and follow suit before returning to the village.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Blagaj Tekke (Bosnia and Herzegovina). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Blagaj Tekke. Read more about this site.