Neretva Wiki

The part of the Neretva river still intact, virginal and pure, denominated as Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty but constantly on the brink of disaster is known as Upper Neretva.
The first section of the Neretva river, upper course of the river is simply called the Upper Neretva (Template:Lang-bs).

"Nera-Etwa" is Celtic for "Divinity that flows" referring to the Neretva (bosnian Božanstvo koje teče); also in Latin: Narenta, Narona, Naro (engish: Narrative, Gurgle)(bosnian: grgoljiva)

Neretva has been harnessed and controlled to a large extent by four HE power-plants with large dams (as higher than 15 meters)[1] and their storage lakes, but it still recognized for its natural beauty[2], diversity of its landscape and visual attractiveness[2][3].

Geography and hydrography

The Neretva distinctive color, cold and pure, drinkable water at Upper Neretva

The Neretva is largest karst river in the Dinaric Alps in the entire eastern part of the Adriatic basin, which belongs to the Adriatic river watershed. The total length is 230 km, of which 208 km are in Bosnia and Herzegovina, while the final 22 km are in the Dubrovnik-Neretva County of Croatia[4][5]. Geographically and hydrographical the Neretva is divided in three section[5]. The upper course of the Neretva river, called the Upper Neretva (Template:Lang-bs), includes vast area around the Neretva, numerous streams and well-springs, three major glacial lakes near the very river and even more scattered across the mountains of Treskavica and Zelengora in wider area of the Upper Neretva, mountains, peaks and forests, flora and fauna of the area. All this natural heritage together with cultural heritage of Upper Neretva, representing rich and valuable resources of Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as Europe.


Topographic map of Borač valley and the Neretva source

Spring and headwaters gorge

Neretva well-spring - One of five springs


One of five Neretva spring branches, in thick and wet forest, approx. 1km from the very source. (by Dinno Kassalo, BiH)

The Neretva river rises beneath the mountain saddle known as Gredelj. Spring of the river Neretva consists of five individual well-springs on the forested and steep slopes of Gredelj ridge. They are difficult to access and even harder to find in a very thick forest. For many years place exists at the border of the oldest National Park in Bosnia and Herzegovina, NP Sutjeska with its primeval forest Perućica, but itself never protected. Borač gorge

Borač valley - view upstream toward the Neretva source

The Neretva headwater gorge is actually a broad valley, up to 1 km wide and 20 kilometers, called Borač. Never the less, because of its position among the great mountain chains, in the heart of Bosnia and Herzegovina Dinaric Alps, Borač has a very steep slope and the Neretva river significant (hydrological) elevation. Several major well-sources significantly complement the Neretva river, among which the most important and with largest quantity of fresh and potable water are Krupac and Pridvorica well-springs. Borač valley, before the Bosnian war, was inhabited mostly by Bosniaks, whose villages were completely destroyed and the people murdered, imprisoned into concentration camp in Kalinovik and deported mostlly to third countries in a broad ethnic cleansing by Serb para-military forces. Some of the villagers now returning to their land, repairing and rebuilding their houses.
The Borač valley ends one kilometer upstream from the entrance to small mountain town of Ulog, where at the same time begins Valley of Ulog.

Ulog valley and Ulog

Ulog after the war - survivors, mostly women and elderly, in short visit to their town

Ulog, ghostly town ethnically cleansed - photo taken immediately after the war

Ulog is a small mountain town in Ulog Valley at the banks of the Upper Neretva river, in the heart of eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina Dinaric Alps, surrounded with great mountain chains of Zelengora, Lelija, Crvanj and Treskavica. The town was formed by the Ottomans, on an old caravan road from Mostar via Nevesinje en route to Istanbul. From Ulog downstream of the Neretva river is wide valley named Ulog Valley. During the Bosnian war, Ulog was suffered extensive destruction from Serb forces, and its civilian population, mostly Bosniaks and some Croats, were completely annihilated, though town and its surrounding never saw significant, if any, battles or military confrontation.

Ulog and begging of Ulog Valley (spreads in direction beyond left edge of the photo)

Today this beautiful and authentic Herzegovinian mountain village is a "ghost village", without its inhabitans, and only rarely visited by Bosniak and Croat survivors, mostly women and elderly.

Župa vally and Glavatičevo

Glavatičevo (left) and part of the large Župa Valley

Župa Valley spreads downstream towards Konjic (Glavatičevo at the right next to photo edge, not visible)

Glavatičevo is a small village in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Village is located 30 kilometers away of Konjic in southeast direction, within a wide Župa vally (also Komska Župa and Konjička Župa) (Template:Lang-en = Template:Lang-bs) on the both banks of the Neretva river, in Konjic Municipality, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Dr. Pavao Anđelić in his book "Spomenici Konjica i okoline" claim that Glavatičevo get name after the name of the local nobleman Glavat or Glavatec.

Neretva River, crystal clear and potable, at Glavatičevo, in Župa valley

Župa Valley - upstream of Glavatičevo, above it Mt. Crvanj

Jablaničko lake and Konjic

Main article: Jablaničko Lake

Jablaničko Lake (Template:Lang-bs) is a large artificially formed lake on the Neretva river, right below Konjic where the Neretva briefly expanding into a wide valley. Rivere provided lot of fertile, agricultural land there, before lake flooded most of it. The lake was created in 1953 after construction of large[1] gravitational a hydroelectric dam near Jablanica in central Bosnia and Herzegovina. The lake has an irregular elongated shape. Its width varies along its length. The lake is a popular vacation destination in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Swimming, boating and especially fishing are popular activities on the lake. Many weekend cottages have been built along the shores of the lake. There are 13 types of fish in the lake's ecosystem.

Towns and villages

Konjic is the only town in Upper Neretva. Villages in the Upper Neretva include Ulog, Glavatičevo,


Natural heritage

Đevića Vir - zaštičeni objekat rješenjem FHR BiH iz 1958

Ljubuča - Gornja Neretva iznad Glavatičeva

Ljubuča-Ocrkavlje - Gornja Neretva iznad Glavatičeva

In dense water system network the Neretva holds a significant position[6][7] among rivers of Dinaric Alps region, regarding its divers ecosystems and habitats, flora and fauna, cultural and historic heritage, but also as Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and most importantly its clean, fresh drinking water[3][8].

Neretva upper course

Main article: Neretva

The Neretva springs are situated deep in the Dinaric Alps at the base of the Zelengora and Lebršnik mountain under the village Jabuka and the Gredelj peak. The Neretva headwaters run in undisturbed rapids and waterfalls, carving steep gorges reaching 600-800 meters in depth through this remote and rugged limestone terrain.
The upper course of Neretva, Upper Neretva (Template:Lang-bs) has water of Class I purity[9] and is almost certainly the coldest river water in the world, often as low as 7-8 degrees Celsius in the summer months.

First section, Upper Neretva, of the Neretva river from its source under the Gredelj peak at 1,227 m.a.s.l. and headwaters gorge all the way to the town of Konjic is 90 km[5], flows from south to north - north-west as most of the Bosnia and Herzegovina rivers belonging to the Danube watershed, and cover some 1,390 km2 with average elevation of 1.2%. Right below Konjic, the Neretva briefly expanding into a wide valley which provides fertile agricultural land. There exists a large Jablaničko Lake, artificially formed after construction of dam near Jablanica.

Second section begins from the confluence of the Neretva and the Rama river between Konjic and Jablanica where the Neretva suddenly takes a southern course and enter a largest canyons of its course, running through steep slopes of magnificent mountains of Prenj, Čvrsnica and Čabulja reaching 800–1200 meters in depth. From here Neretva flows toward the Adriatic Sea.

Streams and Neretva tributaries

Rivers of the Jezernica (also Tatinac), the Gornji and Donji Krupac, the Ljuta, the Jesenica, the Bjelimićka Rijeka, the Slatinica, the Račica, the Dindolka, the Rakitnica, the Konjička Ljuta, the Trešanica, the Neretvica flow into the Neretva from the right, while the Jezernica, the Živašnica (also Živanjski Potok), the Ladjanica, the Župski Krupac, the Bukovica, the Šištica, the Konjička Bijela flow into it from the left.

Rakitnica river

Main article: Rakitnica

Untouched canyon of the Rakitnica river, main tributary of the Neretva at Upper Neretva section.

Rakitnica is the main tributary of the first section of the Neretva river known as Upper Neretva (Template:Lang-bs). The Rakitnica river formed a 26 km long canyon , of its 32 km length, that stretches between Bjelašnica and Visočica to southeast from Sarajevo.[10] From canyon, there is a hiking trail along the ridge of the Rakitnica canyon, which drops 800m below, all the way to famous village of Lukomir. Village is the only remaining traditional semi-nomadic, Bosniak, mountain village in Bosnia and Herzegovina. At almost 1,500m, the village of Lukomir, with its unique stone homes with cherry-wood roof tiles, is the highest and most isolated mountain village in the country. Indeed, access to the village is impossible from the first snows in December until late April and sometimes even later, except by skis or on foot. A newly constructed lodge is now complete to receive guests and hikers.


Uloško lake

Main article: Uloško lake

Boračko lake

Main article: Boračko lake

Blatačko lake

Main article: Blatačko lake

Mountains and forests

Fresh water resources

Water of the Neretva river - clean, cold and under a constant threat.

One of the most valuable natural resource of Bosnia and Herzegovina is freshwater richness[8] contained by an abundant wellspring and clear rivers, indeed, a natural treasure of great importance yet to be evaluated, acknowledge and appreciated[3][8]. From the Drina river on the east to the Una river on the west and from the Sava river on the north to the Adriatic sea on the south, Bosnia and Herzegovina is genuine European freshwater reservoir[8]. Situated in between all these major regional rivers the Neretva basin contain most significant[8] portion of fresh drinking water[3][8]. The Upper Neretva (Template:Lang-bs) water is Class I purity[9] and almost certainly the coldest river water in the world, often as low as 7-8 degrees Celsius in the summer months.

Endemic and endangered species

Neretvanska Mekousna - Neretva's Softmouth trout (Salmo obtusirostris oxyrhynchus)

Glavatica - Marble trout (Salmo marmoratus)

Zubatak trout (Salmo dentex)

Dinaric karst water systems inhabit 25% of the total of 546 fish species in Europe. Watercourses of this area inhabits a large number of endemic species of fish. The river Neretva and its tributaries represent the main drainage system in the east Adriatic watershed and the foremost ichthyofaunal habitat of the region. According to Smith & Darwall (2006) the Neretva river, together with four other areas in the Mediterranean, has the largest number of threatened freshwater fish species.
Degree of endemism in the karst eko-region is greater than 10% of the total number of fish species. Numerous species of fish that inhabited this area live in very narrow and limited areal and are vulnerable, so they are included on the Red List of endangered fish and the IUCN-2006.
Upper Neretva inhabits three endemic and endangered species of fish. All of the endemic of Upper Neretva are rare and endangered trouts, the Neretva indigenous, autochthonal ichthyofauna.


Salmonids fishes from the Neretva basin show considerable variation in morphology, ecology and behaviour. The Neretva also has many other endemic and fragile life forms that are near extinction.
Among most endangered are three endemic species of the Neretva trout: Neretvan Softmouth trout (Template:Lang-bs) (Salmothymus obtusirostris oxyrhinchus Steind.)[11], Toothtrout (Template:Lang-bs also Template:Lang-bs) (Salmo dentex)[12] and Marble trout (Template:Lang-bs also known as Template:Lang-bs) (Salmo marmoratus Cuv.)[13].

All three endemic trout species of the Neretva are endangered mostly due to the habitat destruction or construction of large and major dams (large as higher than 15-20 m; major as over 150-250 m)[1] in particular and hybridization or genetic pollution with introduced, non-native trouts, also from illegal fishing as well as poor management of water and fisheries especially in form of introduction of invasive allochthonous species (dams, overfishing, mismanagement, genetic pollution, invasive species)[14][15].

Ecology and protection

Protected area

Dam problems

Main article: Environmental concerns with electricity generation

The benefits brought by dams have often come at a great environmental and social cost[16][17][18], as dams destroy ecosystems[19] and cause people to lose their homes and livelihoods.

The Neretva and two main tributaries are already harnessed, by four HE power-plants with large dams[1] on Neretva, one HE power-plants with major dam on the Neretva tributary Rama, and two HE power-plants with one major dam[1] on the Trebišnjica river, which is considered as part of the Neretva watershed.

Kanjon Neretve pod Gapićima - tačna lokacija planirane 133 metarske HE "Bjelimići"

Also, the government of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina entity has unveiled plans to build three more hydroelectric power plants with major dams (as over 150.5 meters in height)[1] upstream from the existing plants, beginning with Glavaticevo Hydro Power Plant in the nearby Glavatičevo village, then going even more upstream Bjelimići Hydro Power Plant and Ljubuča Hydro Power Plant located near the villages with a same names; and in addition one more at the Neretva headwaters gorge, near the very source of the river in entity of Republic of Srpska by its entity government. This, if realized, would completely destroyed this jewel among rivers, so its strongly opposed and protested by numerous environmentalist organizations and NGO's, domestic[20] as well as international[21][22][23], who wish for the canyon, considered at least beautiful as the Tara canyon in Bosnia and Herzegovina and nearby Montenegro, to remain untouched and unspoiled, hopefully protected too[3][24].

Moreover, the same Government Of FBiH preparing a parallel plan to form a huge National Park which include entire region of Gornja Neretva (Template:Lang-en), and within Park those three hydroelectric power plants, which is unheard in the history of environmenatal protection. The latest idea is that the park should be divided in two, where the Neretva should be excluded from both and, in fact, become the boundary between parks. This is a cuning plan of engineers and related ministry in Government Of FBiH and should leave the river available for the construction of three large dams, and give them hope in order to remove the fear of contradiction in the plans for environmental protection in the area and the flooding its very heart, in terms of natural values - the Neretva. Of course, such deception failed, because the concerned citizens from the local community are not given bluff, as well as concerned citizens of whole country, and its particularly strongly opposed by NGOs and other institutions and organizations that are interested in establishing the National Park of Upper Neretva towards the professional and scientific principles and not according to the needs of electric energy lobby[17][25][26].

Ecological movement and Battle for Neretva

Bitka za Neretvu - Đevića Vir, reon Neretve zaštičen zakonom FNR BiH 1958

Reminder to collapsed dam disasters

Main article: Vajont Dam
Main article: Val di Stava Dam collapse

Cultural heritage


Main article: Stećci

The Stećci (singular: Stećak) are monumental medieval tombstones that lie scattered across the landscape of Bosnia and Herzegovina. They are the country’s most legendary symbol.Template:Citation needed Although many of them are found in Serbia and Croatia, the vast majority are found within the borders of Bosnia and Herzegovina – 60,000 in all, of which approximately 10,000 are decorated (and sometimes inscribed). Appearing in the 12th century, the stećci reached their peak in the late 14th to 15th centuries, before dying away during the Ottoman occupation. Their most remarkable feature is their decorative motifs, many of which remain enigmatic to this day. Although its origins are within the Bosnian Church, all evidence points to the fact that stećci were erected in due time by adherents of the Serbian Orthodox and Roman Catholic Bosnians alike.

District Komska Župa or Glavatičevo, is full stećci. Some of them, and there are hundreds, are a true rarity. In the necropolis Sanković, at the Grčka glavica (Template:Lang-en), in the area of Biskup village (Template:Lang-en), there are about 115 stećak tombstones. The most famous is the stećak on the grave of Goisava Sanković, from aristocratic Sanković family. Among these decorated stećak, two are decorated with motifs of vines. In Kasići there is a group of five stećak tombstones. One is decorated, and one has a label that was partially damaged, but can nevertheless be translated. In Krupac, in one of two lone stećak, there is a drawing of Crescent. Near Razići, at Crkvine hamlet, there is a huge necropolis of 93 stećak, decorated with the only three interesting themes. In one drawing is the human head, "that makes the spirits go away" and it is likely that below this carving, probably, Bogumil was buried. On the second is carved cross which signified that under this stećak is Christian, while the third stećak have a crescent moon under which, probably, rests local inhabitant who accepted Islam. The hamlet Račica at the place which is called Gromile, there are two lone stećak. One of them has two podiums, which is very rarely. On the Visočica mountain, on the Poljica, in a really great necropolis tombstones are two stećak: Vukosav Lupčić and Rabrena Vukić with inscriptions

Stone bridge

Only remaining stone bridge of Upper Neretva above town of Konjic and its incredible Old Stone Ćuprija (Ćuprija = Bridge), is infect couple of columns remained of old bridge in the center of Glavatičevo village.

Old Stone Ćuprija in Konjic before destruction at the end of WWII

Old Stone Ćuprija before reconstruction in 2006

Old Stone Ćuprija after the reconstruction 2010

Ancient road

Roman road from Narona (Village Vid at Metković) ran over Nevesinjsko field and Dubrava, and on the location of Velika Poljana, near Lipeta, join with main rout. Solid construction of the Roman roads, making it clearly visible even today, from Lipeta to Vrabča. Milestones found in Konjic at the mouth of the Bijela river, in Polje, Borci village, Kuli, Malom Polju near Lipeta, all mentioning Roman emperors Augustus, Dacija, Tacitus, and Philip Augustus. That means that the Romans constructed these roads sometime in 1st century and with significant reconstructed during 3rd century, and continuously used in the Middle Ages as the closest connection from Dubrovnik Republic with trading centers in Bosnia. From Lipeta to Konjic, Roman Road and the Turkish route have been built almost on the same route. During Ottoman rule, there was a vital traffic between Sarajevo and Mostar. How important this road was in the Middle Ages Bosnia, tells us his name: "Džada Mostar", "Great road of Mostar" or "Sarajevo road". Even the Romans had forts to ensure traffic and the protection of passengers on this rout. During the Middle Ages, except fortifications, along the way were build settlements. In Ottoman times along the way were made Karaula (Template:Lang-en), with a mission to protect the passengers. Karaula are placed on peaks, canyons and places that are ideal for the attacker and the most dangerous for passengers. Along the road shelters were build for the night sleep and rest of passing travelers. On the Roman road these shelters were called diversarium. With diversarium was a shop, stable, shelter or barn, blacksmith's shop for repair of wagons and shoeing. After the fall of the Roman Empire, Roman road were neglected. At the time of the Bosnian kings, all the imports and exports of goods going towards Dubrovnik Republic and back. People traveled with caravans and lodged under the starry sky, there were fewer shalters at the time like in Konjic and Vrabč. After the occupation of Bosnia by the Ottoman empire, a new shelters called hans were build. Hans served for lodging and accommodation of travelers called "kiridžija" and their caravans, but also the trade took place in these hans as well. During the Ottoman rule hans were a form of "bed and breakfast" facilities, to meet basic needs, these were buildings with dining room, rooms for passengers, room for hadžije (Template:Lang-en), shops, stables for horses[27].


Main article: History of Bosnia and Herzegovina

Early history

Main article: Early history of Bosnia and Herzegovina

There are a lot of reliable signs and evidences of human life in ancient period of this region. The oldest written record is actually a tombstone from the 2nd century AD raised by Elije Pinnes and Temus, parents of Pinniusu the Roman soldier of the 2.Legion Auxiliary. At the nearby Dernek were found many parts of ceramics from the Roman era. From the Early Stone Age there is no evidence of living in Glavatičevo, although there are signs of ancient inhabitants in wider area. Pieces of ceramics from the Late Stone Age period were found in the sites of Gradac, Lonac and Vijenac near Razići, and sites of Šibenik and Kom near Kašići.

Middle age

Main article: History of Bosnia and Herzegovina (958–1463)

Numerous sources confirm that Glavatičevo area and the wider surrounding countryside, from the XII century until the arrival of the Ottoman empire, was very important for medieval Bosnian Kingdom, apart from the military significant, also, both economically and culturally. Komska Župa (Template:Lang-en = Template:Lang-bs), or area of the current Glavatičevo at that time was a very important road junction. For securing crossing over the Neretva river, near Glavatičevo has built town of Gradac with the citadel. Center of the developed area was the old town of Kom, whose ruins are now preserved on the hard viable top mountain ridge above the village Kašići. The whole Župa area was named after the ancient town of Kom, Komska Župa. Kom was a significant military, economic and cultural center of ancient medieval Bosnian Kingdom and aristocratic Sanković family. The first written document on Kom originate from the XII century, as a part of the famous "Ljetopis popa Dukljanina" by pop Dukljanin (Template:Lang-en). A lot of trading have been happening in Komska Župa at the time. Dubrovnik Republic (also Republic of Ragusa) had a leading role in this. 15th May 1391 Vojvoda (Template:Lang-en = Template:Lang-bs) Radić Sanković issued Charter to Dubrovnik merchants that can trade on its territory, including Komsku Župu. As proof of this trading is discovery of coins from Dubrovnik Republic, as wellas a document from 1381 which mentions the clearance of goods in this region. Thus, in Kom worked custom office. At the end of XIV century Kom are still mentioned as a Župa (Template:Lang-en = Template:Lang-bs). It was rare, because the other noble estates were already called principality. Therefore, the area Kom was continued to be called a Župa and that the name has been preserved to these days. Aristocratic Kosača family governed Komska Župa until the second half of 1465. But two years earlier, 1463, after the war campaign, Turkish Sultan Mehmed II el Fatih conquered the area of Konjic and Kom, but that same year Herceg Stjepan Vukčić Kosača and his sons went to counterattack and restored Kom and its surrounding area. Two years is a peace reigned again, but in constant fear of a new Turkish attack. In mid-1465 The Turkish army under the command of Isa-Beg Isaković invaded the land of Herceg Stjepan and won. That was final fall of Kom. Komska Župa became nahia and has been Kadiluku Blagaj. It can be seen from the list of Bosnian Sandžak from 1469 (During the Ottoman times Bosnia was both a single sanjak, and after 1580 a pashaluk divided into several sanjaks).

Eco-tourism and organic agriculture

Also read

Water bodies Settlements Protected environment and tresures Nature and culture
  • Salmo obtusirostris
  • Salmo dentex
  • Salmo marmoratus
  • Environmental impacts of dams
  • Environment and electricity generation
  • Tourism in Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Stećci
  • Bogomilism
  • List of Illyrian tribes
  • List of Illyrian cities

External links



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  10. BHTourism - Rakitnica
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  19. Environmental Impact of Dams
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  25. Silenced Rivers: The Ecology and Politics of Large Dams, by Patrick McCully, Zed Books, London, 1996
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