Once I saw a picture of the Blagaj Tekija Dervish monastery outside of Mostar I had to see it in person. The beauty of this 600 year old monastery, tucked away in a mountain with a river flowing through it captivated me.
We chose to take a taxi instead of trying to work our car out of the tiny parking lot at our hotel in Mostar. A short and inexpensive drive and we were there. At first J. was apprehensive because there were a few souvenir huts right at the opening of the walk to the monastery. Luckily, there are only a few shops and then we were left to take in the gorgeous Buna river with its rushing water and charming bridges.
I couldn’t get over the feeling we had left the rest of the world behind. Mountains surround the area removing all reminders of life outside of this little space. It was immediately obvious why 600 years ago men decided to build a monastery here.
The river flows fast and furious at Blagaj Tekija. The sound of it rolling over rocks and drops in the riverbed engulfs you as you walk closer to monastery. There are no sounds from the five or six restaurants on the riverbank. It is only water moving through a mountain and down the wide riverbed. It was so beautiful I wanted to stay all day just to feel the cool air coming off of the water and listen to the rush of the water over the moss covered rocks.
Along the way a woman was making fresh pomegranate juice. I heard how delicious it was, and have never had fresh pomegranate juice so we stopped and she made some for us. It was AMAZING. Seriously it was delicious. J. had a stomach ache that day and felt better immediately after drinking it. So, don’t skip the fresh pomegranate juice whenever you can get it.
I have to admit that touring inside the monastery was a bit disappointing. It is made up of several prayer rooms, bedrooms and a bathroom. The rooms are simple and quite small. For us the beauty was definitely outside. The monastery is a humble place and I did appreciate that. It was peaceful and small, making sure to not take away from its natural environment. The Dervish Muslims take a vow of poverty and austerity. They have created a beautiful place in the world, that despite some damage and reconstruction over the years still pays homage to their beliefs and way of life.
If you decide to walk through the rooms make sure you are respectful of the Muslim culture and cover your shoulders and legs. They will offer you a head scarf when you are there if you are a woman.
After visiting the monastery we took our time outside walking across the small bridges and basking in the sunlight. We eventually made our way to a cafe with seating along the rivers edge. Sipping Turkish coffee and watching the river was an absolutely perfect finish to the afternoon.
When in Mostar I think seeing Blagaj Tekija is a must. The taxi fare is cheap if you don’t want to take the bus or drive. If you do take a taxi either have them wait or have someone in the restaurants call one for you, otherwise you could be waiting for one for quite awhile.