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Stecaks - Mediaeval Tombstones

Stecaks - Mediaeval Tombstones is part of the Tentative List in order to qualify for inclusion in the World Heritage List.

Click here for a short description of the site, as delivered by the State Party


Els Slots (The Netherlands):
The Stecaks or Stecci will be a transboundary and serial nomination for 2015, and I think it has a good chance to get inscribed. It's kind of ironic that former enemies Bosnia Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro have joined hands to submit a series of cemeteries and tombstones. As if there aren't enough modern cemeteries around (especially in Mostar) to remind of the 1990's war.

Stecaks are monolithic tombstones, dating from the late Middle Ages. I visited the same site as Assif (see his review below): the Radimlja necropolis in Stolac. This site is one of the largest and most important among the 22 Bosnian parts of the serial nomination. At first sight it is just a collection of white stones in a field. But when I came up close, I noticed all the different decorative carvings that cover most of the tombs. There are crosses of course, and a kind of flowers or trees. But also men on horseback with bow and arrows. And the most enigmatic ones: knights holding up their right hand as if to wave hello.

I spent about half an hour at the site, looking at each tomb from the back and front. I was really enjoying this visit more than I had expected. Sometimes you'd only see the carvings when you're right in front of it. I had arrived by bus from Mostar, some 35 kms and 45 minutes away. The site is signposted, both 5km before and when you're there. It's a field at the right side of the road, bordered by pine trees and the shiny white of the tombstones stands out. You cannot miss it. There's no security at the site, no entrance fee and just a small information panel.

Getting back proved to be more difficult. There's no real bus stop near the site. And the schedule of the buses is unclear. The LP guide writes that there is a bus once an hour, but I doubt that (more like once every 2 hours). I waited for awhile at the kiosk across the road, where the young guy behind the counter took it as his goal to get me back to Mostar. First he planted two chairs and an umbrella beside the road, so we could watch the traffic for any buses and wave them down. When that wasn't a success, he phoned his mother if she wanted to find out from the bus station at what time the bus would leave. Moments later a truck driver stopped for a hamburger and a drink. The boy asked if he had to go to Mostar, and would he take me? The answer was Yes, and so I made my way back in the front cabin of a large truck (for the first time in my life as far as I remember).
Date posted: May 2013
Assif (Germany):
Radimilja is a small cemetery near the road leading to Stolac. It is the most famous Mediaeval cemetery in Herzegovina and has some nice tombstones. It often features on touristic prospectus of the area. The graves belonged to the Bosnian church, a branch of the Orthodox church which died out when Herzegovina became predominantly Muslim with the Ottoman conquest. Nonetheless, local Bosniaks still relate to this church as a symbol of their national (or better ethnic) identity.
The cemetery is easily accissible by car. It is, however, very small and you can finish seeing all of it in about 15 minutes. Nearby Stolac is also on the T-list and atop the hill you can visit the Illyrian town of Daorson.
Date posted: April 2013

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Site info

Stecaks - Mediaeval Tombstones
This site is part of the Tentative list of: Bosnia Herzegovina

Nominated for 2016

Site History:
2011 Tentative list
Submitted as tentative site by State Party

News and links:
» Inscriptions on the Stecaks.

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