Umoljani Village loop hike on Bjelašnica Mountain. The hike starts in Umoljani Village and goes to Gradina summer shepherd settlement, over Studeni Potok Valley to the entrance into Rakitnica Canyon.
While we were still in Sarajevo preparing for departure and during our drive to our destination, it was typical spring weather – sun, occasional downpour and a little bit of hail.
After about an hour and a half, we arrived in Umoljani Village, situated on the southern slopes of Bjelašnica Mountain at 1.353 meters above sea level. This area is known as Bjelašnica Plateau and as “lower” Bjelašnica. It is full of paddocks and beautiful green meadows covered with wildflowers. First, we had a homemade lunch at Umoljani Pension and then started our hiking round trip.
The Survival of Umoljani Mosque
On the right side at the beginning of the village of Umoljani, there is a traditional style Bosnian Mosque. It is said that this is one of the oldest mosques in Bosnia. The roof of the minaret is adapted to high snows in winter seasons. During the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia, the whole village was burned down apart from this Mosque, that stayed untouched.
One of the stories that are spread among the local population from generation to generation is a story of the survival of the Mosque. The mosque was spared by the same JNA officer whose mysteriously ill son was, in the early 1990s, healed by the hodza in Umoljani Mosque.
From here we hiked to the seven beautiful small watermills used for centuries in preparation of flour. They are situated on the slopes of the village, on the left side, at the water spring called Sedrenik.
We continued further until we caught sight of a beautiful 26 km long Rakitnica River canyon, that separates Bjelašnica and Visočica Mountains and stretches to the southwest of Sarajevo. It is one of the deepest canyons in Europe and wonder of wild nature. Here we had our first break and enjoyed a wonderful view over Rakitnica Canyon and Drstva and Toholj Peaks of Mt. Visočica. A little bit of snow still retained only on the peaks.
The legend about a Dragon
After a short break, we continued uphill until a beautiful field called Studeno Polje opened itself before us. Through the field flows Studeni Potok Stream (The Cold Creek), which has a shape similar to the snake movement in the sand.
Legend has it that once upon a time people of Umoljani Village were attacked by a terrible big dragon with snake shaped body that came from Rakitnica Canyon. The villagers prayed to God to protect them against the dragon. Prayers were answered and the dragon was petrified in the stone on the Posiljak Hill, just above the village. It is believed that Umoljani means ‘of the prayers’.
From Seasonal Settlement to Village
According to scientific data, since ancient times, the south-eastern area of Bjelašnica have attracted shepherds from Herzegovina, where animal feed is poor in summer. Most of the villages have grown over the time from seasonal settlements or mahalas, as the shepherds called them. Therefore, present-day inhabitants of this area are of Herzegovina origins, and the name of the village of Umoljani comes from “Humljani”.
Through the pastures and valleys
Walking through the filed, we came to a spring of Studeni Potok creek. We poured water in our bottles and enjoyed in the delicious taste of spring water.
Continuing further behind the hill beautiful shepherd’s summer village of Gradina welcomed us. It is situated just above Umoljani Village. Summer pasture settlement of Gradina was already settled in prehistoric times. Here, one has a feeling as if time has stopped. The houses are small, made from stone and sheet metal. Peace and quiet are disturbed only by the wind, which is often very sharp and cold.
From here to the village of Umoljani the path is gravel and just before the village turns into asphalt. Going down the path we passed by the hill were legendary dragon was petrified in the stone. In the massive rock, we saw a strange shape that looks like a dragon.
We came to the village of Umoljani, our starting and ending point, and finished our round trip on Bjelasnica Mountain. The weather was perfect while we were hiking. The sun was shining and there were no downpours, so we didn’t need to use our spare clothes. Traveling back to town I enjoyed driving through the beautiful beech forest and watching a sunset over the city and Trebevic Mountain.