A VISIT TO MOUNTAIN CHURCH OF SAINT ELIAS IN NATURE PARK BLIDINJE (MASNA LUKA)
I blogged about nature park Blidinje a couple of times already, but I haven't told you who came to the idea of protecting this incredible area in the first place! It was back in 1993 that friar Petar Krasić set to the important work of turning this mountain area into a national park. Thanks to his efforts, in 1995 (only a few years later) Blidinje became a nature park that spans over three municipalities and 364 square kilometers. Today I'll show you where this friar dwells, in a house next to the mountain church of Saint Elias. Located at 1204 meters of altitude and surrounded by breath-taking nature, this mountain church is quite something. I've been meaning to write about this beautiful church of saint Elias the Prophet for ages, but something always got into way. I love mountain churches, they are so romantic. This one especially so! Church of Saint Elias the Prophet is like an oasis in a deep forest.
This wonderfully isolated church of St. Elias in Masna Luka is such an unique and marvelous sight to visit. I remember how impressed I was the first time I laid eyes on it. Since there, the area around the church has gotten even more beautiful. Last time I was there, I noticed new stone houses around it. I did some research and found out that the new structures are in fact an art gallery and a prayer home with 48 rooms. All work of friar Petar! This tireless man works on so many cultural, spiritual and art projects, it's really amazing. He is also the person who preserved and protected an indigenous dog breed 'tornjak'. Thanks to this friar, Bosnia and Herzegovina today has its own dog breed. He even used his connections as an internationally acknowledged dog judge to ensure protection to this area way back in the day. A man of many talents! I actually met this legendary friar years ago, but it is only through online research that I found out how much he has done for Bosnia and Herzegovina. Nature park Blidinje is really important for conservation of wild life and plants. Friar Peter is the founding father of this national park and perhaps we could call him its godfather as well.
MORE INFORMATION ABOUT NATURE PARK BLIDINJE
I've said it before, but I'l say it again- Blidinje nature park is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. I summarized my previous posts about Blidinje in four questions, click them to get more detailed answers or just read the shorter answers I prepared for you.
I recommend getting there by car as it is the easiest way to get around. Most roads leading to Blidinje are perfectly safe. There is only this one that goes through Goranci village that is a bit rocky, but you probably won't use that one (in fact I think only locals know about it). If you're planning on visiting Croatia, you should note that Blidinje is only an hour and a half drive away from the Adriatic sea. There actually are a lot of visitors from Croatia here. Driving through Neretva canon is a pretty good idea as well, just because it is such a great experience.
I can think of a dozen of reasons but here is a few:
- the mountain air will do you good,
- the nature here is amazing,
- this park offers many activities depending on the season (from skiing to hiking),
- you can have your own 'Hajduk Republic' passport made in Hajdučke Vrleti motel,
- this motel also organizes cultural events that are fun to attend,
- Blidinje lake is worth a visit on its own,
- there is a necropolis in the park that you can visit for free,
- besides the church of Saint Elis you can also visit the church of Snow Lady.
Lake Blidinje (Blidinjsko jezero) looks absolutely beautiful. Some day that the park itself was named for it. Be sure to visit my original post about it and see for itself. Lake Blidinje is actually the largest mountain lake in Bosnia and Herzegovina, located at an elevation of 1.885 meters (3.888 feet). This lake isn't very deep, its maximal dept is about 3 meters and its average dept is only 0.5 m. Its width and length are a bit over 2 km, but these two can also vary depending on weather conditions.
Now, a few more words about this mountain church. The first time I visited nature park Blidinje was back in 2013 or 2014 and that was also the first time I visited this church as well. The last time I visited it was the last time I was here, about three years ago. Friar Peter came to work in this area during the eighties, but even prior to that, there were ties connecting him to this place. There was no church or chapel when he started his work, and he first set to renewing the graveyards that were close to abandoned. Once he finished his work with four graveyards (where he build four chapels), he build two churches on two graveyards. The church of Saint Elias was finished in 2005. As you can see, it is a typical mountain church, with an angled roof that keeps the snow away. A bronze door, the work of sculptor Ilija (appropriate since Ilija is Croatian for Elias, hence the artist who made the door shares the name with the church) is especially beautiful. Only around twenty people live permanently in the nature park Blidinje, but church is often filled with people, as it is very popular with the local visitors. I visited this church during the summer, but at this altitude, it can get quite chilly in the winter so bear that in mind if that is when you plan your visit. That would be the history of this church. Once this church and an accompanying house was finished in 2005, friar Peter went on to make an art gallery and a house of prayer. Now, there is a whole complex you can visit in this isolated spot in the mountains and it is a thing of beauty. Let me know what you think. Do you like this mountain church? Do you like mountains and nature parks? Are you a nature lover?
That would be all for today. I hope you have enjoyed this travel post. As always, thank you for visiting and commenting.