How many of you know that when you climb up Mt. Orjen above Risan you can come across the ruins of what was once the biggest bakery in the Balkans and the second largest in Europe?
Most of the locals know that Crkvice is famous as the place with the largest annual rainfall in Europe. It is much less well known that this region is nonetheless surprisingly dry due to having the one of the deepest layers of limestone in the world. This leads to unique conditions that are characteristic of very rare habitats.
Here vegetation provides food and shelter for birds and other animals, but also hides stone ruins, remnants of once-magnificent human constructions. Some 100 years ago, Crkvice provided food for the whole of the Bay of Kotor and further afield. The stone ruins are the remnants of an old bakery that used to be the largest bakery in the Balkans and produced over 24 tons of bread a day. At that time, there were 150 buildings here, whose remains today speak of grandeur and transience. Today, it is little-known that 10,000 people used to live here, enjoying all the luxuries of that period. The moss-covered stone ruins once made up a complex belonging to the Austro-Hungarian army, with a hotel, tennis court, bowling alley, football field with stands for 1,000 spectators, cinema, brothel, church, bakery, hospital, stables, and even a funicular.
Thanks to the project “The Southern Dinarides’ Eco and Cultural Tourism Actions” and the financial assistance of the European Union, it is no longer hard for visitors to discover the hidden landscapes and wildlife of this region.
“The trails have been cleared, tourist information boards have been put up, and now a foreigner who goes on this tour has all the information they need here. And not only do they have it on the site, but it is also available in hiking clubs and all the places where tourist services are offered. For example, if tourists stop for a coffee somewhere, they will find a map of the mountain with all the information that can inspire them to go there”, says Jovana Janjušević from the Centre for the Protection and Research of Birds (CZIP), which implemented the project together with the Faculty of Economics in Sarajevo, the Municipality of Plužine and the NGO Eco Boka.
They have captured the beauty of this area in the video “Crkvice – Embraced by Nature”, which premiered at the EU Info Centre on 11 November, and now can be seen here.
The magic of the Piva Nature Park is perhaps even less well-known. In 35 locations, Piva hides a whopping 787 medieval standing tombstones, “stećci”. One of these locations, due to the magical charge generated in the collision between Piva and Durmitor, is called the Montenegrin Stonehenge. Some of them were recently entered into the UNESCO World Heritage List. Stećci are scattered throughout the meadows and mountains of Piva, which makes the search for them a real adventure.
Thanks to the CZIP’s project, it is difficult for travellers to get lost, because a map of the area has been produced, and the local inns and ethno-villages are armed with helpful instructions. “In addition, in Pluzine, an interactive display has been installed through which anyone can access the offer of Piva, 24/7”, says Janjušević.
Another unique feature of this region is that here birdwatchers can come across all ten European species of woodpeckers, also known as “bird astronauts”. Why astronauts? Because this unique bird, while searching for insects hiding under the bark, hits the tree with its beak with a force that is 1,200 times stronger than the force of gravity, 250 times more force than astronauts experience during lift-off!
The beauty of this tourist trail can be seen in the video, “Piva – The Quest for Stećci”, which is also funded by the European Union and which had its premiere in the EU Info Centre.
The little-known skills and abilities of local women have also been successfully included in the tourist offer. Their handicrafts have been given an internet platform for promotion, and can also be purchased in tourist centres. This is a step forward towards a new concept of the economy in which nature itself becomes a source of income for the local population.
The contents of this news item are the sole responsibility of the EU Info Centre and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union.