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Neretva is the largest river of the eastern part of the Adriaticmarker basin. It has been harnessed and controlled to a large extent by four HE power-plants with large dams (higher than 15 meters) and their storage lakes, but it is still recognized for its natural beauty, diversity of its landscape and visual attractiveness. At its delta, a specific way of human living has developed, which now is passing away.

Freshwater ecosystems have suffered a lot from an increasing population and the associated development pressures. One of the most valuable natural resources of Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker and Croatiamarker is its freshwater richness contained by an abundant wellspring and clear rivers, indeed, a natural treasure of great importance yet to be evaluated, acknowledge and appreciated. From the Drinamarker river on the east to the Unamarker river on the west and from the Sava river on the north to the Adriaticmarker sea on the south, Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker is a genuine European freshwater reservoir. Situated in between all these major regional rivers the Neretva basin contains the most significant portion of fresh drinking water.

In that dense water system network the Neretva holds a significant position among rivers of the Dinaric Alps region, regarding its diverse ecosystems and habitats, flora and fauna, cultural and historic heritage, but also as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and most importantly its clean, fresh drinking water.

Geography and hydrology

The Neretva flows through Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker and Croatiamarker and it is the largest karst river in the Dinaric Alps in the entire eastern part of the Adriaticmarker basin, which belongs to the Adriaticmarker river watershed. The total length is 230 km, of which 208 km are in Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker, while the final 22 km are in the Dubrovnik-Neretva Countymarker of Croatiamarker.The size of the Neretva watershed is 10,380 km2 in total; in Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker 10,110 km2 with the addition of the Trebišnjicamarker river watershed and in Croatiamarker 280 km2. The average discharge at profile Žitomislići in Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker is 233 m3/s and at the mouth in Croatia is 341 m3/s in addition to the Trebišnjicamarker River's 402 m3/s. The Trebišnjicamarker River basin is included in the Neretva watershed due to a physical link of the two basins by the porous karst terrain.

Sections

Geographically and hydrologically the Neretva is divided into three sections.Its source and headwaters gorge are situated deep in the Dinaric Alps at the base of the Zelengora and Lebršnik Mountain, under the Gredelj peak, 1,227 m.a.s.l. The first section of the Neretva courses from its source all the way to the town of Konjicmarker; the Upper Neretvamarker ( ), flows from south to north - north-west as do most Bosnia and Herzegovina rivers belonging to the Danube watershed, and covers some 1,390 km2 with an average elevation of 1.2%. Right below Konjicmarker, the Neretva briefly expands into a wide valley which provides fertile agricultural land. The large Jablaničko Lakemarker was artificially formed after construction of a dam near Jablanicamarker.

The second section begins from the confluence of the Neretva and the Rama River between Konjicmarker and Jablanica where the Neretva suddenly takes a southern course. From Jablanica, the Neretva enters the largest canyons of its course, running through steep slopes of magnificent mountains of Prenj, Čvrsnicamarker and Čabulja reaching 800–1200 meters in depth. Here man once again turned to the river for energy and created three more hydroelectric dams between Jablanica and Mostarmarker. When the Neretva expands for the second and final time, it reaches the third section of its course. Often called the Bosnian and Herzegovinian California, the valley of the downstream Neretva indeed is a true “Golden State” of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia. The last 30 km of the Neretva's stream form an alluvial delta, before the river empties into the Adriatic Seamarker.

Tributaries

Rivers of the Jezernica (also known as the Tatinac), the Gornji and Donji Krupac, the Ljuta (also known as the Dindolka), the Jesenica, the Bjelimićka Rijeka, the Slatinica, the Račica, the Rakitnica, the Konjička Ljuta, the Trešanica, the Neretvica, the Rama, the Doljanka, the Drežanka, the Grabovica, the Radobolja, and the Trebižatmarker flow into the Neretva from the right, while the Jezernica, the Živašnica (also known as the Živanjski Potok), the Ladjanica, the Župski Krupac, the Bukovicamarker, the Šištica, the Konjička Bijela, the Idbar, the Glogošnica, the Mostarska Bijela, the Buna, the Bregavamarker, and the Krupamarker flow into it from the left.

Towns and villages

Towns and villages on the Neretva include Ulog, Glavatičevomarker, Konjicmarker, Čelebići, Ostrožac, Jablanica, Grabovica, Drežnica, Bijelo Poljemarker, Vrapčići, Mostarmarker, Buna villagemarker, the historical town of Blagajmarker, Žitomislići, the historical village of Počiteljmarker, Tasovčićimarker, Čapljinamarker, and Gabelamarker in Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker; and Metkovićmarker, Opuzenmarker, Komin, Rogotinmarker, and Pločemarker in Croatiamarker. The biggest town on the Neretva River is Mostarmarker in Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker.

Upper Neretva

The upper course of the Neretva river is simply called the Upper Neretvamarker ( ), and includes vast area around the Neretva, numerous streams and well-springs, three major glacial lakes near the river and more lakes scattered across the mountains of Treskavicamarker and Zelengora in the wider area of the Upper Neretvamarker, mountains, peaks and forests, flora and fauna of the area. All this natural heritage together with the cultural heritage of the Upper Neretvamarker, represents rich and valuable resources of Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker as well as Europe.

The upper course of the Neretva, Upper Neretvamarker has water of Class I purity and is almost certainly the coldest river water in the world, often as low as 7–8 degrees Celsius in the summer months.Rising from the base of the Zelengora and Lebršnik Mountain, Neretva headwaters run in undisturbed rapids and waterfalls, carving steep gorges reaching 600–800 meters in depth through this remote and rugged limestone terrain.

Rakitnica River

The Rakitnica is the main tributary of the first section of the Neretva River known as the Upper Neretvamarker ( ). The Rakitnica River forms a 26 km long canyon, out of its 32 km length, that stretches between Bjelašnicamarker and Visočicamarker to the southeast from Sarajevomarker.From the canyon, there is a hiking trail along the ridge of the Rakitnica canyon which drops 800 m below, all the way to the famous village of Lukomirmarker. The village is the only remaining traditional semi-nomadic Bosniak mountain village in Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker.At almost 1,500 m, the village of Lukomirmarker, with its unique stone homes with cherry-wood roof tiles, is the highest and most isolated mountain village in the country. Indeed, access to the village is impossible from the first snows in December until late April and sometimes even later, except by skis or on foot. A newly constructed lodge is now complete to receive guests and hikers.

Dam problems

The benefits brought by dams have often come at a great environmental and social cost, as dams destroy ecosystems and cause people to lose their homes and livelihoods.

The Neretva and two main tributaries are already harnessed by four HE power-plants with large dams on the Neretva, one HE power-plant with a major dam on the Neretva tributary Rama, and two HE power-plants with one major dam on the Trebišnjicamarker River, which is considered as part of the Neretva watershed.

In recent times Republic of Srpska entity government finished the infamous project named The Upper Horizons ( ), a huge Hydroelectrical system project which converted underground waters that belonged directly in the Neretva watershed, to the Trebišnjicamarker River's existing HE power-plants as well as some recently erected in the Trebišnjica basinmarker. This project was fiercely opposed not just by NGO's in Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker and abroad, but also by the government of the Republic of Croatiamarker. They unanimously argue that converting waters from the Neretva watershed to the Trebišnjica basinmarker will affect, or even completely destroy by increasing salinity of surface as well as underground waters and every fresh water well-spring on the right bank of the Neretva, internationally recognized Ramsar sites and a protected Nature Park Hutovo Blatomarker in Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker and Nature Park Neretva Delta in Croatiamarker, and more importantly reservoirs of fresh drinkable water and vast agricultural lands in the lower Neretva valley, both in Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker and Croatiamarker. It remains to be seen what will happen as a result of this controversial project.

Also, the government of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina entity has unveiled plans to build three more hydroelectric power plants with major dams (over 150.5 meters in height) upstream from the existing plants, beginning with Glavaticevo Hydro Power Plant in the nearby village of Glavatičevomarker, then going even further upstream to Bjelimići Hydro Power Plant and Ljubuča Hydro Power Plant located near the villages of the same names; and in addition one more at the Neretva headwaters gorge, near the very source of the river in the entity of Republic of Srpska by its entity government. This, if realized, would completely destroy this jewel among rivers, so it is strongly opposed and protested by numerous environmentalist organizations and NGO's, domestic as well as international, who wish for the canyon, considered at least as beautiful as the Taramarker canyon in Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker and nearby Montenegromarker, to remain untouched and unspoiled, and hopefully protected too.

Moreover, the same Government of FBiH is preparing a parallel plan to form a huge National Park which includes the entire region of Gornja Neretva ( ), and within the Park those three hydroelectric power plants, which is unheard in the history of environmenatal protection. The latest idea is that the park should be divided in two, where the Neretva should be excluded from both and, in fact, become the boundary between parks.

This is a cunning plan of engineers and the related ministry in the Government Of FBiH and should leave the river available for the construction of three large dams, and give them hope in order to remove the fear of contradiction in the plans for environmental protection in the area and the flooding its very heart, in terms of natural values – the Neretva. Of course, such deception failed, because the concerned citizens from the local community could not be bluffed, as well as concerned citizens of the whole country, and it is particularly strongly opposed by NGOs and other institutions and organizations that are interested in establishing the National Park of Upper Neretvamarker towards the professional and scientific principles and not according to the needs of the electric energy lobby.

Ecology and protection

Lakes

Jablaničko Lake

Jablaničko Lakemarker ( ) is a large artificially formed lake on the Neretva river, right below Konjicmarker where the Neretva briefly expands into a wide valley. The river provided lot of fertile, agricultural land there, before the lake flooded most of it. The lake was created in 1953 after construction of a large gravitational hydroelectric dam near Jablanicamarker in central Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker.The lake has an irregular elongated shape. Its width varies along its length. The lake is a popular vacation destination in Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker.Swimming, boating and especially fishing are popular activities on the lake. Many weekend cottages have been built along the shores of the lake.There are 13 types of fish in the lake's ecosystem.

But this, in fact, is not an advantage as the lake suffered from poor management of water and fisheries. Without any scientific and management plans or research, local fisheries and angling management introduced alien, non-indigenous or non-native species, either deliberately or accidentally, which did more harm and damage than good. As the Neretva has many endemic and fragile species of fish that are near extinction, introductions of the invasive species, Pike Perch (Stizostedion lucioperca L.), is completely destroying native endemic and highly endangered fish like Strugač (Leuciscus svallize svallize Heck. et Kn.) or (Squalius svallize). and Glavatica (Salmo marmoratus) (also known as Gonjavac)

Wetlands

The valley along the last 30 km of the Neretva River, and the river itself, comprise a remarkable landscape. Downstream from the confluence of its tributaries, the Trebižatmarker and Bregavamarker Rivers, the valley spreads into an alluvial fan covering 20,000 hectares. The upper valley, the 7,411 hectares in Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker, is called Hutovo Blatomarker.

Ramsar site

The Neretva Delta has been recognised as a Ramsar site since 1992, and Hutovo Blatomarker since 2001. Both areas form one integrated Ramsar site that is a natural entity divided by the state border.The Important Bird Areas programme, conducted by Birdlife International, covers protected areas in Croatiamarker and Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker.

Hutovo Blato

Since 1995, Hutovo Blatomarker has been protected as Hutovo Blatomarker Nature Park and managed by a public authority. The whole zone is well protected from human impact and functions as an important habitat for many plants and animals. The historical site Old Fortress Hutovo Blato is in the area of Nature Park.The nature park “Hutovo Blatomarker” is in the south-western part of Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker, 30 km from the city of Mostarmarker and near the Croatian border. It stretches over an area of about 7400 ha and represents one of the richest wetland reserves in Europe. Until 1995, when the cantonal protected area was founded, Hutovo Blatomarker represented an area well-known mainly for its hunting and fishing tourism. Every winter over 200 species of birds find their shelter inside this untouched nature.Visitors can enjoy relaxation, recreational activities in nature, sport-fishing, cycling and the main tourist attraction – photo safari. There is also an educational path providing information on the park and for rising environmental awareness and the need for preservation of the natural heritage of the nature park “Hutovo Blatomarker”.

Gornje Blato-Deransko Lake

The part of the park which kept its original form and almost untouched nature.Gornje Blato-Deransko Lake is supplied by the karstic water sources of the Trebišnjicamarker River, emerging in the proximity of the bordering hills. It is hydro-geologically connected to the Neretva River through its effluent, the Krupa Rivermarker, formed out of five lakes (Škrka, Deranja, Jelim, Orah, Drijen) and by large portions permanently flooded, also isolated by wide groves of reedbebds and trees, thus representing the most interesting preserved area.

Krupa River

The Krupa River is a Neretva left tributary and the main water current of Hutovo Blatomarker, which leads the waters from Gornje Blato and Svitavsko Lake into the Neretva River. The length of Krupa is 9 km with an average depth of 5 meters. The Krupa does not have an actual source, but is actually an arm of Deransko Lake. Also, the Krupa is a unique river in Europe, because the river flows both ways. It flows ‘normally’ from the ‘source’ to the mouth and from the mouth to the ‘source’. This happens when, due to a high water level and a large quantity of water, the river Neretva pushes the Krupa River in the opposite direction.

Neretva Delta

Running past towns and villages in Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker, the Neretva spills out into the Adriatic Seamarker, building a delta of wetlands so rich, it is listed under the Ramsar Convention as internationally important.In this lower valley in Croatiamarker, the Neretva River splinters into multiple courses, creating a delta covering approximately 12,000 hectares. The delta in Croatia has been reduced by extensive land reclamation projects, and now the river flows in just three branches, a drop from the previous twelve. The marshes, lagoons and lakes that once dotted this plain have disappeared and only fragments of the old Mediterraneanmarker wetlands have survived. Hopefully the area of the Neretva Delta will become a Nature Park, as has been proposed. The area presents a variety of habitats which form a beautiful and remarkable landscape. Wetlands, marshes and lagoons, lakes, beaches, rivers, hummocks (limestone hills) and mountains combine into a mosaic of natural habitats of the Neretva Delta, although five protected localities with a total surface of 1,620 ha already exist. These are the ornithological, ichthyologic reserves and the protected landscapes.

Endemic and endangered species

Dinaric karst water systems support 25% of the total of 546 fish species in Europe. Watercourses of this area support a large number of endemic species of fish.The river Neretva and its tributaries represent the main drainage system in the east Adriaticmarker watershed and the foremost ichthyofaunal habitat of the region. According to Smith & Darwall (2006) the Neretva River, together with four other areas in the Mediterraneanmarker, has the largest number of threatened freshwater fish species.

The degree of endemism in the karst ecoregion is greater than 10% of the total number of fish species. Numerous species of fish that inhabited this area live in very narrow and limited areas and are vulnerable, so they are included on the Red List of endangered fish and the IUCN-2006. The Adriaticmarker basin has 88 species of fish, of which 44 are Mediterraneanmarker endemic species, and 41 are Adriatic endemic species. More than half of the Adriaticmarker river basin species of fish inhabit the Neretva, the Omblamarker, the Trebišnjicamarker, the Moračamarker Rivers and their tributaries, and more than 30 are indigenous.

Invasive species

Pike Perch ( ) (Sander lucioperca Linnaeus 1758) (also see Sander ) population in the Neretva River watershed was observed in 1990 for the first time. It was the Rama River, a right tributary of the Neretva, and its Ramsko Lake that received an unknown quantity of this allochthonous species. Analyzing the results of the research, there are a tendency to increase the quantity of Pike Perch in the Neretva accumulation lakes. This fact confirms previous scientific assumptions of Škrijelj (1991, 1995), who predicted the possibility of Pike Perch displacement (migration) from Ramsko Lake to the Rama River (a right tributary of the Neretva), and then further downstream to the river Neretva and lakes on the Neretva.So, from 1.95% of the total fish quantity of Rama Lake in the year 1990, this allochthonous species of fish, in less than a decade that is present in Jablaničko Lakemarker, rose to about 25.42% of all fish.The fast pace of Pike Perch population growth and displacements in the Neretva River basin, is expected to match the environmental conditions from the mid-ecological valence of this fish.In this sense, it is the established continuous and accelerated growth of the population dynamics of Pike Perch in Jablaničko Lakemarker, a relatively good representation in artificial Salakovačko Lake and the beginning of growth of population in the Grabovičko Lake.Parallel with the increase of population of allochthonous species Pike Perch in the Neretva lakes, is the obvious decrease in the quantity of indigenous species like European chub also White Chub ( ) (Squalius cephalus), and the disappearance of rare and endemic species like Adriatic Dace also Balkan Dace ( ; ) (Squalius svallize also Leuciscus svallize Heckel & Kner 1858), Neretvan Softmouth trout ( ) (Salmothymus obtusirostris oxyrhinchus Steind.) and Marble trout ( also known as ) (Salmo marmoratus Cuv.).If this migration and spreading continues, other endangered, endemic and rare species of the Neretva basin will be even more endangered.On the basis of analysis of the obtained data, it can be concluded that the populations of the allochthonous species Pike Perch causes clearly visible negative effects on the autochthonous ichthyofauna in Jablaničko Lakemarker; on autochthonous ichthyofauna of artificial Salakovačko Lake these effects are in progress and less visible, while the population of Pike Perch is in the initial phase of adaptation to existing conditions in Grabovičko Lake and currently not yet clearly visible.

Taking the fact that the introduction of Pike Perch has a substantial impact on the diversity of autochthonal ichthyofauna as a starting point, the population of this species in the Neretva River reservoirs (Jablaničko Lake, Grabovičko Lake and Salakovačko Lake) was investigated. Based on the results of the investigation of the Pike Perch population in the Neretva river “lakes”, it can also be concluded that it is growing with a tendency of spreading across the Neretva river basin of the Adriaticmarker Sea in Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker.On the basis of all relevant indicators it is necessarily to take urgent measures, continuous and organized action, to dramatically reduce the quantity (if is not possible to exterminate) of this allochthonous type of fish, as well as to attempt to revitalize autochthonal fish populations, with fish stocking of local, especially salmonids species, all in order to prevent the same fatal experience with the water ecosystem in the UKmarker, and prevent, if possible, this type of allochtonous species colonization of the Neretva River basins with irreversible effects.

Salmonids

Salmonid fish from the Neretva basin show considerable variation in morphology, ecology and behaviour. The Neretva also has many other endemic and fragile life forms that are near extinction.

Among most endangered are three endemic species of the Neretva trout: Neretvan Softmouth trout ( ) (Salmothymus obtusirostris oxyrhinchus Steind.), Toothtrout ( also ) (Salmo dentex)and Marble trout ( also known as ) (Salmo marmoratus Cuv.).

All three endemic trout species of the Neretva are endangered mostly due to the habitat destruction or construction of large and major dams (large is higher than 15–20 m; major is over 150–250 m) in particular and hybridization or genetic pollution with introduced, non-native trouts, also from illegal fishing as well as poor management of water and fisheries especially in form of introduction of invasive allochthonous species (dams, overfishing, mismanagement, genetic pollution, invasive species).

Cyprinids

Same as the Neretva salmonids, the most endangered of cyprinids (Cyprinidae family) are endemic species.

Especially interesting are five Phoxinellus (sub)species that inhabit isolated karstic plains (fields) of eastern as well as western Herzegovina in Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker, which eventually drain their waters to the Neretva watershed and/or coastal drainages of south-eastern Dalmatia in Croatiamarker.

Karst Minnow ( ) (Phoxinellus metohiensis). It is considered Vulnerable (VU).

South Dalmatian Minnow ( ) (Phoxinellus pstrossii). It is threatened but with Data Deficient (DD) fish vulnerability is not designated on IUCN Red List of Threatened Species Version 2009.1.

Dalmatian Minnow ( ) (Phoxinellus ghetaldii). It is considered Vulnerable (VU).

Adriatic Minnow ( also ) (Phoxinellus alepidotus) endemic to Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker and Croatiamarker, occurs in lowland water bodies, with little current. It is threatened due to pollution and habitat destruction. It is considered Endangered (EN).

Spotted Minnow ( ) (Phoxinellus adspersus), endemic to Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker and Croatiamarker. This species is present in the Tihaljina River, which is fed byunderground waters from Imotsko field and is connected to the Trebižatmarker River viathe Mlada River, and also occurs in Mostarsko Blato wetlands. Fish were found in the source of the Norin River, a right-hand tributary of the lower Neretva at Metkovićmarker, in Croatiamarker, at Kuti Lake, a left-hand tributary of the lower Neretva, at Imotsko field in Crveno Lake and the Vrljika River drainage and near Vrgoracmarker in the Matica River system. It is considered Vulnerable (VU).

Minnow Nase ( ) (Chondrostoma phoxinus) It is considered Critically Endangered (CR)

Neretvan Nase (also Dalmatian Nase and Dalmatian Soiffe) ( ) (Chondrostoma knerii) is a fish species endemic to the Neretva River. Neretvan Nase is mainly distributed in the lower parts and delta of the Neretva River shared between Croatiamarker and Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker, the Neretva left tributary Krupa Rivermarker, Nature Park Hutovo Blatomarker wetlands, and Neretva Delta wetlands. It occurs in water bodies with little current. It is threatened by habitat destruction and pollution. It is considered Vulnerable (VU).

Adriatic Dace also Balkan Dace ( ; ) (Squalius svallize also Leuciscus svallize Heckel & Kner 1858) endemic to Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker and Croatiamarker, also to Montenegromarker and Albaniamarker. Adults inhabit water bodies on the low plains, with little current and in lakes. They feed on invertebrates. It is threatened due to pollution, the habitat destruction and especially due to introduction of other species. It is considered Vulnerable (VU).

Illyric Dace ( ) (Squalius illyricus also Leuciscus illyricus Heckel & Kner 1858) inhabits karstic waters of Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker, Croatiamarker and Albaniamarker. It occurs in water courses on low plains, with little current. It feeds on invertebrates. It is threatened due to habitat destruction, pollution and the introduction of other species. It is considered Near Threatened (NT).

Turskyi Dace ( ) (Leuciscus turskyi also Squalius turskyi turskyi and Telestes turskyi) inhabits karstic waters, Lake Buško Blatomarker in Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker and the Krka and Čikolamarker Rivers in Croatiamarker. It occurs in water courses on the low plains, with little current and in lakes. It feeds on invertebrates. It is threatened due to water abstraction and pollution. It is considered Critically Endangered (CR).

Dalmatian Barbelgudgeon ( ) (Aulopyge hugeli) inhabits karstic streams of Glamocko field, Livanjsko fieldmarker and Duvanjsko field, lakes Buško Blatomarker, Blidinjemarker in Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker and Cetinamarker, Krka and Zrmanjamarker river drainages in Croatiamarker. It occurs in lentic waters, and feeds on plants. The fish is threatened by water pollution and habitat destruction. It is migratory in Livanjsko fieldmarker. It is considered Endangered (EN).

Cobitidae

Neretvan Spined Loach ( ) (Cobitis narentana Karaman, 1928) is an Adriaticmarker watershed endemic fish that inhabits a narrow area of the Neretva watershed in Croatiamarker and Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker (Mrakovčić et al., 2006).In Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker it inhabits only downstream of the Neretva River and its smaller tributaries like the Maticamarker River.In Croatiamarker Neretvanski vijun is a strictly protected species and inhabits only the Neretva delta and its smaller tributaries, the (Norinmarker) and lake systems of the Neretva delta (Baćina lakesmarker, Kuti, Desnemarker, Modro okomarker) (Mrakovčić et al., 2006). It is considered Vulnerable (VU).

Neretva delta endemics

The ichthyofauna of the Neretva delta is rich in endemic species, and there are more than 20 endemic species, of which 18 species are endemic species of the Adriaticmarker watershed, and three endemic species in Croatiamarker. Nearly half (45%) of the total number of species that inhabit this area are included in one of the categories of threat, and are mainly endemic species.

Cultural and historical significance

References to Neretva have been traced as far back as ancient times. In the era of ancient Bosnia and Herzegovina, during the time of Cyclopean masonry and Troymarker, the Neretva was known as Narenta, Narona and Naro(n),
and was home to the ancient Illyrian tribe of Ardiaei. The Neretva provided them life, and turned them into ship makers, seafarers and fishermen that were renowned in ancient times. There have been numerous archaeological discoveries of material and spiritual Illyrian culture, such as the discovery of ancient Illyrian shipwrecks found in Hutovo Blatomarker, in the vicinity of the Neretva River.


Illyrians

The Illyrians are said to have made their appearance on the Balkan peninsula sometime around 1000 BC in the land that would become known as Illyria (Ancient Greek: ; ; see also Illyricum). The appearance of the Illyrians restrained the Thracians, who until then, were the only northern neighbors of the Greeks just to the east. Their lands spanned the coast of the Adriatic and stretched inland, and crossed, the Danube River. The Illyrians lived by hunting, fishing and agriculture. They were known as warriors and pirates. According to the accounts of ancient Greek authors, Illyrians parted from the tribal organisation of their society as early as the 300's B.C., when they started forming their first kingdoms, one of the most notable being the Kingdom of Bardylis. However, the most glorious pages of ancient Illyrian history were written under the Illyrian kingdom of king Agron, himself Ardiaean, succeeded by his widow wife queen Teuta. Roman chronicles hold Queen Teuta responsible for inciting Roman intervention in Illyria and the start of the Illyrian wars of 229 BC and 219 BC, for she allegedly did not suppress Illyrian piracy, but a historic account written by Romans themselves is not necessarily the most objective one. Many modern historians see the "Illyrian piracy" as nothing more than a political excuse of ancient Romans to invade ancient Illyria, and the rest of the ancient Balkans, which they obviously did. During the Illyrian Wars of 229 BC and 219 BC, Romemarker overran the Illyrian settlements (see also *List of ancient cities in Illyria) in the Neretva River valley and suppressed the piracy that had made the Adriatic and Neretva Delta unsafe. Not only did Illyrians fight Greek colonists and Roman occupants, the various tribes and later kingdoms also feuded among themselves. However, the archaeological finds show that the Illyrians also had peaceful trade connections with the Romans. Between the 6th and 8th centuries the Slavs appeared and settled in Illyrian territories while proceeding to assimilate Illyrian tribes in much of what is now Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker, Croatiamarker, Kosovomarker, Montenegromarker, Republic of Macedoniamarker, Serbiamarker, and Sloveniamarker. After the province of Illyricum was divided into Dalmatia and Pannonia in the 10th century, the terms "Illyria" and "Illyrian" would generally go out of use, but would still be used in some circles. The name Illyria was revived by Napoleon for the 'Illyrian Provinces' used to refer to the "South Slavic Provinces" within the Napoleonic French Empire from 1809 to 1813, and the Kingdom of Illyria was part of Austriamarker until 1849, after which time it was not used in the reorganised Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Daorsi

Daors was the name of an Illyrian tribe. Another name of the tribe was Daversi.Daorson (Ancient Greek: Δαορσών) was a Hellenistic city of the Illyrian Daorsi, in Ošanići near Stolacmarker in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Daorson was built on a Bronze Age site, with continuous occupation from the 17th century BC; the principal structures date from the 4th century BC (the cyclopean wall, see also Cyclopean masonry) until the 1st century BC when occupation ceased. Daors also made unique bronze coins.

Ardiaei and Narensii

Their original homeland is said to have been around the modern Neretva River, in present-day Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker. In ancient times this river was known as Narenta/Naro(n)/Narona, and the connotation with the name of an Illyrian tribe Narensii seems obvious. Romans called them "Vardiaei".Narensii (Ardiaei), once an inland tribe, eventually settled on the Adriatic coast/The ancient geographer, Strabo, lists the Ardiaei as one of the three strongest tribes – the other two being the Autariatae and the Dardani. The whole of the mountainous country that stretches alongside Pannonia from the recess of the Adriaticmarker as far as the Rhizonic Gulf and the land of the Ardiaei is Illyrian, falling as it does between the sea and the Pannonian tribes.

Treasures

After intense excavations in the area of Hutovo Blatomarker in the autumn of 2008, archaeologists from Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker University of Mostar and Norwaymarker University of Lundmarker found the very first traces of an Illyrian trading post that is more than two thousand years old.The find is unique in a European perspective and archaeologists have concluded that Desilo, as the location is called, was an important trading post of great significance for contact between the Illyrians and the Romans.Surprisingly large finds have been made in a short period of time. The archaeologists have discovered the ruins of a settlement, the remains of a harbour that probably functioned as a trading post, as well as many sunken boats, fully-laden with wine pitchers – so-called amphorae – from the 1st century B.C.The archaeologist Adam Lindhagen, who has a PhD from the University of Lundmarker and has specialised in Roman wine amphorae, says that this is the most important find of all time from the Illyrian areas.

The Old Bridge

The Old Bridge (Bosnian: Stari mostmarker) was commissioned by Suleiman the Magnificent in 1557 to replace an older wooden suspension bridge of dubious stability. Construction began in 1557 and took nine years: according to the inscription the bridge was completed in 974 AH (Islamic calendar), corresponding to the period between 19 July 1566, and 7 July 1567. Little is known of the building of the bridge, and all that has been preserved in writing are memories and legends and the name of the builder, Mimar Hayruddin (student of the Old/Great Sinan (Mimar Sinan / Koca Sinan), the Ottoman architect). Charged under pain of death to construct a bridge of such unprecedented dimensions, the architect reportedly prepared for his own funeral on the day the scaffolding was finally removed from the completed structure. Upon its completion it was the widest man-made arch in the world. Certain associated technical issues remain a mystery: how the scaffolding was erected, how the stone was transported from one bank to the other, and how the scaffolding remained sound during the long building period. As a result, this bridge can be classed among the greatest architectural works of its time. On 9 November 1993, during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina it was destroyed by Croatian HVO sustained artillery shelling, in attempt to erase any sign of Ottoman architecture in Bosniamarker. After the war, immediate plans were raised to reconstruct the bridge as a symbol of peace and ethnic harmony, literally bridging the two sides of the conflict. It was important to use as much of the original material as possible. Salvage operations, funded by the international community, raised the stones and the remains of the bridge from the river bed. Missing elements or parts that were not usable, were cut from the same quarry where the original stones came from.Now listed as a World Heritage Site, the bridge was rebuilt under the aegis of UNESCOmarker. Its 1,088 stones were shaped according to the original techniques, and the reconstruction cost about €12 million. The grand opening was held on 23 July 2004.

Diving

It is traditional for the young men of the town to leap from the 24 meter high bridge into the Neretva. As the Neretva is very cold, this is a very risky feat and only the most skilled and best trained divers will attempt it. The practice dates back to 1566, the time the bridge was built, and it was held every summer ever since in front of the huge audience. However, the first recorded instance of someone diving off the bridge is from 1664. In 1968 a formal diving competition was inaugurated and held every summer.

Počitelj historical village

Počiteljmarker is situated on a hill near Mostar and is easily accessible by bus. As many other Bosnian sites, this town is Ottoman in its nature. It is a historic fortified town with a hostel (caravanserai) and a hamam underneath it. There is also a traditional mosque which can be visited. During the Bosnian War Pocitelj was badly damaged and most of its residents fled away and never returned. Nonetheless, some Bosniaks still reside in this beautiful town and still enjoy the unique atmosphere of their traditional houses and food.

Mogorjelo

One of the most significant monuments of Roman times in Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker is certainly Mogorjelo, yet another pearl of Neretva's long strand of pearls of ancient cultural and natural heritage sites. Located 1 kilometer south of the town of Čapljinamarker, Mogorjelo remnants of the old Roman suburban Villa Rustica from the 4th century represents ancient Roman agricultural production and estate, mills, bakeries, olive oil refinery and forges.The destruction of the Villa came in the middle of the 4th century, during the invasion of western Goths. Residents who survived invasion and destruction did not have any further opportunities to renew it to its full splendor.There are two theories about the name of Mogorjelo.First one assumes that the place had burnt several times, so the root of the name was derived from a word “burn” (Slavic – goriti). Another theory is that at the end of the 5th century the church was built on the ruins of Villa, and it was dedicated to St. Hermagor – Mogoru, for whom the site was named.

Gabela

Gabelamarker is a rich archeological site on the Neretva bank, situated 5 kilometres south of the town of Čapljinamarker.Among a great number of notable medieval buildings, there are still remains of Old City walls, as well as a sculpture of a stone lion – a symbol of Venetianmarker culture.For its remarkable geostrategic position, Gabelamarker was linked to Homer's most famous work – the Iliad. Mexican Homeric scholar and amateur archeologist Roberto Salinas Price has claimed that Gabelamarker was actually ancient Homer's Troymarker.

Narona

Battle of the Neretva

The famous Battle of Neretva is a 1969 Oscar-nominated motion picture depicting real events from the Second World War and the actual Battle of the Neretva (Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian, Serbo-Croatian: Bitka na Neretvi). Codenamed Fall Weiß, the operation was a German strategic plan for a combined Axis attack launched in early 1943 against the Yugoslav Partisans throughout occupied Yugoslavia during the Second World War. The offensive took place between January and April 1943. The operation is generally known as the Fourth Anti-Partisan Offensive, while it is also known as the Fourth Enemy Offensive (Četvrta neprijateljska ofenziva/ofanziva) or the Battle for the Wounded (Bitka za ranjenike).At some point during the battle, the Partisans were caught in a pocket with their back to the Neretva River. The movie depicts events that happened on the banks of the river Neretva near Jablanica while 20,000 Partisans under command of Marshal Tito struggled to save some 4500 wounded comrades and typhus patients together with the Supreme Headquarters and Main Hospital, against some 150,000 Axis combatants.

See also

Wells, rivers and lakes
Cultural treasures
Protected environment and relating isues
Settlements
Flora and fauna


References

External links




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