Djevojačka Pećina


Useful Information

Location: Brateljevići.
A1/E73 exit Krivoglavci, M18 to Olovo and Kladani, turn left to Brateljevići.
(44.2140265, 18.6457932)
Open: no restrictions.
[2024]
Fee: free.
[2024]
Classification: SpeleologyKarst Cave
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System bring torch
Dimension: L=250 m, W=30 m, H=20 m.
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography:
Address: Djevojačka Pećina, Brateljevići, Tel: +387-.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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History


Description

Djevojačka Pećina (Maiden's Cave) is located south of the village Brateljevićin at the end of the road. It is thus also known as Brateljevićka Pećina (Brateljevića Cave). From the car park it's a 10-minute hike uphill on a long stone staircase, until finally the triangular cave portal is reached. Here another stone staircase leads down into the entrance hall, where are trail of wooden planks was constructed. The cave is developed with trails, but has no light and is not gated. The staircase down into the cave is very wide and has a railing in the center, it was built for a huge number of visitors. The trail was built as a one-way loop. There are actually lamps, but they are only on during special events.

The Maiden's Cave served as a holy place from the Late Paleolithic until the Middle Ages. Religious symbols were found from the early Bronze Age. Later Saint George was worshiped in the cave, even by Muslims. In the entire sacral history of Bosnia, Saint George is one of the key holy persons. He is given the place of good by Islam, as witnessed by a prayer of Uweis el-Kareni, a Yemeni. Since the late 20th century, the cave is a place of summer worship for Kladanje Muslims. On the last Tuesday before Aliđun, in late August, a prayer is recited, and the cave is visited by 20,000-30,000 visitors. A section at the end of the cave is called the mihrab. A ladder was carved into the rock, which serves as a mimber from where the imam speaks the prayer. As a result, the cave is the largest pilgrimage site for Bosnian Muslims together with Ajvatovica near Prusac.

They are quite proud that the prayers may be attended by women. The name Maiden's Cave is the result of a grave of a girl inside the cave, a spot marked by two gravestones. It has become the object of a sort of cult, it is visited mainly by women who leave votive gifts.

A girl went to the cave to get water with a spindle and a bucket in her hand. One version is that there were people in a tavern needing water, but there were no volunteers. An unknown girl briefly said: "I will do it!" The other version says that she was sent in by her brothers waiting outside for her to return. But she never returned. Some say she was killed by ghosts in the cave, some say her heart failed from fear. In the morning, she was found dead. She was buried right next to the well inside the cave. Her grave was soon petrified by flowstone growing on top.

We have no idea why the main legend of this cave is so unsatisfactory. Due to the trail, the cave is quite easy to visit. But the wooden planks are not really a good idea in the damp cave air, the wood starts molding and becomes slippery. We strongly recommend good walking shoes and a good (bright) headlamp for the visit. We also suggest avoiding late August, because the cave is crowded at this time by "believers". That's quite annoying because of the crowd and because of the religious aspect which may be less than holy for non-believers. There is a picnic area with wooden benches at the foot of the hill, but no toilets.

In 1979 M. Hažijahić examined the drawings at the entrance to the cave. They are carved into the rock at both sides of the entrance, unfortunately they are covered by moss and only partly visible. On the left side they are mostly free of moss, and for protection they are fenced off. There are engravings of different age, the oldest are probably some lines and arrows. The scientists see similarities to the carvings in Pećina pod lipom, and they are considered to belong to the youngest period of Lower Paleolithic art. There is also a female which is very similar to so-called venus figures with pronounced hips and breasts from the French Paleolithic. There are also fields with dots and simple depictions of deer belonging to the Early Bronze Age. Depictions of horsemen emerging from the cave probably belong to the Middle Ages. You probably got the main topic of all this: the engravings are old, thus they are important, but unfortunately they are also very hard to interpret and so far there are only theories. The most enigmatic depictions are the figure of a woman with long hair or a cloak over her head, with a triangular face. The second is a circle with holes that follow the line of the circle. And the third is a man with wings, the age and meaning is unclear, some say it's the image of an angel. There are also a large number of inscriptions in Arabic from the Ottoman period.