Izvor Buna

Vrelo Bune

Useful Information

Location: Near Blagaj, south of Mostar, Herzegovina-Neretva Canton. Mostar-Dubrovnik road, turn off towards Nevesinje. Behind Blagaj at the former trout farm.
Open: no restictions [1986]
Fee: none [1986]
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave
Dimension: P average = 43.000 l/s, P min = 3,000 l/s, P max = 123,000 l/s. T=8°C.
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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1663 first mention of Tekke in Blagaj.
1851 first reconstruction of Tekke.
1951 rock slides caused major damages to the Tekke, restoration by the Institute for Protection of Cultural Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
1952 dervishes expelled from the Tekke.
2012 restoring the authentic look to Tekke.


Anne Oldham and her daughter Christina describe a trip taken in 1986:

[At Mostar] Then we set off for the largest karst spring in Europe, Izvor Buna at Blagaj. From Mostar you take the Dubrovnik road, and turn off towards Nevesinje. Keep straight on past the airfield towards Blagaj, straight through the village, and park beside the trout farm. The cave is a few meters beyond this.

You cannot actually enter the cave, a wide rock arch about 4.5m high, from which the spring resurges, without a boat. It has a flow of 26-46 cubic litres per second, or a 6m wide rushing river to most of us, and soon sumps a little way into the cave. The engulfment is in the Nevisinjsko Polje, 19.5m away where the river Zalomska sinks.

There is a legend attached to the cave. A dragon used to live there and each year he came forth to capture and devour a local maiden. One year he chose Milica, daughter of the ruler Herceg Stefan. As he was about to carry her off, a local dervish, Sari Saltuk, who was madly in love with her, leapt to her rescue and killed the dragon. Her father was so grateful he allowed the couple to marry and a Tarka or Turkish House was built on the site. The cave entrance which can be seen higher up and 300m to the right of the spring is the Green Cave where Neolithic and other remains have been found.

from: Anne Oldham: Yugoslavia 1986. Published privately by the author. pp 63 illus. With kind permission.

The main Buna spring is actualy a resurgence of a cave river, a huge cavern which is mostly waterfilled. There are numerous side branches of the Buna, some forming impressive gorges, which are dry most of the year. Many of those springs are reactivated only during time of high water level, during snow melt and sometimes after heavy rains. The Buna spring is called the largest karst spring in Europe, with a production of 43.000 l/s in average. Depending on the season this may change between 3,000 l/s and 123,000 l/s.

The most impressive thing about this spring is probably not its production, but its unique location. The river emerges from a huge protal at the foot of a 200m high limestone cliff. The water is dammed only a few meters from the spring, as the water power and the water were used for centuries. The river is surrounded by hstoric buildings. The building closest to the spring is a former Islamic monastery from the 15th century named Blagaj Tekija (Tekke House). Today it houses the Visitor Center of the spring. It was renovated a few years ago, as the 600 years old building were destroyed more than 100 years ago.

Right below there are four restaurants built along the spring. The restaurant Riblji restoran "Mlinica" is located directly at the monastery, with a terrasse at water level. The restaurant "Vrelo" is only a few meters down the river in the former trout farm. It is quite huge and has terrasses on both sides of the river, and the river is flowing through the restaurant. Then there is Restoran "Hladovina" and at last Restoran "Biser". All of them serve the local trout, which is farmed in the abundant water of the spring.

The place has always been popular, but lately it became quite well developed. Once the Balkan War ended the tourism revived and now there are more than 10,000 visitors per year [2014]. This is there reason why there are now so many restaurants at the location.