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Natural characteristics of Kupres

1. General information about Kupres

Kupres is situated in the south-west of Bosnia and Herzegovina, on Kupres plateau. Surface of the town is 622 km² and it is situated at 1200 meters of altitude. Name Kupres is mentioned officially for the first time in deed of gift of Bosnian king Stjepan Tomašević on 18 September 1461. However, in older historical documents Kupres is mentioned under different names such as Tropolje, Vrhovine, Završje and Zapadne Strane. There are different theories about the origin of the name Kupres. Historians mostly accept interpretation of the name connected to old Illyrian words: kup and rrash(raš). The first word cup stands for deep bowl and the second rrash stands for plain. '' So, kup-raš means cone-shaped plain, i.e. closed basin, which perfectly describes landscape of Kupres that looks like a picture surrounded by 16 mountains. From the older form Kupraš in the course of time developed other names Kupris, Kupres, Kupreš''- in this way name is described by famous Kupres inhabitant fra Miroslav Džaja in his book: ''Sa Kupreške visoravni'' ('' From Kupres plateau'').

After latest war Kupres became part of Herceg-Bosnian county, with Livno as administrative center.

Kupres has extraordinary geographical position since it is crossing of numerous roads in Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as of roads leading to neighbouring Republic Croatia and central European countries. Kupres is equally distant from Split, Banja Luka, Mostar and Sarajevo -120km. When you are arriving to Kupres from any direction basically you are 'climbing' and when you arrive to Kupres in front of you appears huge plain, surrounded by hills and mountain ranges. Kupres and its villages are situated on three fields: Kupres field, Ravno field and Vukovsko Field.

2. Pecularities of Kupres

Pecularities of Kupres are seen in geographical position, relief, altitude, climate, abundant flora and fauna, rich cultural and historic heritage and in generous and warm-hearted people.

2.1 Climate

When we talk about climate in Kupres, it can be said that it is mixture of continental and Mediterranean climate.

Winters are harh, with a lot of snow, Siberian like. Thanks to large amounts of snow, beautiful slopes and altitude, Kupres has been recognised as excellent winter tourist destination long time ago.

While other towns and cities enjoy in spring and lush vegetation, Kupres seems to be in state of hibernation. And then suddenly Mediterranean sun brings nature wake up call. Vegetation grows rapidly and gives us richness of various wild flowers, which is a kind of phenomenon. Summers are warm and sunny. But even during hot summer periods , there is always some zephyr, blowing very gently and it is never too hot. Especially beautiful are fresh evenings, when you can enjoy in walks in Kupres landscape and when you decide it is time to sleep you will definitely need blanket even though it is summer.

Autumn in Kupres can be very pleasant, with a lot of sunny days and without fogs. Such an autumn is called Indian summer by older inhabitants.

2.2 Kupres- place of wild flowers

We are not familiar with the fact if there is a place anywhere in the world with so numerous and diverse wild flowers like you can find on Kupres plateau. During spring and summer it seems as if flowers are competing which one will blossom more beautifully and create colorful flower carpets covering meadows and fields which will change their shape and colour every twenty days. It is no wonder that people who have never visited Kupres think that they received some kind of photoshopped picture when we send them real photographs of Kupres field covered with wild flowers.

Flowers on Kupres plateau are true phenomenon and gift of God, they are constant inspiration for many artists. One of the most famous artworks is painting '' Plateau in blossom'', painted by prominent painter Gabrijel Jurkić. The painting is kept as a national treasure in Art Gallery of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo.

Beauty of Kupres fields in spring and summer cannot be described-it is something that you simply must come and exprience.

Some of the photos of flowers can be seen at our web site www.attivo-kupres.org at gallery of natural beauties.

When we search for solution of our health problems, sometimes we forget that nature has already given us all we need for being healthy and free medicines are at our arm's length.

Kupres plateau is rich in various medicinal herbs. Dr.J. Tucaković conducted a research in 1971 about medicinal herb at Kupres. Dr. Tucaković recognized 92 medicinal and aromatic herbs,out of which 24 are endemic species. Since that was the most detailed research at Kupres area, we present you registered medicinal and aromatic herbs

2.3 Medicinal herbs

2.4. Endemic plant species

These information clearly show that Kupres can be considered as true treasury of medicinal herbs.

The aim of this presentation is to show our guests and tourists how rich Kupres is, to show them treasure that they can enjoy in and pick medicinal herbs while they go for a walk through Kupres lanscapes on fresh air.

We also want to encourage local population to use this treasure in their medicine chests and in commercial purpose but it is also important to draw attention and point out how important is to preserve and respect this immense treasure.

Wild berries growing in our forests: blueberries, rasberries, blacberries, wild apples, pears, cherries, cranberries and others- they are true little treasure which is not used enough.

2.5.Funnel-shaped holes in the limestone formation- Japage

Funnel-shaped holes in the limestone formation Japage are karstic phenomena of Kupres.

They are situated near village Rastičevo.

There are five funnel-shaped holes in the limestone formation which are places on area of 1 km².

2.6.Springs, mountainous rivers and lakes

There are numerous springs of clear and cold drinking water on the slopes of Stožer mountain, situated in the south-east of Kupres. Old people from Kupres will say that there are as many springs as days in the year. Fra Miroslav Džaja in his book '' From Kupres plateau'' describes hidrography of Kupres in a following way: '' Kupres area consists of three hidrographically independent pits: Bajramovac pit in the north, Mrtvica pit in the central part and Milač pit in the south. Hilliest part is soil in Bajramovac pit, where you can find mountain ranges, valleys and funnel-shaped holes in the limestone formation of large size while in the western part you can find spacious plain. In this area small river Mrtvaja flows –its spring is near village Stražbenica, the river flows to northwest and sinks at the end of the field, near village Šemanovci.

At Mrtvica pit the river Mrtvica flows, with its tributary creeks Smrdelj, Karićevac and Jazmak.It flows towards west and north-west and sinks under Kurljaj, more precisely under Jaram.River Milač flows through Milač pit.It is the biggest undercurrent in Kupres. Its spring is in Lupoglava lake, eastern from village Kukavice and in several nearby springs but the river also has its tributaries: Otinovci creek, Kadinovac and Jurkovača and it flows towards southwest. It sinks in Pitome livade, in Rilić field, while during summer season it sinks near village Gornji Malovan. Along with already mentioned rivers, there are more than 20 funnel-shaped holes in the limestone formation and clay ground where water stays and creates small lakes 100-200m in diameter. Some of them have their own springs''.

Considering the fact that water streams at Kupres plateau flow towards the Adriatic and Black Sea, Kupres is famous as a watershed of the Adriatic and Black Sea territory drained by a river basin.

The largest and most beautiful lake in municipality Kupres is Kukavice lake near village Kukavice. It is glacial lake with area of 3750 m², it is very rich in crabs and trouts. Kukavice lake is situated in the beautiful landscape, surrounded by coniferous forest. Besides Kukavice lake there are also two smaller glacial lakes: Turjača with area of 2500 m² and Rastičevo with area of 1900 m².

3. Cultural and historic heritage of Kupres

We are not going to describe historic periods and event at Kupres. This is not necessary thanks to our Miroslav Džaja who together with Krunoslav Draganović wrote monograph of Kupres area under title '' From Kupres Plateau''. This book, with its 530 pages, is a place where you can find everything that you want to know about Kupres. This prominent man put a lot of effort in his attempt to keep the memory of many historic events, cultural and historic heritage of Kupres area. Our Džaja calls his work 'a humble monograph of his hometown'. This book is a true treasory of everything that happened and what remained to us, it is a memory of certain periods from prehistoric time till World War II.In this monograph you can also find list of villages, families, data about migrations, customs and all other details relevant for Kupres.

Archelogists Šefik Bešlagić, Patsch, Ivo Bojanovski, Haid Hadžibegić, Mehmed Mujezinović and Alojz benac gave enormous contribution with their field work and research connected to Kupres area as well as in helping Džaja while writing monograph. Recent historic events at Kupres are described by Davor Marijan ( Battles for Kupres 1992) and fra Ćiro Lovrić ( 1000 Days Without Kupres)

At Kupres area dwelled natives- nomads, Illyrians, Celts, Romans, Byzanthians, Goths, Croats, Turks and in the course of historic events Kupres became part of Austria-Hungarian Monarchy, then part of State of Serbs, Croats and Slovenians. After World War II Kupres was part of Bosnia and Herzegovina which was part of Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia till 1992 when Homeland War began. Every civilization and government left their traces and historic legacy at this area.

First traces of living and settlements inKupres are recorded 3000 BC. Cause for such an early traces of settlement and constant invasions of different conquerors can be seen in interesting geostrategic position of Kupres, its enormous spaciousness and in natural beauties and lanscape which is not so often to see anywhere else.It should be pointed out that history of Kupres , like in many other places can be traced back to time when man started dressing stone, making tools, pottery and leaving visible material traces.That is the reason why we call this period beginnings, because we have evidence of living at this area. What had happened before this period, were there any inhabitants , that is something that we can only guess. We also don't know which nation these natives belonged to.

3.1 Grave mounds

Evidence of life in Kupres in period before Christ can be found in ruins of castles, stone tools and numerous grave mounds. Many scientists conducted research of these grave mounds among which are: Đuro Basler in 1953, Šefik Bešlagić in 1954 and archelogist Alojz Benac in 1986, who conducted the most detailed research and registered 51 grave mounds in Kupres area.Besides recognizing and identifying of grave mounds , Alojz Benac dug out one of the grave mounds and discovered something extraordinary. In the center of the grave mound there was wooden case with the body wrapped in woolen cape.

Burried man was one of the tribal or clan chiefs. Woolen cape is the oldest and biggest in Europe from that period. Cape is 3680 years old and belongs to period of early bronze age.Until this discovery, the oldest piece of woolen cloth was the dress found in woman grave in Denmark. Textile found in grave in Kupres is 200 or 300 years older than Danish one and it is also bigger. Valuable findings from the grave mound are kept at Franciscian museum and art gallery in Gorica, Livno.

Grave mound near village Otinovci draws attention of local people and passers-by for thousands of years. Near this grave mound there is a pile of large stones with red patina. There are many legends and myths connected to this grave mound that have been told and retold for generations.

3.1. Ruins of castles

Ruins of castles are remains of material culture of prehistoric inhabitants, primarily Ilyirians, and they testify about their life in Kupres. Ruins of castles can be found on different locations in Kupres: Poganac near Kupres, Vrila, Ravno.

Famous archeologist Đuro Basler wrote in his research work: Prehistoric ruins of castles and their preservation:

On Gradac above village Ravno (Kupres) there is partially preserved wall ( on drawing,sl labelled with ''A'') where traces of old construction can be seen. Its thickness is 170 cm and it had been built in a way that frame is made from larger stones ( 80 to 90 cm long) and after that smaller stones are thrown into the frame.( pictures 6 and 7). Free non-built space 215 cm wide was used as entrance. Terrain conditions at the area, architecture itself and lack of movable archaelogical material give impression that this part of Gradac in Ravno was used as cattle-pound for keeping cattle, while near it there was building for protection of people ( in plan labelled with ''B'') where due to disrepair in Roman period a general wall reconstruction had been done and mortar used to join stones.

Ruins of castle in village Vrila, Kupres show traces of jobs and activities of their inhabitants.

Gradac above village Ravno- view from east side on fortification ''B''. Behind distal wall hill is descending towards Ravanjska vrata (Ravno gate) which are closed at the other side with another ruins of castle.Gradac is not fortified on the north side because at this side hill is steep and goes deep into valley and in this way it provides natural protection( Photo taken by Đ.Basler 1952).

3.3 Medieval tombstones

Kupres area is rich in numerous and artistically decorated medieval tombstones or mašeta as they are called in Kupres.

Bešlagić counted 1055 tombstones, but he claims that there are more than 1055. They originated in Medieval period.

Graveyard Ravanjska vrata ( Ravno gate) is nominated to be enlisted in UNESCO list of world heritage. Thick walls are made as a shelter and protection of cattle, breeded by their owners.

3.4 Roman basilica in Otinovci

One of the most important remains from Roman period are foundations of Roman basilica in village Otinovci, Kupres

3.5 Queen Katarina Kosača Kotromanić in Kupres

Bosnian queen Katarina started construction of votive church dedicated to Holy Trinity in 1447. The church was built on foundations of Roman basilica one year after queen got married to penultimate Bosnian king Stjepan Tomašević.When Pope heard about her intentions he sent special papal bull in which was written: ''All pilgrims to church of Holy Trinity, which is built by queen Katarina, are to be given special and complete forgivness of their sins. Pope Nicholas V, 18 June 1447''. From that time up to today pilgrims are coming to Otinovce.

Above Begovo selo, near ski-center Stožer, there is a spring Kraljevac and near the spring there is a slope Velika i Mala Kraljeva Lazina( Little and Big King's slope) , which confirms hypothesis that Bosnian king Stjepan Tomaš and his queen Katarina spent time here. They had king's summer villa or hunting lodge in this area.

During Ottoman conquest ,queen Katarina escaped to Kozograd near Fojnica, then to Dubrovnik and via Ancona to Rome, where she died on 25 October 1478.

3.6. Grave of Čota

Jakov Čota was the last priest saying mass from Glagolitic (old Croatian ) missal in Kupres. He was remembered as an extraordinary and loved priest. Matko Džaja wrote about this priest: ''There wasn't a priest in Kupres who has been remembered an loved in a way Čota was remembered , even though there were many good and dilligent priests.''

Priest Jakov Čota was worshiped both by Catholics and members of Orthodox Church. When he died they fought to whom he belonged. There is a story that members of Orthodox Church stole Čota's body from his grave, and Catholics brought him back to his grave.

Accoding to folkstale , Dragun Lovrić from Blagaj dug out Čota's grave in 1942 and found his body completely preserved. He took glagolitic breviary from the grave. Parish priest ordered him to return everything to the grave.

After World War II, in 1966 congregation of Rastičevo parish and their priest Marijan Klopić, built chapel on Čota's grave. Today the grave is protected by newly-built chapel. Pilgrims come and pray to their Čota, who they consider as blessed and saint, although he was not officially proclaimed saint by Church.

3.7. Days of Mowing- '' Strljanica''

Days of Mowing is traditional cultural, agricultural, sport and tourist manifestation in Kupres, among people known as '' Strljanica''. It is held every year on Kupres field, in the beginning of July, more precisely on first Sunday in July. Days of Mowing was inspiration for famous artist Šime Strikoman, who took famous Millenium photography ' Haymakers'

3.8Croatian Cultural Society Napredak (HKD Napredak)

Croatian cultural society '' Napredak'', branch Kupres started with work in 1905, when it was founded as society for financial support to poor students. At the end of World War II it was forbidden,and in 1990 it was restored.

HKD Napredak organises variety of activities and most important ones are cultural activities and support to students.Branch in Kupres is a part of society which centre is in Sarajevo. As parts of Kupres branch there are:

  1. Foundation for students grants and scholarships for high school and university students.
  2. Music school '' Don Dragutin Alaupović''
  3. KUD '' Stožer''

KUD ''Stožer'' deals with cultural activities. There are many groups within KUD ''Stožer'' which accomplished remearkable results. The most active group is folklore dance group, which preserves national treasure of Kupres area as well as songs and customs from Bosnia and Herzegovina. We are especially proud of our national folk costume which was saved and preserved from oblivion.

Besides folklore dances group also consists of choir and tambura orchestra. Society counts more than 100 members, all of which are volunteers. Society performed at many concerts, festivals and manifestations in Bosnia and Herzegovina and abroad ( Croatia and Italy).

3.9 Etnographic exhibition of Kupres area

If you want to feel the magic of Kupres in the past, you are at the right place. Permanent etnographic exhibition is located at Hrvatski dom Kupres at the area of 260m² and there are 300 exhibits gathered at Kupres area and surrounding area. Here you can see old traditional folk costume that local people are very proud of because it is one of the most beautiful folk costumes of the area.

You can also see objects and exhibitis connected to traditional craftwork, embroidering and handicraft from past.

4. Gastronomy of Kupres

Kupres, place of healthy food and natural beverages productions

Kupres has been famous for cattle breeding from the early times due to vast area od pastures and meadows. There are pastures and meadows rich in fragrant grass and medicinal herbs. This is the reason why there is no need for preparing ensilage and cattle breeding with usage of concentrate food. Although local people know that yields would be higher if they turn to intensive breeding, they are not willing to accept this type of cattle breeding.

Only manure is used to fertilize ploughland and that is the reason why products from Kupres land are healthy and of excellent quality. Milk produced at Kupres has excellent qualitative parametres, which looked surprising for many European experts who did analyses and research( milk fat, proteins etc)

Veal and lamb from Kupres are characterized by extraordinary quality. One of the most famous specialities is lamb on the spit.

Various types of cheese and cream also have hundred year old tradition of production in Kupres. Hundred and fifty years ago cheese from Kupres was served at Vienna courts and castles. There are two dairies in Kupres today: Kupreška mljekara and Eko flora, Kupres, which produce hard and halfhard cheese of extraordinary quality.

There are also numerous vegetables grown in Kupres and the most famous one is potato famous for excellent quality.

People also produce honey which is extraordinary due to rich flora and it has medicinal characteristics.

Even though spirits are not produced in Kupres, many locals produce various herb brandies which possess medicinal characteristics. When you visit Kupres, you will be offered with some of herb brandies which are always homemade. Don't refuse it, because it is a cure since locals will never use anything that is not homemade and natural. Herb brandies are always made of medicinal and aromatic herbs that can be found in Kupres.

Kupres is very rich in dog-rose. It is usually used for jam production, for preparation of tea and soft drinks of top quality.

5. Restaurants

There are 7 restaurants in Kupres, where you can try traditional meals but also you can order a la carte.

  1. Restaurant in hotel '' Maestral''
  2. Boarding house '' Kraljica''
  3. Restaurant '' Knez''
  4. Restaurant '' Kupres''
  5. Restaurant '' Bibac''
  6. Restaurant '' Ognjišta''
  7. Kupreška kuća

Besides these restaurants you can also eat in retail store Kupres and there are also numerous bars.

6. Accommodation

Besides mentioned hotels there are approximately 60 family homes which offer suites and apartments for accommodation.

7. Kupres during winter

Kupres is a famous tourist destination, especially during winter season.

There are numerous hotels and other types of accommodation to choose and enjoy in your stay.

Skiing, sleighing, snowboarding, snowmobile riding, sleighing in horse-pulled carriage, night skiing , school of skiing, renting ski equipment, gym, sauna, disco and excellent food choice are things that guarantee great vacation.

8. Summer time

We have already tried to describe Kupres in summer. Just a short reminder of possible activities that you can take part in during your stay in Kupres at summer:

  • Horse riding, school of horse riding
  • Cycling
  • Moto-cross
  • Paragliding
  • Days of Mowing '' Strljanica''
  • Walking in the nature, enjoying in fresh air
  • Hunting and fishing
  • Picking medicinal herbs and wild berries

KUPRES - TOURIST GUIDE