Waterfalls and Watermills

Today I visited visit the towns of Jajce and Travnik. Whilst Jajce is further than Travnik from Sarajevo, I had to visit there first as I’d reserved a hotel in Travnik (there weren’t many accommodation choices in Jajce).

I left Sarajevo at 9.30am and passed my hotel in Travnik at 11.00am. Too early to check-in, I kept driving and was in the town centre of Jajce by 12.15pm. Parking was hard to find as the town was very busy, but I found a spot with a one-hour limit. Enough time to visit the waterfall and have a quick look around the town centre.

Plitva Waterfall in Jajce, Bosnia
Pliva Waterfall in Jajce, Bosnia
The guy standing at the top of the falls gives an idea of the height of them (22 metres)
The guy standing at the top of the falls gives an idea of the height of them (22 metres)

Having seen the Pliva waterfall in Jajce, I started to follow the road along the Pliva River, heading upstream. I wanted to find a collection of watermills that I’d seen online. One online source said the mills were in the town of Jezero whilst another showed them on a map near the town of Prisole. I couldn’t find GPS coordinates for them, so I left Jajce and stayed on the road that followed the river, looking out for the watermills along the way. I kept driving, without any sightings, until I saw a sign saying the source of the Pliva River was 5km ahead of me. I’d clearly missed the watermills.

I stopped and asked for directions from a helpful family. I showed them a photo of the watermills on my laptop and they confirmed that the mills were some distance back towards Jajce. However, I was told that if I continue to the source of the river, there are a couple of mills there. I’d gone that far and it was only a few km more, so on I went. Towards the source of the river, the paved road ends and a dirt track continues. I followed the dirt track as it ran alongside the river and then I saw a man leading some cattle along the track. I greeted him and gestured that I was looking for water mills. He kindly pointed me across a small bridge and nodded when I asked if I could take a look (all of this communication was basically non-verbal as we didn’t speak each other’s language). I walked across the bridge and found a couple of mill buildings. A brand-new wooden mill has just been built and is not yet in operation. The river was in full flow as there have been some heavy rains in the past two days. In fact, the rains have caused severe flooding in Serbia and some parts of Bosnia. A short video clip from the dash-cam of the drive along this lane can be viewed at this link.

Swollen River Plitva near to its source
Swollen River Pliva near to its source
Mill building with reservoir of diverted river water
Mill building with reservoir of diverted river water
Mill stone and 'water wheel' mechanism
Mill stone and ‘water wheel’ mechanism
A new water mill hut
A new water mill hut
New mechanical bits under the new mill - ready to start work
New mechanical bits under the new mill – ready to start work
A nice BBQ patio next to the river!
A nice BBQ patio next to the river!
Old stone building next to the river
Old stone building next to the river

After taking some photos, I turned the Defender around and began to drive back along the river towards Jajce. I stopped a couple of times to try to get directions to the watermills in the photo. The people who I asked (who didn’t speak English) clearly recognised the mills and I was pointed back towards Jajce with differing estimates of how many km I needed to drive. Finally, I saw a hotel/restaurant next to the lake. I stopped there and asked again and was told that the mills are ‘about 100 metres down the river’. I’d finally located them! And I’m so glad that I did, as they presented a wonderful photo opportunity. I recorded the GPS coordinates of the watermill complex to save others from going through the same search process. The coordinates are N44 20.857 E017 13.579.

The entire complex of wooden water mills on the Pliva River
The entire complex of wooden water mills on the Pliva River
Pliva watermills
Pliva watermills
Pliva watermills
Pliva watermills
Watermills
Watermills
Wooden waterways channel water to the mills
Wooden waterways channel water to the mills
The upstream side of the mills
The upstream side of the mills
Inside one of the mills
Inside one of the mills
A footbridge below the mills
A footbridge below the mills

The watermills are reported to date back to medieval times. There is some information about the history of the watermills on this website

A sluice-gate (I believe) on the lake (reservoir) above the watermills
A sluice-gate (I believe) on the lake (reservoir) above the watermills
Plitva Lake
Pliva Lake

After photographing the watermills and the nearby lake, I retraced my route back to Travnik and checked into my hotel at 5.30pm. The day was almost over, but I walked up the hill to the old Ottoman Fortress (14th-15th century) and had a look inside. I also managed to get a photo of a small waterfall next to the fortress (I had to scramble down a mud bank and along an overgrown path to get the shot).

River runs through an arch and falls to a lower level
River runs through an arch and falls to a lower level
The bridge accessing the fortress. Note the 'pencil' minaret that is a common design in this region.
The bridge accessing the fortress. Note the ‘pencil’ minaret that is a common design in this region.
The inner wall and keep of the fortress, and the town below.
The inner wall and keep of the fortress, and the town below.
The outer walls of the fortress
The outer walls of the fortress
The upper level of the keep
The upper level of the keep

About 6.30pm, I visited the Plava Voda which is a fast-flowing river than runs through the old town (below the waterfall at the castle). There are restaurants alongside the river as well as souvenir stands. Part of the river is diverted so that it flows through pools alongside, in which there are large groups of captive fish, including trout. A ready supply of fresh fish for the restaurants. It seemed like a good time for dinner, so I ate at  one of the restaurants.

The river cascades under bridges and between restaurants
The river cascades under bridges and between restaurants
Mossy waterwheel
Mossy waterwheel
A couple of the ponds that are stocked with fish
A couple of the ponds that are stocked with fish
Someone's future dinner
Someone’s future dinner
Fish and chips - Travnik style (two whole fresh trout), and a side order of broccoli.
Fish and chips – Travnik style (two whole fresh trout), and a side order of broccoli.

Tomorrow I will leave Bosnia and cross back  into Croatia, where I’ll head to the Plitvice Lakes National Park for a couple of days of camping (possibly the last camping days of the trip).

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