Bosnia and Herzegovina; Vareš – Village Oćevija

In the enchanting ambiant of the Zvijezda mountain, near Vareš, the Bosnian village of Oćevija is located. The water of the Oćevica River is used to start three Maidans (smithies), which are a national monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina and as such unique in the whole of Europe. It is the last place in Europe where iron is forged in the traditional pre-industrial way. Raw iron material is melted, as it was done in the Middle Ages, and then iron is forged and made with the help of hydropower. This village was first mentioned in 1485, and there is a story that it got its name when an Italian missionary traveled from Vareš to Olovo and rested at the place where the village is now, constantly repeating “o che via! (Oh, what a journey). Since then, the village has been called Oćevija. There are still 3 blacksmiths active in the village, who still nurture the process which is over 800 years old. They mainly produce agricultural tools and a speciffic Bosnian product used to prepare meals over hot ashes called „sač“ that have customers across the country and the region. In the past times, these blacksmiths employed a large number of people who came even from neighboring villages to work there. The inhabitants of this village still work hard and preserve the tradition of their region with the desire to pass on this art of forging iron to younger generations. This village still remains a corner where history and tradition are nurtured with great care.

Oćevica river powering the Maidans
Forging iron as in Middle Ages
Blacksmith working iron using traditional tools