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The Bosnian Pyramids – Just a Myth?

The Bosnian pyramids have been a fascination to many because of their curious existence. Despite looking similar to the pyramids, most believe that these features were naturally formed. However, there are many that question whether these “pyramids” really are the result of natural processes over time.  

Even if the pyramids are completely natural formations, we still feel there is something magical about these natural phenomena. The mystery of these hills likely will not last forever, and will become clearer with time and research. However, we will tell you all that there currently is to know about the Bosnian pyramids.

What are the Bosnian Pyramids?

The Bosnian pyramids refer to a series of five hills that resemble pyramids. These hills are located near the small village of Visoko ─ around 30 kilometres northwest of Sarajevo.

Specialists believe that the biggest hill, Visočica, was once esteemed as the ‘Pyramid of the Sun’. The other pyramids at the site are called the Pyramid of the Moon, Earth, Love, and Dragon.

Five thick layers of meter-deep sandstone make up Visočica. A 15-centimetre layer of clay lies under the five layers of sandstone. The inner pyramid ─ composing the bottommost layer ─ consists of sandstone blocks. If this pyramid is someday determined to be man-made, its height of 220 metres would dwarf even the Great Pyramid of Giza, which is only 147 meters high. 

While these structures may look like pyramids, many archaeologists will argue that stance. Instead, they believe that the idea of the hills as pyramids was the invention of a Bosnian businessman to secure funding and boost tourism in the country after the devastation of the Bosnian War in the 1990s.

The Myth of the Bosnian Pyramids

The Bosnian pyramids are an example of pseudo-archeology. Some people, especially esoterics, have their own interpretation of the origins of these hills at the centre of Bosnia and Herzegovina. 

The idea of the Bosnian pyramids was the creation of Semir Osmanagić ─ a Bosnian-American businessman. He claimed that the hills were the largest man-made ancient pyramids on Earth.

Semir Osmanagić and an international team reportedly carried out an archaeological dig in April 2006 to back up his claims. However, many of the archaeologists that were allegedly involved in this undertaking claim that they were not there. 

Osmanagić’s theory is denied by many scientists, seeing as investigation of the site by geologists, archaeologists, and other scientists suggest that the hills are natural formations. There has been no evidence found thus far to suggest that the formations are man-made.

Bosnia Pyramids hill landscape

Consequences of the Myth

Even though the theory of the pyramids in Bosnia and Herzegovina is not supported by evidence, it has had a lasting effect on the country. Tourism in the country has skyrocketed as a result of intrigue. The Visočica hills, in particular, has become a popular tourist attraction for travellers from all over the world.

The alleged pyramids are particularly popular with esoterics. They often meditate in this area because they claim that they can feel positive energy emanating from the hills.

The village of Visoko has been positively impacted by the rise in Tourism. Seeing as the village was only a few kilometres from the front where the Bosnian War was fought, devastation and destruction were extensive. Therefore, the economic boost that has resulted from the “pyramid” intrigue is welcomed by the village.  

The European Association of Archaeologists don’t look kindly on the myth of the Bosnian Pyramids. The association, as well as numerous scientists from other disciplines, are concerned that the increase in tourism may lead to damage at the site. While they do not support the idea that the pyramids are man-made, the site is a genuine area of archaeological interest. These specialists are concerned for the other structures and ruins in the surrounding areas. One such structure is a medieval Bosnian castle. Some believe it features fortifications that date back to the Roman era. 

In 2006, Osmanagić began excavations and rearranged one of the hills to look like a stepped pyramid. This understandably angered the academic community, seeing as this undertaking likely caused damage to real archaeological resources.

The most recent investigation of the site was conducted by geologist Dougal Jerram and archaeologist Henry J Chapman in 2012. The two researchers believe the sediment remains they found in the river date back several million years. However, their research did not lead to the discovery of any archaeological materials. During their time at the site, they witnessed tourist behaviours that posed risks to the actual archaeological ruins in the area. Because of this, they are among the scientists who desire greater efforts to preserve the area. 

Getting to the pyramids

We found that reaching the Bosnian pyramids from Sarajevo is very easy. The hilly landscape is relatively close to the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, making it accessible or a day trip.

A bus to Visoko departs from the main bus station in Sarajevo twice a day, with returning buses later in the day. If you are looking to spend the majority of the day here, night busses are available as well. The journey itself takes only 30 minutes. You can book tickets in advance, but tickets for the night bus must be bought directly at the bus station.

Sarajevo

Getting around in Visoko and its surroundings

Once you’ve arrived in Visoko, we recommend taking a taxi. We found that transportation to the archaeological sites are relatively inexpensive. Of course, you also have the option of exploring the surrounding area on foot. The Pyramid of the Sun and the entrance to the Ravne Tunnels are both about a 40-minute walk from the centre of Visoko. The excavation sites at the Pyramid of the Moon are also located nearby. However, if you are looking to see sites such as the Tumulus Vratnica or the remains of the church in Mile, we recommend taking a taxi.

If you decide to travel on foot, make sure that you stay on the designated path. As we previously mentioned, this area was heavily affected by the war between Croatia, Bosnia, and Serbia. Even today, landmines are regularly discovered throughout the region. It is vital to your safety that you stay out of the woods and keep to the designated paths. 

 Interesting locations

The biggest attractions are the excavation sites at the Pyramid of the Sun and of the Moon, the Ravne Tunnels, and the Tumulus Vratnica. The excavation site is accessible from the tourist information centre at the Pyramid of the Sun. Tickets for entering the site cost around €10 and include a 45-minute guided tour of the site. On this tour, you’ll learn about the different layers that comprise the pyramids, the research conducted by various universities, and the electromagnetic field at the Pyramid of the Sun.

The Ravne Tunnels are another location of interest. Researchers discovered the complex network of underground tunnels. These connect many of the most important sites in the region. Around one and half kilometres of the tunnels are open to the public. Similar to the pyramid, the tickets for the tunnels cost €10 and also include a 45-minute guided tour. During the tour, you’ll learn more about the age of the tunnels and the drawings of runes and other symbols on megalithic ceramics found here. We found the tour to be incredibly informative and interesting, and definitely recommend it!

 Conclusion

The Bosnian pyramids are quite a well-known myth of the modern era. While the origin of the pyramids remains unconfirmed, many archaeologists fear that excavations at the supposed pyramids have actually caused damage to real archaeological artefacts. The damage caused by tourists is another serious concern; therefore, if you visit the site, you should be mindful to be considerate of it. 

The proximity of these sites to the main cities makes it ideal for visiting. You can move around the region on foot or by taxi. 

Whether there is truth at the heart of this myth is impossible to decide with the information we currently have. However, we can confirm that the tours offered here are fascinating and that hiking through this region is a memorable adventure.  

Whether you believe the pyramids are a man-made construction or natural, we recommend visiting and making up your own mind!

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