The label Most Beautiful Villages of is a concept launched by the French association Les Plus Beaux villages de France in 1981. Its mission is to preserve and enhance its member villages’ heritage, to increase their notoriety, and thus promote their economic development. The concept of the Most Beautiful Villages is essentially a label that has three strategic and circuitous axes: Quality, Notoriety, Development. The selection of candidate villages is made according to a rigorous and objective method that allows the village to be assigned the designation the Most Beautiful Villages of (Country Name).
In the Most Beautiful Villages model, three aspects of heritage intersect to maintain cultural sustainability: the natural/ecosystem heritage of the landscape and region, the built heritage (monuments, buildings, and archeological sites), and local culture specificity (including livelihood, artisanship, know-hows, and gastronomy). As such, the objective of label the Most Beautiful Villages of is to contribute to economic growth, heritage preservation, and sustainable development of rural areas. The ultimate goal of the Most Beautiful Villages concept is to enhance the development of the labeled villages and lead them on the path of sustainable tourism.
THE MOST BEAUTIFUL VILLAGES OF BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA
Finding themselves at the crossroads of Western and Eastern civilization, villages and rural settlements in Bosnia and Herzegovina testify to the rich cultural heritage that represents the country and its people. The influences of the Greek, Roman, European medieval and Ottoman empires can be seen through many preserved monuments or remains. BiH is also rich with biodiversity and beautiful nature. This diverse cultural heritage is manifested through monuments or architectural gems and through an intangible tradition that lives on through craftsmanship, cuisine, music, dance and hospitality. The „Najljepša sela Bosne i Hercegovine“ is a label of excellence that is intended to be recognized internationally and the name of the label in English is “Most Beautiful Villages of Bosnia and Herzegovina”, and its abbreviation is MBV BiH.
In 2022. The Association for Rural Development Alterural based in Sarajevo was selected by the USAID project Devloping Sustainable Tourism in Bosnia and Herzegovina (TURIZAM) to launch and manage this initiative with a network of key partners across the country and ensure its sustainability. Alterural Association was founded in 2009 with headquarters in Sarajevo. It specializes in the development and promotion of rural tourism in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This sector is indeed seen as a strong driver of the development of rural areas and the generation of complementary incomes for communities, especially for smaller and remote agricultural producers. The rural tourism sector aims to diversify the rural economy in rural areas, giving greater visibility to beautiful rural tourist destinations that will increase the development of the sector and its positive socio-economic impact on rural communities.The Most Beautiful Villages of BiH initiative currently includes a certain number of villages across the country, each with its own distinct character, history, and cultural significance. These villages are home to traditional architecture, including stone houses, wooden bridges, and ancient fortresses, as well as scenic landscapes of rolling hills, crystal-clear rivers, and lush forests. As for the Most Beautiful Villages of BiH, one of the objectives of the organization championing the label would be to join the Federation of The Most Beautiful Villages of the Earth, after having established the label and proven its seriousness and value in the local rural landscape.
The Most Beautiful Villages of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) present unique and authentic experiences to visitors, offering a glimpse into the country’s rich cultural heritage and natural beauty. The Most Beautiful Villages of BiH is an initiative that aims to promote and preserve the traditional architecture, cultural heritage, and natural beauty of BiH’s rural areas.
The main objectives of The Most Beautiful Villages of Bosnia and Herzegovina brand/label are:
- Preservation of villages in Bosnia and Herzegovina by recognizing their natural and cultural heritage and suggesting conservation policies to local communities. The brand/label is also a tool in protecting the cultural and historical heritage of the village from development projects that affect the survival of that heritage.
- Promotion of Bosnian and Herzegovinian villages by raising awareness of their natural beauty and unique cultural heritage.
- Development of villages in Bosnia and Herzegovina by strengthening their presence on the local and European tourist map and contributing to the socio-economic development of rural areas.
- Offering new economic opportunities and development opportunities, as an alternative to the negative trend of young people leaving rural areas.
THE MOST BEAUTIFUL VILLAGES OF THE EARTH
The concept underwent expansion through the establishment of the Federation of the Most Beautiful Villages of the Earth in Gordes, France. The initial gathering brought together the national network of The Most Beautiful Villages of France, Belgium, Italy, Japan, and Spain. In order to uphold and promote sustainable development in these exceptional locations, these associations have collaborated and pooled their efforts and expertise as guardians of quality and excellence. Subsequently, various nations, including Germany, Switzerland, Japan, and Lebanon, embraced this notion and joined the federation. This collective effort united champions from diverse countries and facilitated the establishment of an international network for the exchange of knowledge and expertise. The label is widely recognized for its exceptional standards, serving as an indicator of a high-quality tourist destination that necessitates a significant dedication from both public authorities and citizens to safeguard and enhance their respective cultural legacies. The dedication of the villages to the preservation and enhancement of their cultural heritage establishes them as valuable assets within the domain of tourism.