I’ve previously written about Omis and why it is my favorite Croatian town. But there is another attraction outside town that I had previously heard of and had always wanted to see – the Mila Gojsalić statue.
The History of Mila Gojsalić
In 1530, the villages in this area were being threatened by a large Ottoman (ie. Turkish) army. They were on the verge of victory. However, legend has it that a beautiful young girl from Poljica named Mila Gojsalić slipped into the tent of Ottoman leader Ahmed-Pasha and seduced him. After, when he fell asleep, she snuck into the gunpowder storage of the Turkish army and set it on fire, burning it as well as the entire Ottoman camp. The Turks tried to capture her but, with them at her heels, she courageously ran to the edge of the cliff overlooking the mouth of the Cetina River and jumped to her death.
Encouraged by her bravery, the people of Poljica launched a counterattack and drove the Ottomans out of the region (to never come back).
In memory of her heroic act, famous Croatian sculptor Ivan Meštrović created this life-sized statue of Mila at precisely the place where (again, according to legend) Mila jumped to her death.
Below: Location of the statue. 5 Km from Omis – either a 10 minute drive or a 1-hour hike.
Below: It is very hard to spot the statue from Omis, you need binoculars or a good zoom. Look for the tunnel entrance…then look a little to the right. Only then might you spot the statue.
It is very hard to find instructions on how to get to the Mila Gojsalić statue, either in Omis or on the internet, so I’ll go in detail in this post.
Firstly, there are two ways of getting to the statue: 1) by car (a 10 minute drive from Omis) or 2) by foot (it took me an hour from Omis). Either way it’s the same route.
The starting point is the bridge connecting the old town of Omis and the newer part (where the bus station is). Don’t cross to the old town – when following the route up the Cetina River you want to be on the Northern side of the river (looking across the river at the town). You’ll have views across the river like this.
There’s not much of a shoulder to the road and it is pretty narrow. But there isn’t a lot of traffic.
Following the road, you’ll see the river branching in two different ways, the main part of the river deviating away from you (see photo below).
From that point there’s a little turnoff that turns to the right. Ignore that. Follow the main road that goes through a small town lined with industrial-type businesses on either side.
Having passed the businesses (and most likely getting barked at by guard dogs behind the fences), you’ll be following a main road that winds itself up the mountain. Again, the road is pretty narrow but there’s not much traffic and the cars give you a lot of room.
Continue up that road. The views get more and more spectacular and you’ll see Mt. Biokovo in the distance.
About 45 minutes into your hike, you’ll see a sign signalling a turnoff. You can either continue straight to Split or turn right for Gata. Turn right for Gata. The views are great and you’ll see a mountain of rock looming ahead of you. Then you’ll see this tunnel. The Mila Gojsalić statue is on the other side of the tunnel which is (I’m guessing) 100 meters long. This is where I was most nervous because the passage is quite narrow and cars may not see you in there. I recommend having a flashlight or having the flashlight option on your cellphone on. I did neither – I sprinted through the tunnel.
Once on the other side of the tunnel you’ll see a viewing platform and, looking below, the Mila Gojsalić statue. Honestly, if you didn’t know what you were looking for you could walk or drive right by it as there are no signs anywhere indicating the statue.
Go down the stone stairs, they’ll lead you right to the statue. Careful where you step because you could easily plunge to your death.
I spent 45 minutes at the statue and there were no other visitors. It was incredibly peaceful and the views spectacular. I actually had a wave of sadness wash over me while sitting there eating my lunch. It was brought about by both the beauty and the feeling of solitude being on this bluff overlooking the valley below.
* If you came here by car: continue about 100m around the curve, the shoulder of the road gets wider and you can park your car off to the side.
Have a look at this short video I shot showing the statue from different angles.
Even better, look at the incredible video below. It was shot from a drone and shows off the geography and the route to the statue.
So is it worth visiting the Mila Gojsalić statue? If you have a car I think you have to visit it, it’s so easy to get to. I love a walk and views so a 1 hour hike up the mountain was worth it for me. Others may not have the same interest and might think such a hike to be a waste of time.
* In case you are wondering what time of year I did this hike: it was the weekend of January 21st, the sun was shining and temperature was 12C. Ideal weather for a hike like this in Croatia (don’t do it in the summer!!)
Note: You can get to Omis from Split in 30 minutes by either 1) Taking a bus from Split’s bus station or 2) Taking city bus 60 on the main road right behind the vegetable market.
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