A hike to the Mila Gojsalić statue
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.
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.
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 (we use Rentalcars.com to rent cars in Croatia. They have the best rates). 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.
Related: Bbqboy’s Guide to Croatia
Related: Driving Spectacular Mt. Biokovo, Croatia
Ps. If you find our blog helpful, please consider using our links to book your flights, hotels, tours, and car rentals. Have a look at our Travel Resources page.
If you haven’t subscribed yet and want to get our posts and newsletters sent to your email, just insert your email address below
Hi,after reading your post, I will definitely visit Omis. If I read correctly, you hiked up using the road correct?
Yes, that’s right.
we plan to visit Omis soon..
Trying to decide if we will hike early morning or late in the afternoon for great photos , as we are thinking of sleeping in trogir or Omis the night before the hike.
A morning hike after a night spent in Omis probably the best, with all the mountains around you might get a lot of shadows in the late afternoon.
Such a nice review ?
Sand In My Suitcase
So Ivan Mestrovic created this statue! We rubbed the big toe of his statue of the 10th century Bishop Gregory of Nin in Split :-). Looks like a fun day, getting some fresh air and exercise – and enjoying the mild Croatian winter weather!
Yes, the same Ivan Mestrovic! Did you have a chance to see his museum while in Split? Very impressive, he’s famous the world over.
Sand In My Suitcase
Yes, we did see his museum – fabulous sculptor!
what a BRILLIANT location!
Mike Clegg - Clegg
This looks like a fun day out. Hiking up to that statue would be great fun. The view also looks really nice from up there.
Natasha von Geldern
What a fascinating story and this sounds like a great little day walk. When I was in Split I loved the Ivan Meštrović house/museum out on the peninsula – what an impressive artist he was!
You’re right he’s great – he also did the Grgur Ninski Statue at the front gate of the palace.
Thanks for the comment Natasha.
Yes, we had a car and visited it. The main coast road was blocked due to a traffic accident, so we were driving up into the mountains and rejoining the coast road further along. I’m so happy that we did because it was a fantastic road.
It is isn’t it? I really thought it was quite spectacular. If you didn’t (and you come back to Croatia) make sure to drive up Mt. Biokovo.
“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.”
Aside from such an ominous warning, 🙂 we are hoping to make it to Croatia in 2015!
Yeah, no fences in Croatia. I think they believe in the ‘strongest will survive” approach.
You mean 2017 Patti? I guess you’re still shell-shocked by the asshole in the white house…
Ha! Yes, 2017. Sorry about that and believe it or not I always double check my comments. 🙂 My brain is SO preoccupied and today (now yesterday) was particularly difficult for us to learn we now live in a country where our extended family members cannot enter. But don’t get me started, that’s a conversation for another day.
No thank you very much :-). I love the view from up there but would not hike it for sure. I will live vicariously through your images. The story is so cool and admirable too. For sure l am not that patriotic 😉 , they would just have to find another way. Weren’t you scared? and yeah..a full frontal would have been nice..hahaha!!!
Nice of you ladies to stick together with the “why couldn’t you take better photo of the front of the statue”?
There are a few different versions of the legend: that she and others were taken as slaves, that she had been raped…but the ‘infiltrating the camp and entering the tent’ version seems the most popular.
No, not scared, you just have to watch your step. I actually get more nervous driving, THAT’S something I’ve never really felt comfortable with.
Yay for heroic Mila, saving not only the day but the region! I love hiking but since there’s such a convenient road I’d opt for a drive with my picnic. Terrific article, I’d definitely go if I were in this area again. Thanks for sharing this fascinating piece of history Frank!
I know you love the area Rebecca. Will you ever make it this way again?
Yes, I think driving it is ideal but since I didn’t have a car I did the alternative…and actually enjoyed the nature and solitude.
Either way, a spectacular spot.
So many places, so little time! We only travel outside the US couple of months a year, and with so many places we’ve never been, sadly I don’t see us visiting again – not anytime soon anyway!
I love hiking, so this would be something I would enjoy doing. Although the bit through the tunnel would freak me out a little, but the views would certainly make up for it. Lovely to see such blue skies.
Thanks Gilda. We had about 10 days with lows around zero where all the locals were complaining (coldest winter in 50 years they say) but even then skies were blue. I personally can take a bit of cold but grey skies depress me.
If you ever come, make sure to visit Omis. Not many people know of it and it has some of the most dramatic geography anywhere.
Ah – what those young and beautiful virgins won’t sacrifice for God or country! Seriously though, it’s really a shame that the statue is so difficult to see as the legend is interesting and the statue is lovely. As for the scenery – breathtaking! Sounds like a great hike except for the nerve-jangling sprint through the tunnel. The weather in Split sounds beautiful and perfect for more hikes too. Who knows what you’ll find? 🙂
Lissette told me I should have done a better job of trying to get a full frontal. Sweet huh? Just no way.
Yes, beautiful Christian virgins offering up to defeat the Muslim oppressors in a very religious country. I’m sure there are some truths to the legend and would love to know the whole story.
What a gorgeous day you had for this hike. Great tip about having a flash light or phone… I bet you ran as fast as you could. Interesting story, thanks for sharing it.
It’s pretty amazing – we were in Belgrade over Christmas where it was cold and grey. We arrived in Split on Boxing day and, except for a cold spell of about 10 days, we’ve had temperatures in the low teens with sun like you see in the photo. Totally different climatic zones separated by a whole bunch of mountain ranges. But love the temperatures here.