The city of Visoko in the middle of Bosnia and Herzegovina has attracted thousands of tourists a year in recent years.
The reason is a sudden plain-looking hill that rises on the outskirts of the city.
Despite objections from the scientific community, many believe that this hill is part of an ancient pyramid complex with healing effects.
Behind the wild claim is businessman Semir Osmanagic, who says the hill is the largest and oldest pyramid in the world.
He has set up a pyramid park in the hills, for which he charges an entrance fee of five euros.
Describing himself as an explorer, Osmanagic says he found the place in 2005.
- I saw Osmanagic, who huddled in a leather jacket and Indiana Jones-style hat on this hill covered with vegetation and pine trees, the slopes of which were perfectly oriented towards the main winds, told the AFP news agency while leading a tourist tour of the pyramid park.
- It was obvious that this was not a natural hill but a building made by a technologically superior civilization.
Serbian tennis superstar Novak Djokovic has visited the site twice.Photo: Elvis Barukcic / AFP / Magazine
The hill resembles a pyramid a bit in shape, but according to scientists who have studied the area, it is a natural geological formation and not a man-made structure.
As early as 2006, archaeologists called the claims a “cruel scam” that has nothing to do with science.
The opinion of the scientific community has not slowed down Osmanagic, who has carried out “archeological excavations” in the area with hundreds of volunteers.
A few years ago, he opened his pyramid park, which includes not only hills but also an underground tunnel network.
Emeritus Professor of Archeology Enver Imamovic from the University of Sarajevo says the tunnel network is most likely a remnant of an ancient mine.
The rocks on the slopes, on the other hand, are geological formations, although those who believe in pyramid theory consider them to be the building blocks of the pyramid.
- It is completely impossible to accept anything he says about the pyramids, Imamovic says.
The shape of the hill resembles a pyramid. Image: Elvis Barukcic / AFP / Magazine
Stories of miracle healings
According to Osmanagic, energy exudes from the tunnels with healing effects.
During his tourist tours, he urges people to place their hands on a rock and feel the energy rise.
As the corona pandemic looms this year, Osmanagic has also promoted an on-site resilience-enhancing effect.
He tells stories of people who have recovered from illnesses after going through tunnels.
Dzenana Halepovic, 67, from Sarajevo, often visits the site and praises the effect of the tunnels.
- I feel good, I breathe well, I feel light.
It simply feels like I’m getting energy there, Halepovic says.
Emina Kanaz, 53, uses the Pyramid Park to treat her asthma.
- I came here every Saturday and walked through the tunnels for 40-60 minutes.
The price is insignificant compared to the results.
A network of tunnels has also been found at the site.Photo: Elvis Barukcic / AFP / Lehtikuva
Djokovic as an advertiser
The Bosnian government stopped supporting Osmanagic’s business years ago, but local authorities in the Visoko region have funded the construction of roads, parking lots and other infrastructure to attract pyramid tourists.
The pyramid park has gained more visibility this year after Serbian tennis superstar Novak Djokovic has visited the site twice.
Djokovic is known for his interest in new age spirituality, and he incense the place into an “earthly paradise.”
- I know that there are many doubts and problems with the authenticity of this.
But to fully understand what this is all about, you have to come visit, Djokovic told AFP in October.
Djokovic has also praised the area’s oxygen level, which he says is good for athletes.
Visits to the tennis star have increased the number of visitors who were momentarily in the doldrums due to the coronavirus.
- The beginning of the season was catastrophic, but after Djokovic's visit here has gone well, says Nermin Alihodzic, who sells souvenirs.
Thousands of tourists visit the area every year. Photo: Elvis Barukcic / AFP / Lehtikuva
According to Osmanagic, the tunnels exude energy with healing effects. Photo: Elvis Barukcic / AFP / Lehtikuva