The so-called Bosnian Pyramid, located in the town of Visoko, is one of Bosnia & Herzegovina’s most enigmatic yet controversial destinations. But regardless of your thoughts on the subject, there’s no denying that visiting the Bosnian Pyramid of Visoko and the nearby tunnels is an unforgettable experience.
In the following guide, we’ll be going over what the visiting experience is like while summarizing the theories postulated by Semir Osmanagić, the Bosnian-American businessman who claims to have discovered the pyramid. He also currently runs the Bosnian Pyramid of the Sun Foundation which manages the site.
Following a summary of Visoko’s main landmarks, I’ll be sharing my thoughts on whether or not I believe the formation is manmade or simply a natural hill. You can also check the very end of the article to learn more about transportation.
Officially known as Visočica Hill, I’ll be referring to it as the ‘pyramid’ to avoid confusion and, manmade or not, it is indeed pyramid-shaped.
Visiting the Bosnian Pyramid of Visoko as a Day Trip
Before my trip, I came across countless articles on Visoko, but nothing with basic information on visiting the area independently. Now having done it, I can confirm that visiting the Bosnian Pyramid and the nearby Ravne Tunnel can easily be done as a day trip from Sarajevo.
First, you’ll need to take a bus from Sarajevo to Visoko (more below). If you’re reasonably fit, you can get around everywhere on foot without paying for a taxi. But if you do want a taxi, you might want to look for a driver at the bus terminal.
The walk to the Pyramid of the Sun takes around 25 minutes from the bus station. If you want to walk all the way to the top, it’s best to come prepared with sturdy shoes. From the top, you can then walk down the other side, and the road from there will take you directly to the Ravne Tunnel area in about 45 minutes.
Just nearby is Ravne Park. And when finished, you can head back on foot to the bus terminal.
The Pyramid of the Sun
The town of Visoko, situated about 35 km north of Sarajevo, is an easy 40-minute bus ride. And as mentioned above, the entrance to the ‘Pyramid of the Sun’ is about a 25-minute walk. Using your phone and looking at the signage around town, the entrance is not too hard to find.
Arriving at the small office at the base of the pyramid, I spoke with a staff member who told me that there were two options for visiting the Bosnian Pyramid. Either I could go alone and pay a fee of 5 KM, or pay 10 KM to go with a guide.
The problem with the second option, however, is that I’d have to wait for random people to show up, as the guide only takes people in groups. Not wanting to wait around, I decided to go ahead on my own.
Walking up the steps, visitors will find bilingual signs on either side of the steps filled with information about the pyramid. But what could be called factual and what’s merely the opinion of Semir Osmanagić (who wasn’t there at the time) remains up for debate.
Osmanagić claims that the pyramid is as high as 200 meters, making it the tallest in the world. He also believes it to be no less than 34,000 years old!
One interesting claim that can actually be verified is that the pyramid is almost perfectly oriented to true north.
As you’ll notice, the pyramid is largely covered in vegetation. This is quite normal for pyramids that are even only hundreds of years old. But when Osmanagić and his team cleared through some of the overgrowth, they didn’t find cut blocks of stone as one would expect.
Osmanagić believes that whatever lost civilization built the pyramid used an ancient method of creating concrete known as geopolymer.
Osmanagić appears to be a follower of French scientist Joseph Davidovits, who espouses the controversial theory that the Great Pyramid of Giza wasn’t made of quarried limestone, but from a geopolymer mix created right on the Giza plateau.
While geopolymer may have in fact been used by some ancient civilizations, the Egyptians would’ve needed to create so many different moulds for the casing blocks that it wouldn’t have saved them much, if any, time.
Be that as it may, Osmanagić believes the rock beneath the vegetation in Visoko to be an even older and more high-tech geopolymer mix. And clearly, they did not mould it into blocks but created flat and smooth layers.
Making my way higher up the pyramid, I turned around to appreciate the view of Visoko below. I was the only person visiting the Bosnian Pyramid at the time, and walking along the tranquil forested path and enjoying the scenery was already enough to warrant a visit to the town.
I soon encountered one of the most interesting sections of rock – or, as Osmanagić would say, ‘concrete.’ According to Osmanagić, the soil above this rock is dated to around 12,000-15,000 years.
But fossilized leaves between two layers of the ‘concrete’ have been carbon-dated to around 30,000 years, which is where Osmanagić’s estimated date for the pyramid comes from.
Supposedly, these ancient pyramid builders used a composite of rocks and sand from the nearby underground tunnels. What resulted, the Foundation claims, was a concrete much harder than the kind we use today.
Though I explored the pyramid unguided, our guide in the Ravne Tunnel (more below) would later explain that the specific mix of minerals in these rocks isn’t found anywhere else in nature.
For now, I’d mainly like to summarize the theories proposed by the Bosnian Pyramid of the Sun Foundation. Further below, you can read more about what a respected geologist who visited the site had to say about it.
It’s also worth noting that Semir Osmanagić believes these rocks were merely an outer coating to the pyramid within. But at the time of writing, the deeper layers have yet to be excavated.
Supposedly, excavation work on the pyramid has stopped for the time being. While details are murky, the Foundation seems to have lost public funding as well as official permission.
One of the reasons may be that the pyramid is indeed a real archaeological site – at least from the Roman period through the Middle Ages. And the destruction of the pyramid’s outermost layers has been interfering with archaeological digs related to medieval history.
And the very top of the pyramid, home to a medieval fortress, was where I was headed next. While I’d asked the staff member about climbing to the top, he warned me that it would be very steep and slippery. Once the informational signs ended, he said, it would be best to turn around.
While the trail up is indeed steep and slippery, I managed to make it through the densely forested area, though I really regretted not wearing better shoes!
Reaching the top, I encountered a small fortress which was supposedly built over an earlier Roman structure.
Visoko served for a time as medieval Bosnia’s capital. Today, this fortress is simply known as ‘Old Town Visoki,’ and it was mentioned in documents as early as 1355. Even Bosnian rulers occasionally resided here.
But considering all the fortresses one can visit around Bosnia & Herzegovina, Old Town Visoki is relatively small and unimpressive.
Strangely, as far as I can tell, Osmanagić and his staff avoid mentioning the medieval ruins atop the pyramid. Neither the on-site signage nor my guide at the tunnels even mentioned it in passing.
One wonders if this omission is related to the politics surrounding the site, or if they really believe it to be a totally insignificant detail.
As difficult as the climb up is and as underwhelming as the fortress may be, the main reason to come up here is for the spectacular views.
Believe it or not, Osmanagić has labeled many of the other formations around the Pyramid of the Sun as pyramids. And from this vantage point, I was supposedly looking at the ‘Pyramid of the Moon’ and the ‘Pyramid of Love,’ among others. But all I could see were non distinct hills.
While shorter than the walk up, the descent to the other side is even more difficult and slippery, and I had to repeatedly cling onto plants for balance. As mentioned, proper hiking shoes and maybe even a trekking pole would come in handy here.
Looking back, you’ll notice something missing. What happened to the pyramid? Appearing like a simple hill from this angle, the Foundation claims that the south side of the Pyramid of the Sun collapsed in antiquity.
Walking to Ravne
By using the main road on the other side of the pyramid to reach Ravne Tunnel, one can get excellent views of the Pyramid of the Sun along the journey.
If you’re not into hiking, you can still walk down the pyramid the way you came, and then either walk to or hail a cab to visit Rave Tunnel & Park. From either side of the pyramid, the walk to Ravne takes around 45 minutes, albeit along separate roads.
Though I wasn’t particularly excited to have to walk for so long, this pleasant journey turned out to be one of the day’s highlights. The road hardly sees any traffic, and as you make your way onward, you’ll get unique glimpses into daily life of rural Bosnia.
And as mentioned, you’ll be greeted with multiple stunning views of the pyramid throughout the journey.
Ravne Tunnel is located right next to Ravne Park, but I decided to check out the tunnel first. If it’s your first visit to the tunnel, you’ll be required to buy a ticket (20 KM) and explore the tunnel as part of a guided tour.
Before my visit, I was looking for information on how often these tours run and at what times. Luckily for me, an English tour was beginning just as I arrived. Apparently, these tours take place pretty regularly, so not much planning is required.
But just what is the Ravne Tunnel, and what does it have to do with the pyramid? Semir Osmanagić believes the tunnel’s existence is proof that the Pyramid of the Sun is indeed manmade, simply because numerous pyramid complexes around the world also feature tunnel complexes.
This is just one section of a huge underground labyrinth of tunnels discovered throughout the area. The one in which tours take place is ‘Ravne Tunnel 2,’ though it’s unclear if the others are accessible to the public.
The tour lasts about an hour, while visitors are required to wear hard hats. Not because of falling rocks, but because of the low ceiling in some parts. At 25 m below the ground, the air stays at a constant 12.5°C, so come prepared with long sleeves.
The entire labyrinth is believed to be tens of kilometers long. As mentioned above, the pyramid builders supposedly used the rock from here to create their geopolymer concrete. And according to Osmanagić, the tunnels were mysteriously sealed off some 5,000 years ago.
Throughout our visit, we stopped at numerous large and smooth stones uncovered during the excavations. One of them weighs 8 tons, and it was situated beneath the flow of natural water.
Our guide explained how studies have shown it to be manmade (a composite of quartz, calcite and muscovite) and not natural. But to the average visitor, they don’t seem too out of the ordinary.
At one of them, we were asked to place our hands on it to ‘feel the energy.’
Another stone contains a few carvings that the Foundation assumes are some type of ancient writing system. But they could easily be natural random scratches, or perhaps something left by more recent inhabitants.
In fact, while not mentioned by our guide, these tunnels are believed to have been used in some way by the region’s medieval inhabitants. And as we’ll go over below, Visoko’s archaeological museum contains carved stones that look fairly similar.
More recently, the tunnels are said to have been occupied by the Yugoslav People’s Army. As such, when new discoveries are made, it will be difficult to discern which era an object comes from.
The foundation claims that the tunnels contain an extremely high concentration of negative ions – an amount which induces a healing effect on those who breathe in the air.
During my visit, I saw numerous other people – seemingly locals – walking through the labyrinth without a guide. Apparently, after the initial visit, visitors are free to explore on their own, and there are even designated sections for healing and meditation.
While some locals scoff at the whole concept, others take it all very seriously. Our guide even claimed that many locals have seen their physical ailments cured after repeated visits.
Some of the natural water flowing through the caverns are also believed to have curative properties, and visitors can purchase a bottle at the souvenir shop outside. Now completely privately funded, this is one of the ways in which the Foundation funds its excavations.
Speaking of excavations, as mentioned above, work has stopped atop the pyramid itself. According to our guide, excavators are now working their way to the bottom of the pyramid via these tunnels. When they get there, they’ll finally get to see what lies beneath the surface.
Around Ravne Park
Just nearby the tunnel entrance and souvenir stands is the spacious Ravne Park. While not labeled as an archaeological site, it’s also managed by the Bosnian Pyramid of the Sun Foundation.
Walking around, you’ll find just about every New Age trope one can think of, from orgon chambers to energetic stone circles to aura amplifiers to yoga platforms. There’s even a Magic Forest to walk through!
But regardless of your feeling on such topics, the park is well-manicured and quite a nice place to spend an hour or two on a sunny day.
When finished, it’s time to start heading back to the city center.
The Visoko Native museum
Before heading back to the bus terminal, you might want to stop at the local archaeology museum, officially titled the ‘Visoko Native Museum.’ For an entry fee of 4 KM, you’ll get to look at original photographs of Visoko in the 1800s on the second floor.
The basement, meanwhile, houses archaeological finds discovered throughout the area.
Notably, the museum makes absolutely no mention of the pyramid or the tunnels, revealing the strong rift between the Foundation and academic archaeology.
Within the basement, you’ll find stones with crude 14th-century inscriptions on them, not unlike the larger one found in the tunnels.
They contrast greatly with the ornately decorated tombstone, or stećak, on the other side of the room. Also on display are parts of a medieval doorjamb.
And just across the street is a preserved wooden contraption used for leather processing – said to be one of the only left of its kind in the Balkans.
The Bosnian Pyramid: Manmade or Natural?
Reading reviews of the Bosnian Pyramid and Ravne Tunnel online, most reviewers seem to fall into one of two categories: the true believers who have full faith in Semir Osmanagić’s theories and the healing capabilities of the tunnels, and angry visitors who decry the whole thing as a scam and a hoax.
I visited Visoko with an open mind, as I agree with Osmanagić on a number of things. Namely, that there were likely advanced civilizations flourishing on the planet long before commonly believed by scholars.
In recent years, the excavation of sites like Göbekli Tepe and Karahan Tepe in Turkey, for example, have proven that advanced societies were building megalithic structures at least 12,000 years ago, well before scholars thought possible.
The field of archaeoastronomy has also revealed how many ancient civilizations possessed advanced calendar systems that tracked celestial movements over the course of very long periods. This means that they must’ve inherited such knowledge from even older civilizations.
We also have to consider things like the geological evidence of the erosion of the Great Sphinx. Geologists such as Dr. Robert M. Schoch have claimed that the weathering had to have been caused by water and not sand. If so, when taking Egypt’s climate into consideration, the Sphinx would’ve had to have been carved at least 10,000 years ago.
But some have put the number as high as 30,000 years – around the supposed construction date of the Bosnian Pyramid. Given Egypt’s climate, it’s possible (though evidence is still lacking) that people flourished there some 30,000 years ago. Bosnia, on the other hand, would’ve probably been uninhabitable in the midst of the Ice Age.
While I’m not a geologist, I’ve visited various pyramids around the world in places like Egypt, Mexico, Cambodia and the United States. And when visiting the Bosnian pyramid, nothing looked manmade to me.
Interestingly, Robert Schoch himself visited the Bosnian Pyramid, and this is what he had to say: ‘Where [Osmanagić] saw concrete blocks and human intervention, I saw only perfectly natural sandstones and conglomerates that had broken into larger or smaller blocks due both to tectonic stresses and gravity slumping.’
But while the Bosnian Pyramid might not be a manmade pyramid, is it fair to call it a scam? For the whole thing to be a scam or a hoax, Osmanagić would need to be deliberately lying with intent to take people’s money.
But reading Osmanagić’s writing and listening to the guide at the Ravne Tunnel, I got the impression that these are sincere people who really do believe in what they’re saying. The main problem, however, is that they suffer from serious confirmation bias.
While I’m interested to hear what the team of tunnel excavators find, who knows what future ‘discoveries’ will ‘confirm’ the existence of a long-lost civilization.
In any case, I highly recommend visiting the Bosnian Pyramid of Visoko to see it for yourself. Though I did not leave convinced, it was easily one of the most memorable experiences of my entire trip through Bosnia & Herzegovina.
This easy day trip from Sarajevo certainly makes for a nice alternative to going to see yet another Ottoman bridge!
Buses from Sarajevo’s Main Bus Station (not the East Station) to Visoko leave frequently. You’ll find one every half hour in the mornings and hourly in the afternoon.
You can check the schedule on websites like GetbyBus, but it’s easy enough to just buy your ticket at the station.
Visoko can easily be visited as a day trip from Sarajevo, which is what I did. But after visiting the Bosnian Pyramid, you can also continue further north to the popular destination of Travnik.
For those doing longer trips in the Balkans, you could try a route like Sarajevo-Visoko-Travnik-Jajce-Banja Luka, spending a night or so in each town.
Each destination is part of the same route run by the Centrotrans Eurolines company. And then from Banja Luka, you can easily find transport into either Croatia or Serbia.
Obviously, the reverse route would work just as well.
In terms of convenience, the closer you are to Baščaršija the better. However, if you’re basing yourself in Sarajevo longer term and want to take numerous day trips, you may want to stay somewhere closer to the Main Bus Station.
Needing a break after extensive travels throughout the Balkans, I decided to make Sarajevo my base for an entire month. I stayed in my own studio apartment called Pink Apartment which was an incredible value for a month-long stay in a capital city.
It was within 15-minutes on foot from the bus station, and about 40 minutes on foot from Baščaršija, though I could also take the tram. While it suited my needs perfectly, I’d recommend somewhere more central for those only staying in town for several days.
If Sarajevo is your first destination in the country and you also plan on leaving Bosnia & Herzegovina by bus, be sure to ask your host for a copy of the police registration form. You may be asked to show it when crossing the border, and without it you risk being fined.