Podgorica is one of the oldest settlements in this part of the Balkans. Great natural treasures, extremely great geo – strategic position, and fertile soil, have conditioned the appearance and development of the lodgment in the early period of the prehistoric age. During its long history it experienced and survived great events and impacts. The name of the town has been changed several times: from Birziminijum and Alata in the slavery system, pre feudal – Ribnica, to feudal, our and Turkish Podgorica, until the year 1946, when it took the name of Josip Broz Tito, former revolutionary and president of SFRJ, and got the name Titograd. In 1992 Titograd once again was renamed into Podgorica,the name which it has today.
As the greatest part of present Balkan countries, the area on which Podgorica is situated was the settlement of the early Illyrian tribes. Through the rare antique records, scientists, with the aid of contemporary archeological investigations, today are forming a mosaic about the early history of Podgorica. Illyrians, at that time organized in tribes, and very often in mutual conflicts, lived with a primitive style of life, dealing, in the beginning, with cattle breeding, and somewhat later with some other occupations, such as mining. Beside a certain number of established towns, today the names of our regions, rivers and mountains have their origin from Illyrians.
A strong Illyrian tribe Ardijei which made the alliance of tribes along the Adriatic coast had its bastion in the ancient Montenegrin town Risan, but they also had two strong bastions in somewhat Northern areas – Skoddar and Medun. Some of the most important battles for the subjugation of the Illyrian tribes took place on the very areas around these two settlements, not far from present Podgorica. Antique historians at that time for the first time mention these areas and Illyrian tribes in Montenegro, speaking about Medun as of a “town in the land of tribes of Labeati”. In I and II century A.D., Plivije and Ptolemy for the first time mention Dokleati (DOKLEATS) and the town of Duklja.
Even though antique historians do not leave evidence that in this period on the terrain of the present Podgorica in the Illyrian period there used to be a bigger lodgment, it is supposed that Dokleati had here their own bastion which they used for defending of their center which was situated in the vicinity of present Duklja. The mouth of Ribnica in Mooraca was extremely suitable for the defense, so it is believed that former tribes have used this terrain in the constant mutual fights and during the resistance to the Roman conquerors.
The arrival of the Romans in this territory brings new economic relations, usage of the resources, promotion of economy and colonization. According to the administrative organization this area is named Prevalis, with its capital town Diokleja. The sudden development of trade brought the rapid construction of roads, as well as the fast development of the lodgment, among which the most famous was Duklja, municipal with the official name Respbublica Docleatium. Pope Grgur himself, in the beginning of the VII century mentions two episcopes of the town Duklja – Pavle (PAULUS) and Nemesije. In the seventh century the development of the town Duklja and the smaller Roman lodgment named Birziminijum, for which it is supposed that it was situated in the territory of the present Podgorica, is terminated. This lodgment was of extreme importance as a station which Romans would erect on the roads, and one of those roads, which spread in the direction Skoddar – Dioklea – Anderba – Narona, was exactly this one. In the documents we come across a claim of an Italian geographer from the seventh century that Birziminijum is 10 km away from the town of Medun. It is interesting that Birziminijum, because of its position grew from caravan station into an inhabited and fortified town. Somewhat more contemporary researches have discovered that beside the tracks of the roman plumbing from Ribnicka Vrela (FOUNTAINHEAD OF RIBNICA) over the Cemovsko polje there was a fork of the same for Duklja which led towards the ruins of the present old town in Podgorica, in the mouth of Ribnica in Moraca, that is to the Roman town Birziminijum. This fact is interesting for the establishing of the size and importance of the town in that period, because Romans would have not installed the plumage for a smaller caravan station, considering the fact that the rivers were practically under its feet. It had to be a bigger city lodgment with a numerous citizenship.
After the sixth century, the slavery order as well as the civilization experience great impacts. Numerous lodgments are being destroyed. After the damaging earthquake in the year 518. Duklja has the destiny of the majority of the towns in this area. The arrival of the Slav people, colonization and creation of the first states, at the beginning is of slavery – military character, and later of feudal character. In the X and XI century there is no mentioning of the lodgment in the territory of the present Podgorica.
There are indications that in the X century at the banks of Ribnica a lodgment is being built. The confirmations about this are found in the obscure texts and manuscript notes of Podgoirca’s church Sveti Djordje (ST. GEORGE), as well as in the researches of the distinguished Russian historian Rovinski, who today in Podgorica is celebrated as one of the best connoisseurs of that age. The fact that in the sources of the early age of Zeta state the lodgment in present Podgorica is almost not mentioned can be interpreted by the fact that it lost its significance compared to Skoddar, former center of that state. On the other hand in the XII century, for the first time Ribnica is mentioned. It is located at the territory of the former Birziminijum. Raska’s aristocrat Zavida hid himself here, where in 1114. year his son Stevan Nemanja was born, the founder of the dynasty which reigned over Serbia until the XVI century. It is interesting that he was baptized here, most probably by a roman custom, most probably in the church of Sveti Djordje, which even today is located in the foothill of the hill Gorica, in the very center of present Podgorica. The existence of the church and the reason for which an aristocrat would hide in Ribnica meant only one thing – that even earlier it was a bigger and a fortified town with a significant number of citizens. During the XVI century Ribinica is mentioned as an important intermediate in the trade between Dubrovnik and the area of Raska, and even the well known Tzar Dusan mentions it in one of his observations.
This is very interesting, because in 1326 for the first time Podgorica is mentioned. This shows that the names Ribnica and Podgorica exists at the same time, so it can be concluded that those are two separate lodgments – Podgorica was a town, and Ribnica a wider area or a district. Somewhat later it was clear that Ribnica as a lodgment most probably is the same thing as Podgorica later was, but it only kept the name Ribnica beside the new one, Podgorica, as it is often the case when one place changes its name.
During the middle century Podgorica grew into a significant trading spot, at the crossroad between the coast and interiors. Since the XIV century Podgorica gains importance also in military – political significance in front of the invasion of the Otoman Empire. After a range of changes of rulers, from despot Stevan Lazarevic to Stevan Crnojevic, and the fall of the fortress Medun in 1455 under Turks, the destiny of Podgorica was almost solved. Same year, Podgorica is found among numerous Zeta places that give themselves up to Venetians, in the goal of preserving towns from the Turkish conquering. Because of their economic and political role Turks have soon renewed it and fortified it. It becomes one of the most distinguished military positions in the battle of Turkey with the hill tribes. The town itself undergoes a process of Islamizing of the citizenship, even though the citizenship is trying to resist it. In the XVII century we find interesting notes about the town from the pen of the most famous Turkish traveler writer, the famous Evlija Celebija. He stresses the importance of Podgorica and speaks about the construction of Podgorica fortress – of a strong construction, towers and city bulwarks. The fortress had one door and a trench around the newly built town. Around 700 soldiers lives in it, says Celebija. So, Podgoirca gets a new appearance of the military town from which the invasions towards the free part of Montenegro, that is Karadag – as the Turks call it, start.
During the XVIII century Podgorica is mentioned several times, as well as the fact that bishop Danilo, the founder of the dynasty Petrovic, for certain time was imprisoned in it. In this period numerous Turkish military expeditions began from this town towards Montenegro and neighboring hill tribes. The weakening of the Turkish feudalism reflected itself at the strength of Podgorica, so in the XIX century Turkish authorities exercise the greatest terror over the citizenship of the town.
Two interesting descriptions from the middle of the XIX century give the best picture of former Podgorica. French consul in Skoddar describes Podgorica as the main place of the region with 950 homes of which 1/3 is orthodox and the total number of citizens is about 6. 540. One English traveler on his passing through Serbia and Montenegro notes that Podgorica is a very nice place, with a good market, merchants and buyers from the entire Montenegro, Herzegovina, and even Skoddar itself. XIX century is the period of liberation of Podgorica, even though the central sultan authority makes strong efforts to keep its strong influence no just over the “raja” (non Muslim people) but also over the rebels of the Turkish commanders themselves. A murder of a distinguished Turkish citizen provoked a first greater diplomatic clash in the real sense of that word. After the slaughter of Montenegrins in Podgorica and Zeta and war oriented passions, a delegate commission was formed in order to establish the guilt. Liberty war from 1875. – 1878. had a success, so in 1878. Podgorica was annexed to Montenegro. The importance of the town, led to the that, that the Turkish Empire attempted to deceive this decision, but on the 27th of January in 1879. Turkish military with a certain part of the citizenship leaves Podgorica, and in the town enters Montenegrin army, welcomed with shouting and joy of the Orthodox population. Canons have marked the surrendering of the town.
With the cessation of the Turkish reign in Podgorica great ethnical and socially – cultural changes are made. The immigrants from the neighboring areas get land, and near the end of the XIX century a new town is erected, at the right bank of the Ribnica. The town develops quickly, gets wider streets and its real square at which there was a monument erected to Montenegrin fighters. Podgorica becomes a strong market. Trades and crafts are developing, and the money bureau is founded, the first Zeta savings bank, which soon changes its name into Podgoricka banka (PODGORICA’S BANK). At that time, at the beginning of the XX century Podgorica began to draw attention of the foreign capital funds, and the Italian capital fund erects the Tobacco Factory.
Economic prosperity led to the development of the cultural life. Obligatory primary school education is introduced for both sexes and confessions. The reading room starts functioning as well as the singing association “Branko”. The first newspaper appears, and in 1907 the Lower High school is founded, which will soon grow into an eight grade school.
During the reign of Prince Nikola I, Podgorica is turned into an administrative – political center of Montenegro. This town seemed for him as the only one which has suitable features for transferring the capital from Cetinje into it, but he didn’t dare to do that, because of the still actual and unstable military circumstances.
First World War brought Austro–Hungarian occupation and suffers of people in Podgorica. After the World War I, in a just liberated Podgorica, on the 26.11.1918 the Great Folk Parliament brought a decision of dethroning of the dynasty Petrovic Njegos and proclaimed the unison of Montenegro and Serbia, under the reign of dynasty Karadjordjevic, in the Kingdom of SHS (Serbs, Croats, and Slovenians), later Kingdom Yugoslavia.
Considering the former policy of the Kingdom, between two world wars Podgorica did not develop in the right way, and was the center of the constant conflicts of aristocracy with the economically, politically, and nationally deprived citizenship. Former Podgorica district, which encompassed territorial area of present Podgorica, was the center of the institutions such as Zeta financial bureau, Great court, Post office, Public Federal Legal Office, Bureau of tobacco monopoly etc. In that period in this area live around 37.000 citizens. Near the very Second World War that number went up to 50.000, while in the very core of the town lived about 14.000 citizens. Citizenship was mostly engaged in agriculture and small percentage was engaged in other business branches such as handicraft and merchandising.
The Second World War largely marked the modern history of Podgorica. From the beginning, occupational bombings, in 1941, until the ending allying, in 1949, Podgorica suffered an irretrievable damage – the town was destroyed, and thousands of people died. On the 19th December 1944, Podgorica was liberated, and this town is celebrated today as the Municipality Day.
After the war and the change of the name, Titograd became the capital of the Socialistic Republic of Montenegro, on of the republic of the Socialistic Federative Republic of Yugoslavia. The new town developed extremely quickly. By opening of schools, factories, scientific, cultural, health social institutions, Titograd soon took over the leading role in the region. Titograd became the center of the industry of aluminum, refinement of tobacco, production of furniture and clothes, and the rich resources have brought the development of the agricultural combine “13 jul” (13th JULY) which even today is considered to be one of the most famous and most quality brands when we are talking about the production of wines and alcohol beverages. Scientific institutions gathered around the University of Montenegro, contributed Titograd to become a scientific and cultural center of Montenegro.
In the 90’s of the XX century, which brought the conflicts on the territory of the former SFRY were also the period of stagnation in the development of the town, but after the ending of the wars former Titograd, now Podgorica, ,clearly oriented itself towards the European standards of the town existence. In the last few years the face of the town of Podgorica is changing rapidly. About 170.000 citizens of the capital town, now of the independent Montenegro, are witnesses of the new approach to architecture, modernization of the town infrastructure while the town grows into a new European metropolis.