The area of Durmitor, the mountain territory rich with history and nature which takes your breath away, lies between two, maybe most beautiful Montenegrin rivers, Tara and Piva, on one side, and all the way towards west slopes of the spacious Sinjajevina to Scepan polje, on the other side. Even though it is high and sometimes unapproachable this territory remembers tumultuous happenings and numerous tribes and nations who visited it. Illyrians created first settlements, more precisely their tribe Autariati. Suppressed by Celts they left these territories already in the IV century B.C. With the arrival of Romans the area of Durmitor has become a part of their territory all until the VII century when it was inhabited by Slav tribes. Roman citizens, whom they met here they called Vlasi, Vlah as an ethnographic name later got the meaning of a person who deals with kettle breeding no matter the nationality. Already from early times, the breeding of kettle was a primary activity of the inhabitants, which largely relied on favorable geographic circumstances, especially on a large number of quality pastures.
When we are talking about the etymology of the word Durmitor there are several opinions. For some Latin word Dormire, which means to sleep, is the real source of this word, while for some others that is Celtic drumitor, which means water from the mountain.
When the first Slav states on Balkans were created this area was a part of the early feudal Serbian state from the IX century with which ruler Vlastimir reined. Administratively it was divided on parishes and it included a wider territory. When in the first half of XI century a state was formed in Zeta, Durmitor area was a part of it. Somewhat later old state Raska, which was ruled by Vukan, Nemanja, and others who were fighting for a long time with Byzantine was dominant in this area.
The arrival of the Turks meant a new struggle for inhabitants of Durmitor area. From 1482 to 1857, as long as the Turkish rein on Balkans lasted, the people from Durmitor incessantly resisted the great Empire no matter the cruel forays of the Turks. With their courage the people of this area slowly exerted themselves in several battles when more numerous and more powerful Turkish army suffered losses of several thousands of men. In 1862 a great victory was won in Saranci.
This area is especially interesting by one event from Montenegrin history. Smail aga Cengic (the famous notorious general of Turkish army) was killed in 1840 on Mljeticak. In the long lasting fight the citizens of this area have suffered a great losses, but thanks to persistent fight and libertinage tradition Turks have never managed to settle their vassals in this area and to establish their authority. During the centuries of existence in this area tribal authority has been made and a real tribal life. In the beginning the territory was divided on Drobnjak and Piva, but later on the territory of Drobnjak some other tribes were also formed such as Uskoci, Jezera, and Saranci. The center of these tribes was Zabljak. In 1878 the territory of Durmitor became a part of Montenegro becoming a part of the administratively admitted state.
Several churches and monasteries played a significant culturally historical role for this area – Piva monastery from 1573, monastery Bijela from XVIII century, monastery Dobrilovina, which according to some quotations dates from the age of Nemanjici, as well as monasteries Podmalinsko and Dovolja. The Church in Krs, as well as the one on Zabljak were raised in honor of great victories over the Turkish army. Several times Turks have set on fire the monasteries, but people from this area renewed the and kept them, so by the preserved cultural and historical values Piva monastery is one of the most important facilities in this area.
In the period between 1857 and 1878 this area was a border territory so it was still exposed to some smaller fights with Turkish military squads. Somewhat later it got connected with Pljevlja and Bijelo Polje creating in that way a firm free territory in the north of Montenegro. During the World War I Durmitor area was exposed to the attacks of the occupier, but the resistance was given during the entire war, most often through Komit groups and squads.
In the period in between wars the area of Durmitor was a part of Savnik county, with the municipalities Planino-Pivska, Zuto – Pivska, then Jezerska, where Zabljak was located, Drobnjacka, with Savnik, and Uskocka and Saranska. In this period in this territory kettle breedig was dominant, and people were also engaged in exploiting of Durmitor forests. Two smaller sawmills and several schools were opened in that period, and of special importance was the opening of the road Niksic – Savnik – Zabljak – Pljevlja. With forming of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenians in these areas for the first time an active political and party life is being established, and just before the World War II, for this area extremely important, communist party is being formed. The significance of the communist party for this area was great. Beside the great bans and influence of the authorities for the decrease of the activities of the party, the communist party thanks to numerous students and intellectuals has encouraged people from Durmitor and Zabljak to resist – namely, on a proposition to name Zabljak Aleksandrov grad (ALEXANDER’S TOWN), by king Aleksandar, majority of people stood up and prevented that kind of attempt. People from this area have condemned the approaching of Yugoslavia to tripartite treaty showing that it appreciates the freedom above anything. Zabljak at that time was a place of great demonstrations.
Zabljak and Durmitor with its people have given the greatest contribution and sacrifice in the World War II. For just seven days after the starting of the rising against the fascists Zabljak was liberated, and the people started to form organs of rising authority. The contribution of Durmitor folk – liberating partisan squad remained inscribed with golden letters when we are talking about the anti fascist activity on the Balkans. Durmitor republic, as this area was called, survived many attacks, and for a while it was a fulcrum of the Great head quarters at the head with Josip Broz Tito. This not so big area during the war had over 2.500 thousands of victims, and it have 15 folk heroes. After the WW II Zabljak developed from a small village town into a tourist town. Today it is becoming a leading winter center in the region, which is using the beauty of the nature in which it is located in the right way to affirm itself as a place for rest, as well as to affirm the state in which it is located.
Eight kilometers east from Zabljak are found the remains of the medieval own Pirlitor, a fortified town from XIV century, well known from the folk poems about the Duke Momcilo, who died here because of his wife’s treason. Folk poem about the Duke who lived in the town Pirlitor is one of the most popular legends of this area. Momcilo has a horse with wings Jabucilo, a sword with eyes, and according to the legend he was invincible. According to the legend greedy king Vukasin fell in love in Momcilo’s beautiful wife Vidosava. Vidosava who couldn’t resist him has burned the wings to Jabucilo, so Momcilo didn’t manage to resist the enemy. After the death of his owner Jabucilo crushed with sadness threw himself in Crno jezero, so some of the old local people of this area will tell you that sometimes even today a scream of Jabucilo is heard from the lake.