The History of Podgorica - Part I
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.