The History of Podgorica - Part II
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.