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Ulcinj Culture

Ulcinj is one of the oldest towns on the Adriatic Coast which for 25 years has been withstood the ravages of time. Through the centuries of the stored variety of cultures and civilizations merged in a compound. Ulcinj is like a little paradise on earth, a timelessly carved in the centuries of bloody battles, defiance, pride and love of all of those who have visited this place at least once in their life. The earliest tracks lead us to prehistoric time when Ulcinj belonged to Illyrians, a people of the Indo-European origin. The town, whose walls were often ruined in wars, was also at same speed renewed by all of those who because of the extreme beauty of this ancient town found their piece in it, building for themselves fortresses and residences.

The ancient Colchinium or Olcinijum, as Ulcinj was called in the period of Greek and Roman Empire, is mentioned in the written records of Plinije Older in his work “Naturalis Historiae” and in his works Tit Livije also mentions Ulcinj.

In the earliest period fro the cultural and historical development of Ulcinj the name of the Byzantium Emperor Justinijan is mentioned. He renewed and built fortresses in Ulcinj, and after the era of his reign, after the year 1100, the same things were done by famous rulers which ruled one part of the former Montenegro and the Coast like: Nemanjici, Balsici, Venetians, and Turks.

In the year 1183 Ulcinj becomes the most famous naval center in the Adriatic Sea, and somewhere about the same time a famous tower of Balsici was built.

Even though Ulcinj was never a capital of the Montenegrin rulers, the historical evidence leads us to conclusions that Ulcinj with the surroundings was a favorite destination of the rulers of Zeta, who used that town as some kind of a residence. In the year 1252 in Ulcinj the son of the King of Zeta Vukan, Djordjije who had a title “Princeps Diocliae” reigns.

In the year 1281 in Ulcinj its resort found also the sister of the Queen Jelena Balsic, Marija, else French, a widow of the well-known French Duke Anselm se Chaurusa. She has a title “Domina Ulcini”. Marija’s tomb was located in front of the altar of the Holy mother of God’s church or Marko`s church in Ulcinj

Also, the Queen Jelena, historically more famous as the widow of Uros I Nemanjic, with her sister Marija often used to stay in Ulcinj. The confirmation of their linkage with that town was a Franciscan convent, which the sisters built together in the year 1278.

Another Jelena, a great ruler and the widow of the Serbian Emperor Dusan, loved to stay in Ulcinj. Jelena for several years has even reigned over Ulcinj. Also in that town, in which he used to have a throne, famous ruler Djuradj Stratimirovic Balsic (1358 – 1403) is buried. In the time of the ruling era of families Nemanjic and Balsic, Ulcinj was famous for its mint factories of bronze and silver money.

In the quick onset on their fast horses in 1242 a Mongolian crowd from the central Asian areas came under the very walls of Ulcinj. As the attack of the Mongolians on the Old town of Ulcinj was unsuccessful, Mongolian government has attacked the neighboring Svac.

Historically and culturally important fact is that the famous Svac was ruined by the Mongolians and killed all of their inhabitants. The town Svac, otherwise bishopric town, had 365 churches, as many churches as there are days in a year, so in the XIII century Queen Jelena Balsic renewed it. The Italian writers Djustinijani (1533) and Bici (1610) made written records of that event.

The important fact for the cultural development of Ulcinj is that after the naval battle at Lapant (1571) in the Mediterranean Sea, in Ulcinj a famous Spanish writer Miguel de Servantes Savedra, who later wrote a world famous novel “Don Quixote” was imprisoned. It is supposed that the famous Servantes to his protagonist Don Quixote, in the same named novel, gave a lover named Dilcinee, a girl whose origin is from Ulcinj and who carried the name of the former name of Ulcinj- Cita de Dolcino, with whom Servanets was in lived with. Servants has spent almost 5 years in Ulcinj, and it is thought that together with the other slaves he was sold on a place which for them is called Slave square or Servantes`s square and it is located in the Old town. The staying of the famous Spanish writer in Ulcinj is interesting also because of the fact that the pirates who bought him, thought that Servatnes comes from a noble family, so for his ransom they have asked for much more money, so it took his family 5 years to collect that sum of money.

Ulcinj, in fact Its Old town has in the past welcomed a famous reformer Sabati Cevi (1626 – 1676) who stayed in the well-known edifice – tower of Balsici. Cevi is known in history as a promoter of Talmudo (The Holy Jewish Book).

To Cevi, according to the sources, Ulcinj was a last resort because around the year 1676 after converting himself to Islam, living as an exile, Cevi died in Ulcinj as Mehmed – effendi. Today the preserved holy burial chamber of Mehmed – effendi, is located in the yard of the family Manic, and it represents an eternal house of one of the greatest rebels of the XVII century. His tomb is preserved as sanctity. Cevi continued to live after death in the literary works.   The face and the character of the controversial Jewish writer, as people conceive Cevi, appeared in the literary works of the literary great man like: Isak Basevic Singer – (the novel “The Slave”) or an academic Erih Kos in the novel “In the Search for Messiah”. The name and the significance of the Sabati Cevi are mentioned in the work “David’s Star”, of the famous Montenegrin literate and academic Zuvdija Hodzic.

Ulcinj was interesting because of the health care tourism, so even in the 1925 in that town a scientific gathering took place, in which a famous German professor, otherwise, director of the Institute for the tropical diseases Doctor Not participated, and who thrilled with the region which surrounded Ulcinj stated: “that never in his life he saw a region richer with stars than Ulcinj, adding that the value of Ulcinj for the human organism is very great and diverse”, which once again proves that the staying in Ulcinj and its surrounding heals both soul and body.

Considering the fact that Ulcinj is famous for its development of the crafts work, this town is a birthplace of Mrio Surla, a Montenegrin African and the son of the legendary photographer from Ulcinj Rizo Surla. Beside the skillful manufacture of the beautiful photographs of Ulcinj and the surroundings, Mario is famous as a passionate fisherman and a great Boehm. It is interesting to point out that the first settlers from the family Surla have come to Ulcinj 400 years ago as slaves.

For the tourist development of the town of great importance are personalities like: Doctor Maksut Hadzibrahimovic, a scientific and expert worker, then tourist and public worker Dzelal Hodzic, and the president of the Union of the Albanians doctor Gani Karamanga. For the cultural development of Ulcinj and the surroundings the name of the Montenegrin painter Milo Pavlovic is connected, who has created his work and still creates in Ulcinj and whose face and work are famous even beyond the borders of Montenegro.

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