We will start the story about Montenegro with the legend of a steep and narrow footpath leading all the way from the Adriatic Sea high up into mountains.
On a hot summer’s day, a local tribesman was making his way up this steep pathway and after many hours he reached a well. Being consumed with thirst, he went close up to it and spoke out loud: “You are streaming now, but not much longer!”
The well exists only in this legend but the footpath exists even today, although nobody goes that way anymore. It is overgrown and has been abandoned for a long time, like an umbilical cord hidden after birth, but this is the road from which the state of Montenegro grew.
All around are steep cliffs, bare, grey and almost a thousand metres high. Down there is the sea.
And not just the sea but also one of the most beautiful bays in the world and the town of Kotor, for centuries the southernmost Christian settlement along the Adriatic coast of the Balkans, first under Venetian rule, later under the Austro-Hungarian crown and today part of Montenegro.
High above, passing over the mountain tops, you enter Montenegro. Most of the people from down here were in disbelief that anyone could live up there. Watching those cliffs, on high grounds, was the mythical kingdom of freedom, the “Nest of the Eagles”.
What will you see when you climb up there?
One of the leaders of the Metropolitan tribal society described in verse, sometimes with harsh humour, the discrepancy between the poor, superstitious and ignorant people and their own mission, which made them feel so great and important that, if the need was to arise, they could drink up this well in one sip.
What was their mission? That they should be and actually were a light in the darkness, like Atlas keeping the World from falling, eternal fighters for the freedom of the world. The Metropolitans convinced the Montenegrins that they were these fighters for freedom and not only for them but for the whole world.
Montenegro in the mid 19th century became the most popular micro state in Europe and when it was formally recognised at its independence, the king’s daughters where snapped up as brides for most of the European ruling families. One married the King of Imperial Italy, one married the brother of the last Russian Tsar, others married members of the English and German Royal Families and one married the King of Serbia.
In this way Montenegro became larger than it actually was, more beautiful and different from everything that surrounded it and the Montenegrins grew in stature and became more reputable.
Further acclaim could not be attained, except by going into the heavens.
Montenegrins remained a bit disappointed they had to take part in commerce and run an economy. Until a new occupation appeared – tourism – where people came to observe Montenegrins and their state and admired it.
“What is a man, but like a bird! A moment here, another moment there.” – said a Montenegrin to his guests while they were moving their chairs and brandy glasses so as to stay in the shade of a mulberry tree in front of his house.
The conversation was about world politics…
Written by: Milorad Luketic, Photo by : Visit-Montenegro.com