Montenegro is certainly one of the most interesting places in the world and one of TOP WORLD TOURIST destination (according by Lonely Planet, …).
Even though it covers solely around 14.000 km2 and it only has about 670.000 citizens, its contribution to the world cultural heritage is impressive comparing its size.
During centuries of its rich history Montenegro has survived and remained one of the brightest models for the fight for freedom, for its own existence, and a place of which people always spoke with respect. Christian, Muslim, Illyrian, Byzantine, Turkish, and Slav civilizations merged here making Montenegro forever a crossroad of culture and history.
Montenegro has changed its name many times, from the Latin era under the mane of Prevalis, to the medieval state Zeta, and then to the modern name Crna Gora (MONTENEGRO). As the name changed, so did the land, thanks to the influence of all the civilizations which for a shorter or longer period settled the territory of Montenegro, turning it into a mosaic of cultural heritage. Even today, Montenegors mosaic of cultural heritage is its most valuable aspect.
Some will say that its name, Crna Gora (MONTENEGRO), was brought by the seamen for whom from the open sea seemed cragged and dark, because immediately above the warm shores rose mountains and crags intersected with gorges. Others would say that its name was given by its enemies, because of the bad luck which would strike everyone trying to conquer it, in some long gone days. The truth lies that the country carries its name by those who made it a state – the dynasty Crnojevic. Along with the dynasty of Petrovic they have remained the founders of a modern, small but proud, country in the Mediterranean.
Montenegro is one of the oldest European states. Maybe its name, Montenegro – as it sounds in the majority of world languages, will trick you into thinking that it is a country of South America. But if you look around the European map, one will discover that Europe with its entire national, cultural, and historically – geographical diversity hides a small, but in many ways special and attractive state in it.
Montenegro is a south European and a Mediterranean country. It is one of the most southern European states and faces the south part of the Adriatic Sea. About 500km from Rome, 1.500 km from Paris, and Berlin, and about 2.000km west from Moscow, Montenegro lies on the Balkan Peninsula in the very heart of Europe.
It lies between 41° 51’ i 43° 30’ of the north geographic width, and between 18° 26’ i 20° 21’ of east geographic length. The most southern point is located in the mouth of river Bojana in the Adriatic Sea, and the most northern point is found deep in the continental part not far from the junction of the three borders between Bosnia, Serbia, and Montenegro. Even though the distance between these two points is only 190 km, between the Mediterranean climate of the south and the cruel mountain peaks of north it as if there is an entire world. Because of this reason Montenegro is called a land of 6 continents. Geographic and climate diversity and its geographic position make Montenegro a destination which will offer you a morning bath in the waters of the Mediterranean and afternoon skiing like the one in the Alps.
As a Balkan country Montenegro is found on the crossroad between Europe and Asia. If we add the fact that on its 290 km of coast Montenegro, over the Adriatic and Mediterranean Sea, comes out onto the world ocean, then one has to speak of it as of an extremely important country for this part of Europe. Knowing this, it is not strange that the numerous civilizations were drawn to both the fertile plains and the coastal zone of Montenegro. Each of them left their mark of existence. On a small territory, you will meet the colonnades and aqueducts of antique civilizations, minarets and Turkish spas, the remains of the Ottoman Empire, medieval Christian architecture and painting on one side, and modern urban architecture with which Montenegro enters the XXI century, on the other side. Even though small, with only 411 km of state borders, Montenegro opens towards Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania and Croatia as their land neighbors, while through its territorial sea it shares its existence with all those states that have coasts.
The seas, as roads of connection between states and people, have always been of great importance. Montenegro, from the moment when it took out its liberty in the World Sea knew how to take advantages of the Adriatic. Since the Berlin congress in the end of the XIX century, Montenegro had its fleet and seamen who continued the tradition of the famous Boka maritime customs. Today, for Montenegro, the exit on the sea is the most important part of its strategic policy for the development of tourism. What the south Adriatic gave in the regard of nature and climate, Montenegro today refines with an excellent tourist offer, so it is not a wonder why, in such a short time it reached the top the list of countries which achieve (percentage wise) the highest advance in the number of tourist who visit it per year.
Montenegro lies on solely 13.812 km2, and it owns also 4.800 km2 of the surface of the Adriatic Sea. In Europe the only countries that are smaller than Montenegro are: Andorra, Lichtenstein, Luxembourg, Vatican, Monaco, and San Marino. But, if you look the diversity of its geography, and remember the long and rich history, our county will appear to you as one of the greatest. Its 650.000 citizens, and a dozen of cultures which together construct a picture of Montenegro as a multiethnic and multicultural country, maybe its greatest treasure which will capture your attention.
South of Croatia, just few hours from Dubrovnik starts Montenegro, which on its southern side will border with Albania, on the mouth of the river Bojana, on a gorgeous Ulcinj Riviera. So, on a just 60 km of the Adriatic coast you can see the picturesque Dubrovnik in Croatia, with the international airport Cilipi, and the most northern Montenegrin Adriatic town, Herceg Novi. If one knows that not far from Herceg Novi there is airport Tivat, then this is for sure the space from which you can begin your travel. With numerous tourist tours and trips, you should single out few days of your holiday for the old European town – republic Dubrovnik, and also for Herceg Novi with its VII century of existence. Extremely attractive architecture which was made under the influence of the Spanish, Venetian, French, and Austro–Hungarian design are the best enticements to visit both towns.
Almost 300 km of the Montenegrin shore lies Italy, and there is regular ferry traffic towards the harbors in Bari and Ancona. If you are staying in one of those two towns, for just a few hours, you can find yourself in Bar or in Kotor, the most important Montenegrin harbors.
In the north, the border towards Serbia, massifs mountains spread which merge with those in Bosnia, Serbia and Albania. Beside the exquisite possibilities for the development of mountain tourism, Montenegro is a very important factor in the traffic connection of the East Balkan with the warm seas.
Through the integration processes, Montenegro is becoming the full right member of the South-Eastern Association of states. Its political and strategic position and peace loving orientation make it a factor of stability in the region, and a partner for bigger and more powerful countries. As a young state, in terms of independence, in just a few months it managed to get the acceptance from the North–Atlantic International Institution, which gave hope to the goal of the Montenegro state – to preserve itself and its cultural identity, and to in a best possible way contribute, with its existence, to the progress of the entire region.
On the world tourist map Montenegro today is one of the most interesting places. If you see video clips on CNN, Euro News, or on some other well known TV station of a country where in which one can ski on the sea as well as in the mountains during the same time of year one would naturally assume that we are talking about a large country that spans across several climate and geographical zones to make the above possible. On a small territory, in the scope of only about 100 kilometers these zones merge in an unrepeatable experience for every visitor. Not far from the already mentioned Herceg Novi, on a few kilometers away Mountain Subra, almost over the entire year there is a snow cover suitable for skiing!
In only 24 yours you can experience exotic tropic plants the equivalent of Greece and alpine plants the equivalent of Switzerland. For a biologist all those 2.833 plant species and sub species will be fascinating, of which 22 can only be found in Montenegro, and nowhere else in the world. There are also 4 national parks, one of the last rainforests, the deepest canyon in the world after Colorado, and a place called Crkvice with the highest amoun of rainfall per square meter in all of Europe: all exiting for both travelers and climate expert. This is the land of the most southern bay of glacial origin, the cleanest river in Europe, the biggest lake on the Balkans, the longest underground river in the world, and of many other interesting things. On just 0.14% of the surface of Europe, the concentration of the geographic, historical, cultural, and natural resources is such that you will come back to Montenegro all your life, to meet a new side of her again and again.
When one should present Montenegro and answer the question where is Montenegro, inescapably one has to start from her shore. Spreading across the south Italy, on the east shores of the Adriatic Sea, 293, 5 km of the Montenegrin coast offers you diversity and variety just like the rest of the state. If we start from the south, the first thing that will await us will be the 13 km long beach in Ulcinj, which is often called a Copacabana of Europe. From the north, also big beach Becici, both geography and history documents that this beach was proclaimed the most beautiful European beach as far back as 1930.
Mediterranean architecture which is characteristic for the Old town is most beautiful in Budva, Kotor, and Herceg Novi, which put Montenegro on a center of the map with valuable cultural and religious monuments.
Montenegro together with Italy is the widest part of the so called Strait of Otranto. The distance is about 200 km, so Italy was and remained the closest partner of Montenegro regarding sea trade. The connections of these two countries for sue are the strongest in this part of Europe, not only because of the fact that they are connected with the Adriatic sea, but also because of history in which Princess Jelena became the wife of Vitorio Emanuel – the future Italian King, Montenegro and Italy became closer. Since her marriage the Princess was better know as Princess Jelena of Savoy and she contributed not just to rapprochement of the dynasty homes of Italy and Montenegro, but also to connection of the people and states themselves. Somewhat older citizens of Italy speak with high regard of the Montenegrin princess, who beside the love of her own people shared the same emotion towards the Italian people.
The Adriatic Sea is one of the cleanest and most crystal clear ones in the world, whose flora and fauna can be just another invitation in line of many. The Adriatic hides many secrets and memories. On several locations only this summer the existence of several antient sanken ships was discovered, so do not be surprised by the fact that in this part of the Adriatic almost every year precious amphorae, often filled with wine, then valuable monuments of passed times such as jewelry, and coins which were often a part of the piracy plunder, are brought onto the surface from the sea bottom. The town of Ulcinj for example was one of the most famous piracy centers during the passed centuries. An extreme quality of this part of the Adriatic Sea is the one that it is characterized by extremely warm currents, and a still not completely discovered riefes at its bottom, which will intrigue every fun of the underwater tourism. Montenegro is often visited by marine biologists and students, and recently Montenegro is becoming known by short movies about the underwater world of the south Adriatic. The coast is rich with olive groves, among which you will find trenches from the time of Jesus Christ. A rich fish world was and remaines the source of life of South of Montenegro.
Bigger towns on the shore, observed from the south, are Ulcinj, a medieval fortification which is surrounded by many romantic legends and stories about people who have visited it, defended it and conquered it. This is the town of the most beautiful legend, the one about the origin of Don Kihot, and his love towards Dulsineja, a girl from Ulcinj. The warmest Adriatic town will not stop fascinating you with its rich and intact nature as well as with its rich history; Bar, the center of early medieval culture, and the biggest harbor in this part of the Mediterranean. The old part of the town is a pearl of Montenegro, and a place which you have to visit in order to fully and completely sense the atmosphere of the passed times which are preserved even today in the XXI century. Today it is a Mediterranean diverse town, because of the influence of all those civilizations for which it was an irreplaceable coastal center. If we continue towards the north in the vicinity of Bar, we will come across the ruined of the famous monastery on the cape Ratac, in which Jelena Anzujska erected a basilica, from which one can see one of the highest medieval towns Nehaj.
Nehaj which was built by Venetians and fortified by the Turks. Further on are the smaller places such as Petrovac and Milocer which are characterized by the extremely mild climate and olive groves and then comes the capital of Montenegrin tourism, Budva. Budva, which with its Riviera is one of the most beautiful Mediterranean tourist centers, today is the pearl in the Adriatic coast. The town – hotel Sveti Stefan, grandiose hotel Splendid, the island tourist complex Sveti Nikola, popularly called Hawaii, with two and a half thousands year old history of the town, are a real trademark of Budva Riviera, which is characterized by yearly temperatures which are equal to those in the French and Italian Riviera. Kotor, a town under the protection of UNESCO, for sure is one of the MUST VISIT places in Montenegro. Today it is one of the most visited Adriatic lodgments and almost an unavoidable part of any kind of program of the Mediterranean cruise. Exquisite architecture, a great number of Gothic, Romanic, renascence, and baroque style make it,, along with Dubrovnik, the most interesting town on the east Adriatic coast. Herceg Novi, the most northtern Montenegrin Adriatic town, gradually raised above the gorgeous entrance into the bay of Boka Kotorska, remembers Spanish, French, Austro – Hungarian, Otoman and Venetian empires, so the influence of all of these civilizations is felt even today in the culture of Herceg Novi. This is a town with almost 300 sunny days in a year, with average yearly temperature of 16, 2 C°, and olive groves which can be found in the 520 m height above the sea level.
A range of smaller, but equally picturesque settlements which connect bigger cities of the Montenegrin shore, such as Rezevici, Perast, Prcanj, Igalo, are also interesting places for visit, because in them you can find numerous monasteries, airy spas, and flora which is specific only for this part of Europe.
Even though the Montenegrin coast is the most exposed and interesting for summer tourism, it is just a part of what Montenegro can offer to its tourists, adventurers, and explorers. Only when you go behind the narrow coastal zone above which Lovcen, Orjen and Rumija are raising, starts the road of meeting of the other face of Montenegro. Middle and north Montenegro for someone will be even more interesting then the coast zone, because it indeed has a lot to offer.
Between the Montenegrin coast and mountain lays the middle part of the Republic, which hides River Crnojevic, Skadar Lake, major city of Montenegro, its capital, and its prairies. On just 40 minutes away, Podgorica and Cetinje, the centers of modern and historic Montenegro, you will discover a picture of what Montenegro was, what is it now, and what it intends to become. Above the capital Cetinje raises, 1.660m above sea level, a mausoleum dedicated to the greatest Montenegrin poet – warrior, Njegos; the heighest situated mausoleum in the world. Cetinje is recommended to any visitor for: the Cetinje monastery (which keeps one of the three greatest Christian sanctities, the hand of John the Baptist), the castles of the dynasty Petrovic (where among other things you can find the fist pool table on the Balkans, in the Billiard Pool Hall), and the museums such as ethnographic or Njegosev museum (the one belonging to Njegos). In only for a short time you can travel from this area of history, and come to Podgorica. The major (present capital) city today is the picture of the Montenegrin state in general. After the destruction and casualties which it suffered in World War II in the fight against fascism this hot town grows today in glass in an administrative center of the entire republic. Skadar Lake with its prevalent plant and animal species maybe the most interesting segment of Montenegro for some travelers. If you wish to visit the last domicile of the pelicans, Montenegro and Skadar Lake are the only place left to do so in the world.
If in some 60 km of ride you find yourself on the slopes of the snow covered mountains that means that you are on the way to meet Montenegro in the full meaning of that word. Intersected with the gorges and canyons which beside the geographic have the historical significance, this part of Montenegro most persistently preserves its secrets and it is just on its way to be discovered. On the rivers and the peaks you will meet TV crews from all over the world who are admiring to the waters which they can drink from the flow of small wells as well as the largest rivers. The canyon of Piva, deep up to 900m in some places, is one of the most picturesque. The bridges that rise above it, the narrow roads that lie beside it take your breath away and make everyone who passes there to stop and perpetuate the fight of the man and nature equally as their co – existence. Piva monastery was moved by carrying stone by stone to its new location when the great hydro-electrical power station was built.
The most exotic mountain summer vacation place in Montenegro is the National Park Durmitor rich with lakes, canyons, forests and snow circles. Numerous small lakes which appeared in the recesses of former glaciers lie in the heights of 1,400 to 2.200m. Crno jezero (BLACK LAKE) is the well known in the entire Balkans and not one single visit to Montenegro would be complete without a visit to the Crno jezero. For the speleologists especially attractive will be the caves. The most exquisite is the Ledena pecina (ICE CAVE) with the most beautiful stalactites and stalagmites in this area of the Balkans. They are made of the everlasting ice of gorgeous shapes and the cave is located in the height of 1.900 m above sea level. One of the special attractions of Durmitor is the highest well on the Balkans, on the height of 2.000 m above sea level – Savina Voda (SAVA’S WATER).
The greatest tourist center of the region is Zabljak, and this ski resort is most often visited by the Slovenians, Czechs, Austrians and Italians, who all have their own ski destinations but come here because of its nature and tourist potential the highest European standard. Not far from this Montenegrin village we have the maple grove, a giant tree under whose treetop more than a hundred people can be placed, so the citizens of this area of Montenegro are extremely proud of it.
As part of touring Montenegro a pleasure trip of one of the most beautiful outdoor spas located in Kolasin 950m above sea level should be included. It is surrounded by a century old forests, and mountain peaks of Bjelasica, with exquisite skiing terrains, the best in Montenegro. Biogradsko jezero (BIOGRADSKO LAKE) is one of the biggest glacier lakes, surrounded by rainforest with over 50 kinds of trees. It is interesting that in the winter months this lake which is considered to be the most beautiful on the Balkan Peninsula is totally covered with ice.
Montenegrin North, rich with outdoor spas and healing herbs, is a small island of Europe which will serve as a refuge into a healthy and natural life and give you your strength back with the freshness which nature brings, and a warmness its people emit, here like nowhere else in the world. Here the guest is king, and a visit to any household will be a holiday in which you will be able you try the meals that can be found on the table solely in this part of the world and a culinary experience prepared by our Montenegrin host from the village like no other can prepare.
Your journey of Montenegro you should finish with the rafting down the canyon of Tara, 78 km long, through the cliffs over 1.000m high. The experience of rafting through the 2nd highest canyon in the world (following the canyon of Colorado) can be done in some of the traditional wooden or modern rubber rafts. Bellow a 150m high bridge, with the unrepeated landscape of small waterfalls, the voyage down the river Tara is an unforgettable European experience that on its own makes the visit to Montenegro worth while. As a Dutch writer Dolard said: “A land behind the God’d back”. This part of Montenegro simply is breathtaking!
If you look at a map of the world try to find the center: Montenegro will be closest to that spot. Where the “6 continents merge” this country offers national parks, contrasts, and crossroads which are worth visiting. It is the place from which you can go to any European destination, but we are sure that you will never forget it. This country, even though small, always attracted attention and the sympathies of the great. It was painted and described by Tennyson, Gladstone, Byron, Jaroslav Chermak, Evlija Celebija and many other great people which unanimously gave, across the span of many centuries, a portrait of a small, but proud country. Through Montenegro friends have always traveled feely to their destinations but, as Njegos once replied to a foreign army commander, for the enemy that road was much longer and harder. Europe is a mosaic of nations and cultures, and Montenegro is a Europe in small. Even today it offers its unreachable cozy nooks to the one who dares and to the one who is curious. In the land of poets and warriors a friend is always welcome, so all the good intentioned visitors Montenegro is awaiting with doors wide open and wishes you to meet it and in that way become and remain a part of it.
Montenegro – Breathtaking Beauty!