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Petrovac

petrovacPetrovac lies on the coast of Montenegro, between Bar and Budva. It boasts a sandy beach, Petrovac City Beach, that is more than 600 meters long, and the city is very popular to tourists. It is viewed as a calm vacation destination for many, as opposed to outside towns of Sutomore and Budva.

Petrovac began its history during the early Roman times. During that time, small villas were built at Krš Medinski. Remnants of the villas and baths were located behind St Ilija’s church.

In later years, a Slav village was built, which was mentioned in the Chronicles of the Priest of Duklja. A Venetian fortress, built during the 16th century, can be found at the end of the bay on the northern side of Petrovac. The village was claimed to have been built to discourage pirates from entering the northern bay.

Petrovac’s name was originally Kaštel Lastva. During the early 1900’s however, the area was renamed after King Peter I Karađorđević. During that time, Petrovac had only around 300 local inhabitants.

Between WWI and WWII, Petrovac became very popular as a vacation destination for the wealthy. Today, there are a number of tourists every year, most taking advantage of the beaches. Although there is avid tourism in Petrovac, the area is nowhere near as overcrowded during tourism peaks as Budva.

Those visiting Petrovac will find the beaches to be its main attraction. Hotels, restaurants and a night club are also available, and there is access to neighboring beaches at Buljarica and Luchice.

Buljarica Beach sits just 2 kilometers from Petrovac and offers more than 2400 meters of coastline. Many enjoy walking to the beach from Luchice, while others take advantage of the many caravan parks and resorts in this area.

Luchice is in the vicinity of Bar, just 500 meters from Petrovac. In the shape of a bay, this 220 meter long beach offers an array of cafes and bars. For families, there is even a waterslide at the end of the beach, as well as shopping and other amenities.

Though Petrovac is small in comparison to other resort towns in Montenegro, there is a football club, which plays in Montenegro’s First League.

Over the years, Petrovac has grown both in size and in stature. Casino Royale, the 21st film in the James Bond series, was filmed on location on Petrovac. While there is little seen of the town itself, the casino and outdoor café can be seen and tourists can view those structures when they visit Petrovac. A portion of Brothers Bloom was also filmed in Petrovac, and the beautiful surrounding scenery has been used often in music videos from local and regional artists.

Petrovac is surrounded by beautiful beaches on one side and hillsides of flowers, and forests on the other. The resort offers pebble and sand beaches and many shops, restaurants, and other activities. Tourists can take advantage of the quiet, pristine beaches, visit the local shops, or spend the time visiting outlying areas and mountainsides.

Rijeka Crnojevica

rijeka crnojevicaRijeka Crnojevića lies very near the Skadar Lake coast in Montenegro. This small town sits beside the Crnojević River. Rijeka Crnojevića is a town rich in history, part of the ancient trading route that has run through Montenegro for centuries. Along the lake, visitors can see old architecture that has stood the test of time, remaining intact since trader days.

The village is part of the Old Royal Capital of Cetinje. In 1478, the Ottomans captured Žabljak Crnojevića after defeating Ivan Crnojević’s army. Ivan then moved his official seat to Obod, which was renamed Rijeka Crnojevića.

When Montenegro was under Cetinje rule, royals fled to Rijeka Crnojevića to escape the harsh winters of the Black Mountain. Visitors can still see the remains of the house of Vladika Petar I Petrović (St Peter of Cetinje), which featured arches on the ground floor with upper rooms that stuck out over the road.

Getting to Rijeka Crnojevića is not difficult. Many simply take a bus from Budva to Podgorica. On the route, drivers will stop along the road for those wishing to visit the village of Rijeka Crnojevića. There are also direct bus routes that run from the village to Podgorica, though these are not regular.

The area around the village is filled with flora and fauna, and sights to behold. The ancient trade route still stands, although often covered with wildlife. There is also an ancient bridge, once used for the trade route, and many abandoned fortresses along the path to and from the village.

Rijeka Crnojevića bridge is a very popular attraction. A double-arched limestone creation, the bridge is more than 40 meters in length. Also known as Danilo’s Bridge, is spans over the Crnojević River, and is an important historical monument for the region. Built in the 1850’s, the bridge was erected in the memory of Prince Danilo of Montenegro’s father, Stanko Petrović. Danilo also built a small house, known as Mostina, on one side of the river, right next to the bridge. The bridge, at that time, replaced a wooden bridge that was originally built by Danilo’s predecessor, Petar II Petrović-Njegoš.

Stari Most is considered to be one of the best restaurants in Montenegro. Situated on the riverside promenade, Stari Most has an excellent view of the bridge and serves up fish and fish soup that are major tourist favorites.

The small village serves as a starting point for a circular walking track that is 7/6 km long. The track runs through the Obod ruins, which is also where the first printing press of the region was located. The 2 hour track also passes by Obod Cave by the river.

Area attractions include hiking, swimming, and sightseeing. Camping is very popular in the area, although there is a relatively large hotel close to the village. There are also many places to set up tents and enjoy camping in the great outdoors.

Many enjoy hiking to Virpazar from the village, which can take 2 days and is often reserved for those more seasoned hikers. On the river, a canoe can prove to be very relaxing, and canoes can be rented locally, as can boat tours of the area.

Durmitor National Park

durmitor
Durmitor National Park lies in northwestern Monenegro, and covers the entire Durmitor mountain range, as well as a narrow area along the Tara River. The highest peak in the park, Bobotov Kuk, stands at just over 2,500 meters.

Žabljak, a small village, is the only town within the park’s boundaries and serves as the main tourist hub for the area. The park itself was created in 1952, and covers 390 kilometers, including Durmitor, the Tara Canyon, and the Draga and Susica Rivers, as well as the plateau of Komarnica.

The village at the entrance of the park hosts a post office and bank, as well as a supermarket and a handful of restaurants and hotels. Tourists can stay in Žabljak, where all amenities are available, or seek accommodations in one of the outlying towns or villages nearby.

On the northern side of the park lies the Tara River Canyon, with the Piva River Canyon to the west, and the Komarnica River Canyon on the southern side. Durmitor plateau lies to the east, giving visitors a range of landscapes and areas to explore.

Durmitor National Park was accepted into UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1980. The park was originally formed by glaciers and hosts a number of rivers as well as underground streams. The Tara River Canyon offers the deepest gorges in all of Europe, along with pine forests, clear lakes, and various types of flora. Flora is celebrated during Mountain Flowers Day, which is a festival held in mid-July each year.

48 peaks in all make up the Durmitor, making it a very popular tourist attraction from December to Mid-March, when tourists enjoy skiing at the major ski resort nearby. During summer months, river rafting and hiking are at the top of visitor’s to-do lists. The 18 glacial lakes, including Crno Lake, are also a popular place for tourists and locals alike to visit.

Those searching for wildlife are sure to find their fill in the park, which is home to more than 160 different species of birds, and more than 50 various mammals. Butterflies are abundant as well. Thick forests provide protection for the wildlife and sightseeing opportunities for visitors, with some trees standing at more than 50 meters high.

During the warmer months, cattle and sheep can be seen grazing on the lands in the nearby village. The mountain plateaus offer numerous trails that can serve as camping grounds with shelters available.

Durmitor National Park is a relatively remote area, being accessible only by automobile or bus. The park sits about 3 hours or so from Podgorica, and visitors often travel by tour bus from outlying areas to spend the day or to camp in the wilderness of the area during the warmer months. Accommodations are available to those who would rather spend several days in the park, by way of Žabljak, where all the amenities of home can often be found, complete with room and board. Day activities are available most months, depending on the weather at the time.

Bar

barBar, a major seaport of Montenegro, is a coastal town, located in the southern region of the country. The city lies in the centre of the Bar Municipality, and offers a wealth of things to see and do for locals and tourists alike.

Trains regularly visit the town from Belgrade, and ferries can be seen coming and going from Italy. While the northern region of the coast was ruled by Venice and Austria for centuries, the southern region of Bar fell under Turkish rule for more than 300 years. In this southern area, visitors relish at the sight of Ottoman inspired buildings and mosques. The more modern areas of Bar, founded near the turn of the 20th century, feature more contemporary buildings and styles. Old Bar, or Stari Bar as it was known in the past, can be seen in the mountains behind the newer city. Here, visitors can see ruins from this long-forgotten world, as well as various other sites and attractions.

Bar is filled with museums, galleries, and churches. From St. Nicholas’ Church to King Nikola’s Palace, there is certain culture to enjoy. During the 9th century, Bar was the seat of the Catholic diocese. It was elevated to become an archdiocese in 1089, and was given the title of Primate of Serbia.

King Nikola’s Palace, built in the mid 1880’s, is now home to a wide collection of royal furnishings, antiques, and folk costumes, and offers a wonderful waterfront view of the city.

The area around Bar remains nearly untouched by civilization. It is rich in vegetation and offers beautiful views of the natural mountainside and shores. Hiking is a popular pastime in this area. The nearly 50 kilometres of coastline offer swimming, fishing, and various other water activities. Those wanting to really enjoy an adventurous day can boat to the Queen’s Beach from Canj. This inset island can only be reached by sea and is completely enclosed behind a wall of rock.

Bar is home to a number of wonderful beaches, although not all of them are the best for swimming. There is a marina and an industrial port in the city, making the beach much better for boating than for swimming. Susanj Beach, in the northern region, is very popular among tourists and does offer more prime swimming areas.

Other natural attractions in and around Bar include a pine forest and Red Beach, which was named due to the colour of the red sand found here. Bar offers a wonderful array of restaurants, hotels, shops and more than 50 sports clubs and associations within the city, including many water sports clubs. Many chess clubs and celebrities have visited the area over the years, as sports tourism is a main attraction in Bar.

Bar was host to the FIBA Europe Under 16 Championship in 2010, as well as the Men’s U18 European Handball Championship during that same year. Whether sports or nature-minded, tourists are sure to find an array of things to do and see in this lovely city.

Njegusi

njegusiLocated between Kotor and Cetinje sits Njeguši. This quaint little mountain village is part of the old territory, and was the birthplace of rules from the Petrovic Dynasty, rulers of the area from 1696 until 1918.

During Turkish rule, the village served as a traffic port between Europe and the remainder of the world. The location of the village made it an important area during the Turk reign. Traffic from Kotor to Cetinje during this time was only viable through the village. There is still a restaurant “Kod Pera na Bukovicu”, that was built over 130 years ago, and still offers delicious local cuisine such as smoked ham and cheese.

The road that currently runs between Kotor and Njeguši was built during the latter part of the 19th century. Once better roads leading into and out of Cetinje were built, the village seemed of little importance to the rest of the world, although it is today a thriving reminder of days gone by. The village itself is located inside the Lovćen National Park, on the slopes of Mount Lovćen.

Traditional folk architecture is abundant throughout Njeguši, and one of its largest attractions for tourists. Local forms of prosciutto (Njeguški pršut) and cheese (Njeguški sir) are very popular to tourists and locals alike. These traditional fares are created in the village exclusively, along with grape brandy that also draws tourists from time-to-time. Visitors will find many roadside stalls that sell the ham and cheese, as well as fruit brandy and honey. Handmade souvenirs are also readily available.

The picturesque village is a favorite stopping point for many travelers to Montenegro, and boasts an altitude of 900m, with a breathtaking view of the sea below the mountain’s peak. It is nearly untouched by modern civilization, having no industry, and simply sits as it has for centuries, nestled by the mountains.

The road itself serves as an attraction for most, winding its way from Kotor to the village, and hosting more than 25 curves on the 25 km roadway. Temperatures in the summer make the village a very popular stopping point, as they tend to be much lower in Njeguši than in other coastal towns. The view of the coast is a main attraction, and on a clear day, the coast of Italy can be spotted from atop the mountain.

Most who visit the area seek accommodations in Kotor or nearby villages, as Njeguši is a small village with little to offer, outside of the cuisine and scenery. It is just a short ride to Kotor however, and visitors can fill their days with hiking, picture-taking, or simply breathing in the fresh mountain air and gazing at the sea below the peak.

Around the village, there are still smaller settlements that were formed centuries ago. One of the peculiarities of the area is its many churches. Though only a handful of local inhabitants, the village boasts 15 churches. There were 17 in total until WWII. The churches include Saint Archangel Mihailo, Saint Đorđe, Saint Jovan, Saint Lady, Saint Nikola, Saint Petka, Saint Prophet Jeremija, Saint Sava, Saint Sunday, Saint Transfiguration, and Saint Vrač.

Podgorica

podgoricaPodgorica is the capital city of Montenegro and serves as its economic, cultural and administrative center. Located along the River Zeta basin, it contains more than 10 percent of the overall territory of Montenegro.

Podgorica has endured a rich history, often filled with turmoil. Human settlements have been evident in the city since the Neolithic Age and the first mention of the city by its current name was documented in 1326. Upon Turkish invasion in 1474, the growth of Podgorica was halted. Turkish forces had originally used the city for a trading post but it quickly turned to use as a base for launching attacks against Montenegrin rebellion forces. The city remained under rule by the Turks until 1878 when under the Berlin Congress, it was annexed to Montenegro. From then on, the growth of the city was restarted and it quickly became an economic center for the region.

Today, the city offers much in the way of historical and cultural diversity. The climate is a mix between dry and hot summers and rainy and mild winters, much like other Mediterranean territories. A clear mountain river runs through the very center of the city and it is very common to see locals fishing in the downtown city area. There are a number of museums in the city that highlight the rich heritage of the Podgorican people. Visitors commonly travel to the Contemporary Arts Center as well as the Municipal Museum and the Natural History Museum. The Contemporary Arts museum is housed in the former winter home of King Nikola I.

Tourist interests include the ancient fortress of Medun and the ancient city of Doclea. There are many regions of the city that have maintained their historic look and ancient architecture abounds. The Old Clock tower offers narrow streets and two small mosques and the remains of an old Turkish prison are located near the bus station.

Hotels, restaurants and shops are also found abundantly in the city. The Hotel Podgorica is located on the banks of the River Moraca directly across from the Turkish prison. Hotel Kerber offers a number of rooms as well as a bar, fitness center, restaurant, pharmacy, book store and a number of boutiques. The Monastery of Dajbabe offers a religious experience for visitors and the numerous cafes and restaurants give tourists a taste of the region and a host of historically prepared dishes. Il Giardino is located on the Roman square in close proximity to various banks and ministries and is a very popular restaurant with tourists and locals alike.

Podgorica is located on the ideal pathway and can be easily accessed from various other points in Montenegro. Budva and Petrovac are located just a few miles away and the Skadar Lake National Park is just a 20 minute drive from the town’s center. Podgorica Airport offers regular flights to Belgrade and various international destinations and is located just over 6 miles from the city’s center. There are mountain and seaside views from most of the main roads running into and out of the city to various other regions in Montenegro.

Lovcen

lovcenLovcen is a National Park that overlooks the Adriatic Basin as well as Boka and Kotorska Bays. It sits close to Kotor and has two peaks, Jezerski vrh and Stirovnik. The slopes on Lovcen Mountain are very rocky and have many pits and fissures. These give it a spectacular look and the mountain itself is a major tourist attraction. Many tourists visit simply to get pictures of the mountainside.

Lovcen Mountain combines climates from both the Adriatic Sea and the mainland. There are more than 1200 different plant species on the mountain, four of which are endemic. The National Park contains the highest peak and most of the central mountainside. It covers more than 60km. The region of the mountain was proclaimed a National Park in 1952 and was established to help protect the region’s heritage.

The area around the mountain holds many small villages and old houses and the road that climbs the mountainside from Kotor to Njegusi is where the Royal Family of Petrovic was established. The mountain has rich historical and cultural influence. During the Great War, the Montenegrin Army was situated directly across from the mountain when it began firing on Austro-Hungarian forces. Many military coups were achieved using the mountain as protection from enemy forces.

Early in 1916, the Austro-Hungarian forces launched their offensive strike against Montenegro, again using the mass cover of the mountains to protect them from enemy fire. The bombardment of the mountain played a major role in how the war was won.

Hiking is a popular pastime on the mountain and the reason that many visit this region throughout the year. Many hiking tours are offered from Kotor and other surrounding towns and hiking to the top of the mountain allows visitors to view scenery that includes the Bay of Kotor and the landscapes surrounding the region. The top of the mountain is also where many visitors trek to view Petar II Petrovic Njegos’ Mausoleum.

The Mausoleum was constructed in 1845 on the mountain’s peak and dedicated by Petar II Petrovic Njegos to his uncle, Petar I Petrovic Njegos. Peter II asked upon his death that he be buried in the church on the mountain so that he could view all Serb lands while resting in peace. He died in 1851 and was first buried in a monastery in Cetinje because his people feared that the Turks would come and decapitate his body. In 1855, his remains were transferred to the Oath Chapel on top of Mount Lovcen. The chapel was destroyed by Austrian forces in 1916 however and his remains were again transferred to the monastery in Cetinje. King aleksandar Karadjordjevic had the chapel rebuilt in 1925 and it was replaced with the Njegos Mausoleum in 1974. The building and the panoramic view can be reached today by stairs that tunnel into the mountainside. There are a total of 461 steps leading up to the mounatin’s peak and the statue of Njegos which was carved from granite and stands nearly four meters tall.

Our Lady of the Rocks

our-lady-of-the-rocksPerast has two small islets just off the coast. One of those islets is Gospa od Škrpjela or Our Lady of the Rocks. Our Lady of the Rocks is an artificial island that was created according to legend by seamen who laid rocks on in the sea after finding an icon of Madonna and Child there. The sinking of old ships loaded with rocks contributed to the island’s creation.

The main and largest structure on the island is the Roman Catholic Church which is names Our Lady of the Rocks. The church today has a museum attached that holds many historical artifacts from the area. It also has a gift shop that sees thousands of visitors every year. A navigation light is located on the western end of the island and the structures and architecture offer a glimpse into the historical significance of the island as well as the surrounding region of Perast.

According to the legend, the seamen built the island by placing rocks near the Madonna and Child icon. As they returned from successful voyages out to sea, they would lay a rock in the Bay of Kotor. This led to the eventual creation of the islet and a custom of throwing rocks in the sea is still today a major attraction for many visitors. Each year at sunset on the 22nd of July, Fasinada is held. This celebration involves the residents of the area taking a boat out into the Bay and throwing rocks into the sea. This widens the island surface and has been a custom for centuries.

The first church known to be built on the islet was of Serbian Orthodox faith and was constructed in 1452. The Roman Catholics took over the church and built the Church of Our Lady of the Rocks that stands today. This structure was built in 1632. Upgrades took place in the church in 1722 and today it contains a number of paintings by Tripo Kokolja, a baroque artist during the 17th century. The Death of the Virgin is one of his most prominent pieces. Ten meters long, this painting hangs in the church and draws many visitors every year. Paintings by several Italian artists are also hanging in the church. Our Lady of the Rocks, painted in 1452 by Lovro Dobričević from Kotor as well as a collection of silver votive tablets and tapestry can also be seen.

Two marble altars stand in the main nave of the church. These altars are dedicated to St. Rocco and the Immaculate Conception and were created in the Baroque design. There is another marble altar in the main presbytery and the icon of the Virgin Mary with Jesus sits in the church as well. The bell tower, divided into three different parts, is a major tourist attraction today.

Local tours are available to the islet from Perast. It takes only about five minutes to arrive on Our Lady of the Rocks and many take time while visiting Perast to travel to the islet. Many who visit Kotor also take the time to view this historic treasure.

Sveti Stefan

sveti-stefanSveti Stefan is a resort in Montenegro, just under four miles from Budva. The resort sits on an islet and offers visitors a number of luxurious amenities. The islet of Sveti Stefan and a portion of the mainland were very popular among wealthy visitors from 1960 to 1980. The hotel itself is now a 5-star resort and part of the Aman Resorts group. Sveti Stefan was originally an island but is now connected to the Montenegrin mainland via a narrow isthmus. The resort has more than 50 rooms as well as cottages and various suites, all located on the islands as well as 8 grand suites.

In 2010, Sveti Stefan resort won the Hotel of the Year award from the Gallivanter’s Guide group. The island has more than 1 mile of coastline on the Adriatic Sea and lies directly to the south of Budva between the Sveti Stefan villages and Przno.

Sveti Stefan was originally a small village and during the Tito Regime the Yugoslavian government acquired the lands and turned the buildings into a hotel. During the 15th century, the island village was known as Divic and was primarily composed of Muslim inhabitants. It was renamed Sveti Stefan after Saint Stephen. The village was fortified to protect inhabitants from the Turks and soon became a retreat for pirates. The island had 12 original families and when the village was established in the early 1800s, there were only about 400 inhabitants. When the villages moved inland, the island village was set up as a resort for the rich and famous of the world. When Montenegro separated from Yugoslavia, the resort declined.

During 1934 and 1936, Villa Milocer built Queen Marija Karadordevic a summer residence and that residence was refurbished in 2008 and opened as part of the resort. The villa now contains more than 79 acres of land and is surrounded by hundreds of olive trees. During the popular years between 1960 and 1980, the island was visited by many celebrities such as Sophia Loren, Orson Welles, Kirk Douglas, Elizabeth Taylor and many others. the island resort has been reconstructed and redesigned over the years to attract tourism. Today, it offers a glimpse into old world charm while providing many modern amenities to visitors.

The Cliff Pool from the resort looks over the Adriatic sea and the various suites and cottages offer luxurious amenities. Every cottage and suite on the island is designed to be different than the others but every one offers luxurious amenities and the historic charm of the old village. The walls, doors and windows have all been preserved, giving the interior as much history as the exterior.

Those visiting Sveti Stefan will find many things of interest and the main dining area on The Piazza offers an open air dining experience along with an Antipasti Bar, Cigar Room and Taverna. Dining venues in the resort include the Queen’s Chair which overlooks the Budva Bay, the Olive Restaurant which overlooks the beach and the Beach Café among many others.

Cetinje

cetinjeCetinje is the honorary capital of Montenegro. The town offers historical and cultural influences as well as modern amenities. The small city sits on a landscape surrounded by Mt. Lovcen as well as other limestone mountains.

The town’s historical heritage is vast. It was founded during the 15th century and quickly became the center of life and culture for Montenegrin people. It is due to this vast heritage that Cetinje is now the honorary capital of Montenegro.

Turkish fueled conflicts led Ivan Crnojevic, ruler of Zeta, to move his country’s capital to Mt. Lovcen. In Cetinje in 1482, Crnojevic’s court was constructed and a monastery followed just two years later. With the building of the monastery and court, this new capital was founded and called Cetinje, for the River Cetina. The monastery quickly became home for the Zeta metropolitan region so the town was considered not only the center for the material life but for the spiritual as well.

Progress was interrupted during the final years of the 15th century. Zeta lost independence in 1499 and the only free region of the territory lay between the Bay of Kotor and the Crnojevic River. During the following two centuries, the city slowed development. It fell under Venetian and Turkish rule and during the 16th and 17th centuries, the monastery was destroyed. During the latter years of the 17th century, Cetinje was under rule by the Petrovic Dynasty and began once again to grow.

When Montenegro gained its independence in 1878, Cetinje became its capital. Buildings were modernized and foreign consulate buildings were constructed for French, Italian, British, Russian and Austro-Hunarian rulers. Under rule of Prince Nikola I Petrovic, Cetinje began to make great progress. The first hotel, the Lokanda, was built as well as the Prince’s Palace and a hospital. When Montenegro was declared a kingdom in 1910, Cetinja experienced even more development. The Government House was built and the population of the city grew to more than 5,000 citizens.

Between the first and second World Wars, Cetinje expanded its boundaries and when the Parliament of Montenegro decided to move the administrative center to Titograd, the city when through harder financial and economic times. Building industrial regions while neglecting the cultural and traditional capacities lost the city its hold on prosperity. During the end of World War II, the city was neglected as a destination for tourism and developed its industrial center. Today however, tourism is alive and well in Cetinje.

The city offers a number of interesting sights including the Cetinje Monastery, the Vlaska Church which was built in 1450, the Zetski dom royal Theater and many historical foreign embassies all of which offer ancient architecture and historical importance. Cetinje holds the oldest libraries in all of Montenegro as well. The Library of Cetinje Monastery was founded at the end of the 15th century and contains Cyrillic manuscripts and other historical liturgical books.

Cetinje is connected via three lane motorways to Budva and Podgorica with each town lying about 19 miles from the city. An old historic road that runs from Kotor to Cetinje offers beautiful views of the surrounding landscapes and the Bay of Kotor.

Ostrog Monastery

ostrogOstrog Monastery is considered by many to be the highpoint of visiting Montenegro. Situated directly on the mountainside between Niksic and Podgorica at 900 meters above the ground, the monastery offers beautiful view over the Bielopavlici Plains. The monastery began its cultural journey many centuries ago when Montenegro was in a fight for its independence from the Ottoman Empire. Christians in the area at that time headed to the mountainside for refuge. They established a place to worship and the monastery was founded by St. Basil. St. Basic was the Bishop of Herzegovina who was known as Vlasilijie and later became St. Basic of Ostrog during the 17th century.

The body of St. Basil is enshrined today within a shrine in the monastery. Legend has it that his remains provide healing powers which is one reason that thousands of visitors flock to Ostrog Monastery every year. Building the monastery was difficult as it is actually an expanded natural cave and sits almost vertically on a cliff. The monastery has an upper and lower part with the chapel being the most frequented area.

ostrog-bjelopavliciThe upper monastery was constructed first with focus on the cave directly above Zagorak. St. Basil had the monastery extended to include the Ostrog cliffs and build the church in the first cave. Sleeping quarters and storage were built in the second cave. The third cave was a repository and held the most influential and valuable religious artifacts of that time.

The upper region of the monastery has seen many battles and conquests over the centuries. During the 19th century, Duke Mirko Petrovic and 17 of his soldiers held themselves up in the monastery to defend it against Turkish invasion. They held their place for nine days before being ordered to evacuate and carry out many of the religious artifacts held there. No one is quite sure when the lower area of the monastery was constructed although today it serves as the Church of Stain Trojan and the construction date shows 1824.

Many expansions have taken place over the decades with a significant one being done from 1923 to 1926. Fire had destroyed much of the building and reconstruction took place during these three years. Today, Ostrog Monastery serves as a pilgrimage for Christians as well as Muslims and Catholics. Many claim to experience healing once they have visited the monastery. Some tell stories of having diseases completely eliminated from their bodies while others, and many who are not particularly religious in nature, claim to have been visited in their dreams by St. Basic himself.

The monastery today is visited by those of all faiths and from virtually every country in the world. It is particularly popular during most religious holidays but can be accessed at any time of the day or night and at all times of the year. Guided tours for Ostrog Monastery area available from the neighboring town of Niksic although many prefer to visit the monastery completely independent from guides in order to experience its true spiritual beauty.

Skadar Lake

skadar-lakeSkadar Lake is situated on the border of Albania. It is the largest of all lakes found in the Balkan Peninsula. In 1983, the Montenegrin area of the lake and the lands surrounding it were declared a national park. In 1996 it was added by the Ramsar Convention to the World’s List of Wetlands of International Importance. In 2011 the region was nominated for heritage status with UNESCO. Today, millions of visitors flock to the area to view the beautiful natural landscape.

Skadar Lake was the region where royal families chose to spend their summers and where Turkish invaders tried to take over. Some of the finest wines and cuisine can be found near Skadar Lake and many in Montenegro feel that this region is the heart of their country.
Skadar Lake has had a long and cultural history. It was a battleground for many centuries, after being invaded by the Turks during the 13th century. The Turks left the area after the fall of the Ottoman Empire and in 1875, the borders were confirmed to be part of independent Montenegro by the Congress of Berlin. Skadar town remained incorporated into Albania while other villages in the region became part of independent Montenegro. Today, villages in the area retain strong Albanian influences and many residents are fluent in both the Serbian and Albanian languages.

lake-skadarDuring the 19th and 20th centuries, King Nikola set up a summer court in the Skadar region. During World War II, the town of Virpazar experienced a Partisan uprising and there are monuments in the town today paying tribute to those who fell during that uprising. The region is calm today with many visitors coming from all over the world to experience the tranquil beauty that the lake has to offer.

Centuries ago, Skadar Lake met the sea and there are seashell fossils scattered about the region today. When tectonic plates moved and volcanos overflowed, sea levels fell and the Zeta-Skadar plains began to emerge between the mountainsides of the Dinaric Alps. The lake is fed by a series of springs underground as well as the Moraca River. The area of the lake changes during the seasons and in the summer, it can be as wide as 370 kilometers. During the winter it is normally more than 500 kilometers as it gains water from the surrounding mountains. The average span is about 44 kilometers long and 10 kilometers wide. The lake is more than 8 meters deep in some areas and can hit 60 meters deep in others.

Wildlife is massive in the area with everything from birds to a range of fish. More than 260 bird species can be found in the Lake Skadar region and the surrounding mountains are home to a wide range of tortoises, snakes and lizards. Wild boar and various wolves have been seen in the region as well. Many medicinal herbs have been found here and wild orchids grow abundantly. As the lake swells during the winter months, more than 50,000 birds spend their winters here and visitors can enjoy a tremendous amount of trout, carp, perch and pike in the lake.

 

Tivat

TivatTivat is located on the coast in Montenegro in the Bay of Kotor. The town is located in the heart of the smallest municipality in Montenegro by area. The town is the youngest in the region but archeology has shown that the area in general has had inhabitants since prehistoric eras. Some locations show evidence of Greek and Roman settlements and various tombs date back to the Roman periods.

During the Middle Ages, Tivat was divided in land area among aristocrats from Dobrota, Cattaro and Prcanj. Castles and estates dotted the lands and the Church of St. Anton stood as well. The Church itself was built in 1373. Property belonging to the Buca family houses the galleries and museums of Tivat today.

Tivat was historically under rule of the Republic of Venice and from 1420 until 1797 was part of Albania Veneta. During those times the town offered economic development and attracted Serbs from neighboring areas held under Ottoman rule. There are a variety of Venetian buildings still standing in many town areas today.

During the second part of the 19th century, Tivat saw maritime arsenals being built by the Austrian Empire. During the early months of 1918, Tivat Bay sailors began a revolution against the Austrian Empire and people from neighboring areas followed in the revolution. Between World Wars I and II, syndicate activity marked the area and Tivat was part of the Italian Government of Dalmatia from 1941 until 1943.

The geographic location along with natural sights and tropical climate make Tivat a very popular tourist destination. There are fewer than 15,000 total inhabitants in the town and it is located just 10 miles or so from Kotor. The area is comprised of three different regions. There are hills and peaks along with a coastal area and various islands. Krtoli offers the Island of Flowers, Lady of Mercy and St Marco islands. Already very thriving with tourism, the region is expected to become the nautical tourism center for the southern Adriatic region.

Although the youngest of towns in the Boka region, the city of Tivat does offer many interesting attractions. The Renaissance Summer House of Buca lies in the center of the city. Flowers Island offers a number of ancient monuments and the beaches surrounding the area are considered to be some of the most beautiful in the world. Cultural events are held in Tivat annually and thousands of visitors flock to the area for the Summer Fest and Bocce Olympiad. Botanic gardens are also major tourist attractions. The gardens were planted with exotic trees and ornamental plants from the voyages of Bokan sailors.

The Adriatic Highway connects Tivat with the remaining regions of Montenegro. visitors can reach the inland areas by detouring from the Highway at Sutomore or at Budva. Ferries operate to the islands and the Tivat Airport is located less than 2 miles from the town’s center. Tivat Airport is the largest in Montenegro and offers flights to and from Belgrade on a regular basis.

Budva

budvaBudva is located on the coast in Montenegro. The coastal area of Budva is called the Budvanska Rivijera and is the very center of tourism for the region. It is a popular vacation destination due to its beaches, Mediterranean architecture and nightlife. The town is more than 3,500 years old. There are fewer than 20,000 total inhabitants, making it a quaint and small region with much to offer visitors.

Evidence shows that Budva has been inhabited since the 5th century BC. Legends claim that Cadmus the Phoenician founded the area. Cadmus was a hero who was exiled from Thebes in Greece and sought shelter in the region. After the Roman Empire was conquered, the defensive barrier separating Rome from Greece happened upon Budva. During the Middle Ages, the region was reigned by Doclean kings followed by Serbian and then Zetan aristocrats.

Venice ruled Budva for almost 400 years, until 1797. Budva was during that time a part of the Venetian Republic of the Bay of Kotor and walls were built to protect the city from conquest by the Ottoman Empire. Most of the population at that time spoke Venetian.

During the following decades, Budva fell under Austrian, French and Russian rule. A union in 1813 joined Budva with Montenegro but this lasted only one year. from 1814 until early in 1918, Budva was part of the Austrian Empire. After the Second World War however, the Serbian army took over and Budva became part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. It was not until 1944 that it was annexed from Yugoslavia by the Kingdom of Italy. Finally, after WWII, Budva was liberated from Italian rule and after another brief ruling by Yugoslavia, became part of Montenegro, independently ruled.

Earthquakes wreaked havoc on Budva in 1979. On April 15, 1979, the old town was all but completely destroyed. Today however, most of the town has been rebuilt and little evidence of the disaster remains. Budva today is the center of the Budva municipality which encompasses the nearby towns of Petrovac and Bečići.

Most of the ancient architecture in Budva has strong Venetian influence. There are three main churches located in the older section of Budva. St. Ivan’s Church dates back to the 7th century. St. Mary’s of Punta was built around the mid 800’s and The Holy Trinity has been standing since 1804. The Venetian walls of Budva are popular tourist attractions to this day.

Budva is a hub for tourism in Montenegro. There are more than 500,000 visitors during the summer months every year which makes it the most popular destination in all of Montenegro. Outside of the old town, there are few sights to see. Inside the town however, architecture is plentiful and the beaches, mountains and sights surrounding the town are what draws in visitors from all over the world every year. The Tivat Airport is located just 12 miles from Budva and offers flights to Zurich and Belgrade. Podgorica Airport is located 40 miles away and provides flights to various European destinations. The Adriatic Highway connects the town to other coastal regions of Montenegro.

Perast

perastPerast is a quaint town located about 15 km from the city of Kotor. An old sailor’s town, Perast is the only coastal town in all of Montenegro that was never conquered by the Turks. The town has a small population and is peaceful, offering a host of historical sights and middle aged ruins. There is nothing modern in this small town. Everything that you see is historical from the churches to the narrow streets and the high stairs that reach up the mountainside.

If you are planning a visit to Perast you will certainly not be at a loss for things to do. Aside from the various sights of the town, there are activities to keep anyone busy. While there are no beaches in the town, there are beaches outlying that you can easily reach from the center of the small city. Various shops and markets are available for shopping and there are many quaint cafes and restaurants as well.

Perast is considered to be one of the most beautiful areas of Boka Kotorska. It is known as the quietest little town in the region and offers beautiful architecture and historical charm. There are a total of 16 palaces in the town that have been preserved. The baroque palace of Bujovic at the entrance of the town is a must see for anyone visiting. Others that have been preserved include Mazarovic, Viskovic, Bronza and several others.

The palaces represent the 12 Perast clans or brotherhoods. There are fewer than 500 citizens in the town which makes it a very peaceful tourist destination. Walking through the area gives you an instant impression of the baroque and renaissance periods. During the winter months, the town offers more sunlight and warm days than other tourist destinations along the Azure Coast.

From July through August, there are festivals held in Perast. The traditional Fasinada is a ritual procession of boats and barges that takes stones to place on the Island Gospa od Skrpjela. In August, the Meeting of Music Clappers is held in the town where singers compete. There are no beaches in the town but there are splendid views of the bay and various other activities to keep tourists interested. Some of the most beautiful beaches in the region are just a few minutes away. Budva is within 30 minutes of Perast and offers splendid beaches and all of the water activities you would expect in the Mediterranean.

The old town of Kotor is just about 15 km away and offers a number of daytime and nighttime activities. Those who prefer the nightlife will find many party places in Kotor including a variety of outdoor cafes and various bars. Those looking for a peaceful retreat are sure to enjoy the atmosphere in Perast. If you are looking for a holiday destination where you can leave the world behind, this is an excellent choice. From the old buildings to the old streets, this is a quaint town that seems to be lost in the past.