Montenegro Cities PDF Print E-mail
What makes Montenegrin cities interesting, together with what is left of the ancient cities, are some buildings and the style of their townplanning. The most southerly city is Ulcinj, on the coast, today a tourist centre. The land there is gentle, so is the climate and the 20km long beaches consist of very special sand: in the old part, as in an ancient museum, we find remains of Roman architecture, Byzantine adaptations, the Franciscan church built under the Anjous, the tower and the tomb of the Lord of Zeta, Djurdje BalSic, the Venetian fortress and very rich oriental architecture created during four centuries of Turkish domination.
The ruins of the ancient Bar, also called the Pompeii of Montenegro although there is no volcano, are situated 5km from the sea, along the slopes of Mount Rumija; they also conserve traces of the ancient strength of an artisan and trading city and a centre of Byzantine culture and the seat of the Catholic Bishop. Along the walls, the Turks had built the Kasbah, a typical example of Islamic architecture. Nowadays Bar has returned to the sea again and has become the greatest port of Montenegro, a centre of trade with the Southern Adriatic. The Turks have left many traces of their domination in the cities of the interior: but if you omit Pljevlja and up to a point Bijelo Polje, Plav and Ro2aj, you will note that the Islamic culture has left no deep traces apart from some architectural monuments.
The largest city is Titograd, which contains one eighth of the population of Montenegro. The geographic position, the crossroad between the coast and districts of the north, encouraged the growth of an important caravan centre, Birziminium, along the banks of the River Ribnica. After the destruction of that city near Duklja, Slav groups, probably around the 10th century, built the city of Ribnica, exactly where Birziminium had been. Thanks to their prosperity, to the strength of the Roman tradition and the good maintenance of the straight Roman roads, the city (called also Podgorica from the hill above it) became in the Middle Ages an important cultural and religious centre. During the Turkish domination (1474-1879) Podgorica became a fortress and a base for the fight against the Montenegrin tribes. You recognise these ruins if you look at the townplanning and architectural shapes of those times. Of special interest are the bridges, the mosques, the "mahale" (the Turkish quarters), the small streets and courtyards. The city developed rapidly after its liberation from the Turks: on the right bank of the River Ribnica new houses appeared in which the oriental style was abandoned, ground level houses and wide streets were built. With the growth of artisans and of trade and the continual increase of the population, Podgorica soon became an important cultural and commercial centre in Montenegro. After the war in 1946, it was rechristened Titograd and rose up from its ruins. After 62 bombardments in the Second World War there was very little left standing. But some monuments were lucky and escaped destruction: the monuments of mediaeval architecture such as the Church of St. George of the 1 lth century, the doors of Visir, some parts of the old Turkish city with the tower Sahat kula, as well as other examples of Islamic architecture.Titograd today is a modern city of 85,000 inhabitants. It has a university, it is the industrial, economic, scientific and cultural centre of Montenegro, and symbol of its present development.The district of Pljevlja was also inhabited by the Illyrians who had maintained their identity within the Roman colony. Municipium of the 2nd century was built along the road of the Roman legions and was a centre of mining activities. We find here the "stecci of the Bogomils" (funeral steles of this religious sect which spread in the 9th and 10th centuries), temples and Christian monasteries. The most monumental Islamic religious and lay architecture rose here, with many public buildings concerned with trade and commerce.
NikSic has a similar history. Situated along a Roman artery, it was probably the seat of a municipium, a Gothic fortress.
Then it came under Turkish domination. To break local resistance, the Turks built a fortress, at the beginning of the 18th century, as a threat to Montenegro: at its foot the city rose. The Islamic way of life has left no trace in NikSic, where no remains may be seen of the Turkish city, because citizens and artisans have built new buildings on the foundations of the old Turkish palaces.
Another city on the coast, Herceg Novi, has experienced very strong oriental influences. It was built by King Tvrtko, at the end of the 14th century, to defend the outlet to the sea of the then powerful Bosnia. After falling under Turkish domination, the city became an important strategic point. A Spanish tower recalls the period of brief Spanish domination and a fortress on the sea and the walls of the city recall the Venetian domination. There are no visible signs of Turkish influence.
Montenegro has two very original cities, Cetinje and Kotor. Cetinje, once the refuge of the exiled Bogomils and of the "katun" of the Crnojevici,became the capital of Montenegro at the end of the 15 th century and remained such until 1946. During the wars of liberation against the Turks it could not expand; it remained practically unchanged around the fortified monastery. The city developed in harmony with the consolidation of the new State of Montenegro: it reached considerable prosperity after the Congress of Berlin. Its administrative, diplomatic, cultural and mililtary functions compelled it to adopt modern rational townplanning, with aqueducts, central power stations, gardens and squares. Thus a, city was born following the European model. Today it is linked by motorways to Kotor and Titograd.

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