Herceg Novi

Herceg Novi is popular Adriatic coastal tourist center of Montenegro, proudly set between the highest Dinaric massif of the Orjen Mountain /1895 meters/ and the entracne to the Boka-Kotor Bay, which in one of the 25 most beautiful fiords in the world since 2008. Herceg-Novi is located on a slope right opposite the entrance to the Boko-Kotor bay, and that is why almost all roads in the city are serpentines. That is why there are a lot of stairs in the city of Herceg Novi, and it is another popular sign of this place. The Herceg Novi stairs connect all levels of serpantin. When you are on a coast it seems that houses are so far away but actually it is just 5 or 10 minutes on foot upstairs, and many visitors just enjoy walking cross town and breathing with the pure air. Herceg Novi is 124 km away from the Podgorica Airport, 25 km from the Tivat Airport, 84 km from the Port of Bar, 50 km from the Port of Dubrovnik, and 46 km from Budva.

Herceg Novi was founded in 1382 by the Bosnian King Tvrtko I Kotromanic. The aim of foundation of the town was direct way of the powerful Medieval Bosnian state to the Adriatic coast, and achievement of trade connections with neighboring states and salt production, which Dubrovnik Republic was selling to Bosnia in those years for high costs. Due to its significant strategic position, the town of Herceg Novi was constantly and continuously during history a true battlefield between Venetian Republic, Ottoman Empire, Spain and France. The Ottoman siege of the town of Novi started in the second half of November 1481. Ayaz-bey attacked Novi with 2.000 soldiers and conquered it at the end of January 1482, when the fortress was reconstructed and trade was developed. United forces and fleet of Spain, Venetian Republic and the Vatican occupied the town in 1538, but the next year Ottomans regained their rule over the town. During the short reign of Spanish rulers, the new fortification was built, to be completed later by the Turks, but still today bears the name of “Spanjola” for this stronghold. Then in 1538 the church of St. Veneranda – Saint Anne was built by Don Ferante Gonzaga on the place of the former church demolished by the Turks when they have expelled ancestors of Herceg Stjepan. Spanjola Fortress played significant role in defense of Herceg Novi from Napoleon army in 1806, during the battle in Igalo valley, with 4000 Russian soldiers and canons from the Spanjola fort. In two days of the fierce fight, French forces reached the core of the town and the Španjola fort, and fought against the combined Montenegrin and Russian troops, but did not succeed to conquer it. In July 1807, Russians handed over Boka Kotor Bay to the French, who took the Španjola fortress on the 10th August of the same year, and found it in very good conditions, since Russians repaired the damages. The Spanjola Fortress remained in the French hands until 1814, when Novi and the whole Kotor Bay came under the rule of Austria. In the middle of the 19th century, in 1853, the Spanjola fort lost its important strategic role, when the fortress of “Mamula” on the Lastavica island and the fortress “Arza” at the peninsula Luštica and the Ostro on the peninsula of Prevlaka were built. Still remained its importance for the protection of the Kotor Bay, due to the strategic advantages of the Bajer hill that caused location of the Spanjola in the north-western part of the town, at the elevation of 170 meters, that makes it dominates the entrance to the Kotor Bay. From Spanjola Fort spreads vast panorama of the area. The Spanjola fortress is walled with massive walls, with four distinguished circle bastions on the corners.

There are interesting and quiet tiny coastal villages of Rose, Mirište and Žanjica on the semi-island of Lushtica, founded during Roman Empire reign, which provide excellent conditions for a true relaxed vacations and enjoyment of the wonderful open sea close to the the Kotor bay mouth. Zanjice are the favorite picnic area on Herceg Novi Riviera. The beach which is situated there is public, and is made of combination pebbles, concrete and sand. Very interesting beach is also the beach in the cove of Miriste, made of combination of concrete surfaces and sand. Beaches are completely surrounded with lush vegetation and olive trees, which greatly contributes to their beauty, and the climate as well.

Today in the Herceg Novi Municipality, which covers 235 sq km, live 40000 inhabitants, while the town has population of around 15000. The Herceg Novi Riviera spreads on 25 km and encompasses several tourist places which enables the swimming season to last up to 5 months – Meljine, Bijela, Djenovici, Kumbor, Zelenika. Locals of Herceg Novi stress clearly that they are the Boka people – Bokelji, and not the Montenegrins, probably more than in any part of the Boka-Kotor Bay.

Herceg-Novi features a specific micro climate, which is a result of southern exposition, proximity to the sea, limestone substratum and mountainous hinterland which prevents the breakthrough of cold air masses. Herceg Novi is often called town of sun, where “everything lives for and due and from the sun”, thanks to 200 sunny days per year. It is also known as town of flowers, thanks to lavish and rare Tropic vegetation spread everywhere – mimosa, cactus and oleander plants, brought through centuries here from all over the world by the famous seafarers of Herceg Novi. Herceg Novi is one of the few Montenegrin cities that are also attractive in winter, as it is very rich in greenery and tropical flowers and scants. Each year the Mimosa Festival is celebrated in February, when various events and held. The colorful festivities come alive with cultural events, sports events, carnivals and masked balls. The cultural essence of this festival is further enhanced by the presence of young Herceg Novi majorettes and the lively city band. The masked parade walks through the town, cheerfully waving the first blossoms of mimosa.

Herceg Novi is at least in off-season, inspiration for numerous artists, writers and painters, and for its Film Festival, unavoidable film workers destination. Herceg Novi is often called the town of artists. Many consider Herceg Novi as the host of the „Sunčane skale” Music Festival, which is held in the beginning of July, or in connection with the Music Days event, which has been held the 31st time in this period, or some connect Herceg Novi with the Guitar art Summer Festival, which gathers international guitar masters from all over the world, every mid of August. It is easy to understand why this town was and still today makes the music center.

The unique architecture compound of the historic part of Herceg Novi feature stone facades built alternately, with two large squares, intersected with narrow streets and stairs. Joy of visitors who explore the town usually starts from the Nikola Đurković Square. When you enter the stairs of  King Tvrtko – Kralj Tvrtko, set below the famous Clock Tower built in 17th century /1667/, which once was the main entrance to the town, and count sixty stairs, you get to the Herceg Stjepan Square, better known as the Bella vista square. Your attention is surely attracted by the Church of Saint Archangel Michael, which is considered the jewel of the Boka-Kotor architecture, and the Memorial Fountain with the fresh potable water. Built between 1883 and 1905, this beautifully proportioned, domed Orthodox church sits flanked by palm trees at the centre of gleaming white Trg Herceg Stjepana (the Belavista Square). The archangel is pictured in a mosaic above the entrance portal under an elegant rose window. If you take a right-side stairs, you will meet „in person“ with the Forte Mare Fort, the most often symbol and souvenir of Herceg Novi. The fortification with the name of Forte mare is located in the southernmost part of the old town of Herceg Novi, almost enclosed to the sea shore. According to some records, this fort makes the core of the Medieval town established in 1382 by the Bosnian king Tvrtko I. Upon arrival of Venetians, at the beginning of the 17th century, the fortress was reconstructed and from that time dates the present name of this fortress. The Forte Mare stronghold has been built from the 14th till the 17th century, to be turned into the summer cinema with 500 seats after the Second WW, and later into the disco. It is interesting that the Forte Mare Fortress has been built above the very promenade, although it is clearly visible from every part of the town, and also its walls feature the gate and pass directly from the sea shore to the top of the fortification. On return along the stairs of the historical part of Herceg Novi, turning left from the Clock tower, visitors get to the second stronghold and fortified site of Herceg Novi – the Kanli kula – Kanli tower. The basis of the present day fortification is irregular rectangular, approximate in size of 70 x 60 meters, with relatively well preserved outer walls and towers on the corners. Construction of the fortification was completed mainly with rough ashlar stone, connected with lime mortar. One who does not know its name, translated from Turkish means „bloody tower“ and that it has been used in the 16th century as the notorious dungeon, would never believe that it hides such dark past. Though, the Kanli kula since its reconstruction in 1966 is turned into one of the most beautiful summer stages in the Adriatic. Walking down from the old town, one gets to the Škver point where in summer is so busy and frequented as in the bee-hive. Besides the very shore of the sea, Herceg Novi is circled with the famous promenade of Pet Danica /Five Danicas/, constructed on the remains of the railway track from Igalo to Meljine, which is proved by the tunnel through which the road goes. The name of the promenade in Herceg Novi is connected with five girls who went to the war in 1941 and never came back home. Herceg Novi locals will gladly recite the song which commemorate all of the family names of all five Danicas – Kostić, Popivoda, Bojanić, Tomašević and Urović.

At the very start of the Herceg Novi promenade of Pet Danica there is the carved inscription with verses of Aleksa Šantić : „Naša mila Boko, nevjesto Jadrana, pokrivena nebom ko od plave svile, ljepša si od tvoje primorkinje vile, i svetija si od njenog đerdana…“, while walking up you get to the Njegoševa ulica street, with the house of Ivo Andrić, today turned into the Writers Club.

Visitors of Herceg Novi are provided with interesting and pleasant experiences if they book the tourist route with minibus along the hinterland of the town and resources of the Orjen Mountain, along the line Herceg Novi – Borići – Vrbanj, which includes unique sites and vistas, tasting of authentic local produces and scent of medicinal herbs. The archaeological site of Čakotin is one of the observation points with most beautiful panorama of the Herceg Novi part of the Bay and the Lustica peninsula, which is also important as the guardian of the Roman refugium – still undiscovered archaeological site. The trip continues do the Kameno point and visit the Austro-Hungarian fort of Tajno brdo and the archaeological locality of Đevojačke grede, which features number of stone mounds from the Illyrian era. After refreshment the tour continues to the Borići point, from where visitors with good condition has large choice of hiking and trekkint routes, up to the mountain hut of Dom za Vratlom (1160m), speleo-archaeological locality of Žlijepska jama (1300m), the Austria-hungarian caraula of Grab (1383m), ambiental complex of Žlijebi with the Church of St Nicholas (708m) and to the peaks of the Orjen Mountain – Veliko Ćedilo (1446m), Subra (1679m) and Odijevo (1571m). Mountaineers go along their route, while the other visitors have option to explore the Mokrine point, churches of Lazarica and St Varvara, the Dinaric village of stone houses and the rustic complex of Kruševica, with the mill at the Vrbanj point. After a break at the Konak tourist facility, well marked hiking trails takes visitors to the observation point of Žukovica (1150m), from where spreads magic panorama of the Subra amphitheater sides – the most amazing site of the maritime Dinaride Mountains. Then follow te ambiance of the Vučji do katun (1090m), remains of the Poljice katun (1130m) and the mountain hut of Orjen sedlo (1600m), which features the unique setting within the endemic Munika forest. Visitors who are rather more fit and in good physical condition are invited to climb up to the peak of Veliki kabao (1894m), which is the highest point of the maritime Dinarides, and which can be reached in one hour of hike, along the well-marked, medium heavy hiking trail.

Kuti village makes the hinterland of Zelenika which is known for the number of religious structures dating from the Middle Ages. Once there were twelve of them. “Kuti village are set close to the sea, but yet far enough at the same time. Far enough to preserve in its hills traces of a culture that in its deepest layers features the seal of the Mediterranean”. Dr Goran Komar

Only few kilometers away from Herceg Novi, between the semi-islands of Luštica and Prevlaka, there is the notorious Mamula island on which the Austrian general Lazar Mamula built a fortification in the 19th century. The Austro-Hungarian fortifications and strongholds of Oštro ridge, Mamula island and the fort on the Arza ridge, were constructed at the entrance to the Boka Kotor Bay from 1850 – 1853, in the second phase of construction of the Maritime fortification system of Boka. The stronghold of Mamula is named after the general Mamula and is often regarded for its architecture the most beautiful fortress in the Adriatic. This fortress is known as the latest and best preserved Austro-hungarian stronghold in the Adriatic, for its monumental, outstanding preciseness in construction and perfect functionality. While the First and the Second World Wars were waged, this used to be a dungeon Kampo Mamula. At the entrance to the fortress, on the marble plaque, the inscriptions testify on the freedom-loving spirit and victory feelings of all who were prisoners here. Today this is the deserted and underpopulated island, under the official name of Lastavica /Rondini/ and also strongly recommended destination for a boat excursion from Herceg Novi or surrounding places.

The fortification – tower of Arza is located east of the Mamula island, on the very edge of the southwest part of the Luštica semi-island, and lies on the foundations of the antique stronghold, of which only fragments of large amphora and vessels remained. The entrance to the Boka Kotor Bay was practically completely closed, thanks to the strategic fortifications which made the first line of defense from the sea, situated in the triangle between the Oštro ridge on the Prevlaka peninsula (located on the western side of the entrance to the Boka Kotor Bay, and belongs to Croatia) and the Mamula fort on the island (called Lastavica) and the Arza fortification. At present those strongholds await reconstruction and new tourist valorization.