Cetinje – Old Capital Of Montenegro

Cetinje /Cetinye/ is the historical royal capital and the secondary capital of Montenegro. The former Montenegrin capital of Cetinje makes the house of the Kingdom of Montenegro, and the historical center of the state and the core of the Montenegrin existence. As of 2003 Cetinja had a population of 18,1000. The city of Cetinje nestles on a small karst Cetinje field, at the elevation of 650 meters, in the foot of the Orlov Krs Mountain. The city of Cetinje is surrounded with gigantic limestone Montenegrin mountains including the Lovcen Mountain, the Black Mountain after which Montenegro gets its name.

The Cetinjsko polje – the Cetinje Field and the city of Cetinje was the former spiritual and administrative center of the Serb state of Crna Gora – Montenegro, named afted the river of Cetina or Cetinja which used to flow through the center of the Cetinje Field. The Cetina River changed its course after one of the strong earthquakes that stroke this area at that time. The city of Cetinje was established in the 15th century and features immense cultural and historical heritage. The present position of Cetinje was determined by decision of the lord Ivan Crnojevic /1465-1490/ of the medieval state of Zeta on transition of the seat of the Zeta Metropolitanate from the Scadar – Shkoder Krajina into the newly established Cetinje Monastery in the Cetinje Field which was dedicated to the Birth of the most Holy Virgin. Upon arrival to Cetinje in 1482, the lord Ivan Crnojević erected his court at the Cetinje Field, but the court was destroyed under unknown circumstances and today on its existence testifies an engravings of the Cetinje Octoechos of the Fifth Tone from 1494.

Tradition on establishment of Cetinje on the place of inhabited Podlovcenski dolac has it that here settled the duke Ivan Borojev from Stari Vlah – Zlatibor with his family after numerous fights with the Turks, some fourty years before arrival of the lord Ivan Crnojevic. Ivan Borojev constantly advised his sons to quickly construct the tiny church in some convenient location and to dedicate it to the Birth of the Holy Virgin which was the date of their arrival to and settlement in the Podlovcenski Dolac. Ivan Borojev also made his sons take oath for looking after Dolac area, and to cultivate land well, and to listen to each other and to care about themselves, to receive well prosecuted brothers Serbs, not to humiliate poor, and to be guardians of the national customs, freedom, religion and laws, and to be obedient to the Zeta lords. Ivan Borojev lived long, and his sons performed his testament when they buried parents in front of the church that was named the Vlaska crkva church – the Wallachian church that remained until the present. The four sons of the Zlatibor settlers of the lord Ivan Borojev made offspring with family names of Ivaniševići, Ivanovići, Vušurovići, Dragoslavići, Dapčevići, Boškovići and Marinovići. Today in Zlatibor and the Uzice area live descendants of the Borojevic family who celebrate the Djurdjevdan slava – Saint George family patron Day and preslava – the second celebration of the family patron day comes on the day of the Birth of the Holy Virgin by the ancestors testament.

After years of scientific research the famous Serbian ethnographer dr Jovan Erdeljanović in his study ‘Stara Crna Gora’, Beograd, 1926., confirms reliability of proofs that sons of Ivan Borojev constructed the Vlaska crkva – the Wallachian church in the Cetinje Field. Original small church has been several times reconstructed and got its present appearance in the middle of the 19th century, on which testifies the inscription above the entrance church door.

Cetinje is a town of immense historical heritage, founded in the 15th century. Among numerous sites, structures, museums and libraries of Cetinje, some distinguish themselves as the Cetinje Monastery – the Montenegrin cultural center and religious seat for centuries. The original Cetinje Monastery had been built in 1484 by Ivan Crnojević ruler of Zeta /ruled 1465-1490/. The shrine was demolished in 1692 in the first fierce attack on Cetinje by Suleyman pasha Bushatlija. The Cetinje Monastery keeps the rich treasury of the holy relics, liturgical items and cultural inheritance of Montenegro, the Biljarda – prominent structure built in 1838 by ruler, poet and philosopher Petar Petrovic Njegos for his residence. Cetinje became the center of the Serbian Medieval life as the center of the Zeta Principality and both a cradle of Serbian-Montenegrin and the East Orthodox religious center. In the original church of the Birth of the Holy Virgin of the original-fist Cetinje Monastery there are graves of King Nikola and Queen Milena Petrovic Njegos. The Cetinje Monastery is shrine of harmonious architectural compound which makes the symbol of the Montenegrin Spirituality, Freedom-loving and Enlightenment.

It is because of its heritage as a long-term Montenegrin capital that it is today the honorary capital of Montenegro. The fist Serb Printing House was established in Cetinje which printed the first book in the Serbian language – the Cetinje Octoechos – the Orthodox liturgical book of Djuradj Crnojevic, one of the most frequently used liturgical books of the Serbian Orthodox Church. The Cetinje Octoechos was completed on 4 January 1494 in dimensions 254 x 186 mm, containing 269 leaves and 538 pages. The Cetinje Octoechos was printed on high quality two-colored paper – black and red and decorated with head-peaces and initials with the flag containing the coat of arm of the Crnojevic Family. Printing and decoration of the Cetinje Octoechos was performed by seven monks, under supervision of Arch priest Makarios. This Cetinje Printing office is known as the Crnojevic Printing House, as the first Serbian Printing House and the first ever state printing house. The Cetinje Ochoechos was printed in a sense of old manuscript tradition, in relatively large number copies, of which remained some 105 copies until the present. Đurađ Crnojević was highly literate and educated ruler, book lover, with awareness that a book has eternal sense and importance. As successor and descendant of his glory ancestors, Crnojevic gifted the Ochoechos to his people knowing that the Orthodox church uses the Oktoih – the Ochoechos in ordinary weekly cycles of church services throughout the ecclesiastic year. Printing of the Cetinje Ochoechos is cultural and historical and patriotic act, with the aim to substitute books from destroyed and deserted churches and monastery of the Serbian Orthodox Church after invasion of the Turks.

On the 12th km of the road from Cetinje to Lovćen Mountain there is the famous excursion spot and tourist center of Ivanova korita, whose name is connected with the founder of Cetinje – Ivan Crnojević, known in history as Ivan – beg /bey/. Ivanova korita tourist spot is located within the Lovćen National Park and makes one of its most beautiful parts, situated on the eastern side of the Jezerski vrh peak, on the plateau encircled with forests and meadows. The altitude, mixture of Mediterranean and continental climate, as well as the ecological environment, provide natural habitat of various medicinal herbs. The Ivanova korita tourist spot is frequented in recent years with biologists and herbs lovers who pick up medicinal herbs – mint, St John, wormwood, primrose and others.

The founding of Cetinje was conditioned by the historical, political, and economic background in the 15th century. Wars of conquest led by the Turks forced Ivan Crnojevic, the ruler of the Medieval Zeta at that time, to move the capital of his country from the fortified town of Zabljak to the inaccessible parts, to Obod in 1475, and soon after it at the foot of Lovcen Mountain. In the field of Cetinje in 1482 his Court was built and two years later the monastery was built as well. By building the Court and the Monastery a new capital was founded. Its name was Cetinje. It was named after the beautifully meandering Cetina River that runs through it. The present Cetinje Monastery has been built in 1701. Turks destroyed it several times during its history, but local people always reconstructed it. The new Cetinje Monastery became the domicile of the Zeta metropolitan. So, Cetinje turned out to be not only the center of secular life but also the spiritual center where Djurdaj Crnojevic, the son to Ivan Crnojević, founded the first printing house in the Slavic South. Rapid progress of Cetinje under the rule of the Crnojević Dynasty was interrupted at the very end of the 15th century. Actually, State of Zeta lost its independence in 1499 so the only free part of the country, which was called Montenegro since then, was reduced to a mountainous territory between Crnojević River and The Bay of Kotor. In the next two centuries Cetinje stagnated in its development. It was very often under the attack of Venice and the Turks. So, in the 16th and 17th century Cetinje was exposed to tough temptations. In this period the Cetinje court and the monastery of the Crnojevići dynasty were destroyed. Until the 16th century the state of Montenegro did not exist under this name, nor was the present katun nahija settled, except Cetinje and some places, but throughout the history it was part of the ancient Serbian states of Prevala – Doclea or Zeta. Prevala was renamed Doclea after the Roman Emperor Diocletian in the 3rd century. There is also an opinion that this area was named after the Zeta river, which flows through the present Bjelopavlici are or Prevala, as the earliest geographical name of this province that history records.

It was only by the end of the 17th century, in 1697, that Cetinje began to flourish again under the rule of the Petrovic Dunasty and Danilo Petrovic as its founder. Leading the liberation wars and strengthening the unity in the country preoccupied Danilo and his successors. They didn’t have enough time to dedicate to the building of Cetinje. It was only during the rule of Petar II Petrovic Njegos that the remarkable progress has been made. In 1838 his Njegos royal residence called Biljarda (Billiard house) was built. Cetinje was enlarged by building new houses that gradually led to urbanization. Petar I introduced new crops to Montenegro and began a process of legal modernization, which was to last throughout the 19th century.

Montenegrin independence was recognized by the decision of the Berlin Congress in 1878 and so Cetinje became the capital of a European country. Many modern buildings designed for foreign consulates were built due to the newly established relations with various European countries. The buildings of the French, Russian, British, Italian and Austrian-Hungarian consulates are regarded as the most beautiful of these. Cetinje made great progress under the rule of Prince Nikola I Petrovic when numerous public edifices were built. Those include the first hotel, called ‘Lokanda’, then the new Prince’s palace, the Girls’ Institute and the hospital. This period also saw the first tenancy houses. In the 1860 report Cetinja had 34 households. Montenegro was proclaimed a Kingdom in 1910 which had a great effect on its development. At this time the Government House, the symbol of the state power was built. The population census from the same year recorded a massive growth in the world’s smallest capital, registering 5,895 inhabitants. Between 1878 and 1914 Cetinje flourished in every sense. Many renowned intellectuals from other South-Slavic parts came to stay there and made a contribution to the cultural, educational and every other aspect of life. At the time between the two  World Wars,  Cetinje expanded its territory, as it was now a center of the Zeta region. But when it was decided by the Parliament of Montenegro that the administrative organs should be located in Titograd /previously and presently Podgorica/ Cetinje went through a harsh crisis. By building certain industrial sections and at the same time neglecting the development of the city’s traditional and potential cultural and tourist capacities, the chance to create a strong basis for more solid prosperity was lost.

The Cetinje Monastery also known as the New Cetinje Monastery is the most famous Serb Orthodox Monastery in Montenegro. It is the seat of the Metropolitanate of Montenegro and the Littoral and its name derives from Saint Peter of Cetinje. As center of historical and cultural importance, it was founded between 1701 and 1704 by Prince-Bishop Danilo I Petrovic on the site of the former court of  Ivan the Black. In the New Cetinje Monastery there are several relics:  remains of Saint Peter of Cetinje, Right hand of Saint John the Baptist, Remains of Petar II Petrovic – Njegos were moved here and the Crown of Stefan Uros IV Decanski /founder of the Visoki Decani Monastery/, the Medieval Emperor of Serbia, the oktoih printed in 1493 at the Crnojevic printing house in Obod – the Orthodox liturgical book of eight tones used weekly during the church services throughout the ecclesiastical year. The National Museum of Montenegro which is complex museum institution of Montenegro, nowadays exhibits several significant units in Cetinje : The Historical Museum of Montenegro, Ethnographic Museum of Montenegro, Court of King Nikola Petrovic and Njegos Museum.

Only ten kilometers away from the old royal capital is the village of Njeguši, famous as the birthplace of the Petrovic Dynasty and many Montenegrin rulers. The Njeguši village is located beneath Mount Lovćen, known for among other things, its numerous delicacies: prosciutto, cheese, kastradina (smoked sheep meat) and sausages. Prosciutto is made from pork and the special flavor is obtained thanks to the mixture of the sea and mountain air and the woods used for drying. Visitors enjoy in tasting of those traditional products, that make Montenegro recognizable far and wide.

Narrow and winding road leads from Cetinje to Kotor and makes unique construction achievement and one of the extraordinary tourist attractions of Montenegro. The village of Špiljare is situated between the Kotor walls and the Saint John fortress. The old walking serpentine road features harsh ambiance, vicinity of the Kotor walls, the church from the 15th century and remains of the traditional architecture. Špiljari village is set at elevation of 636 meters and one can reach it along the old road built by the Austrian Monarchy in order to connect the hinterland of Montenegro with Kotor, then a part of the Austria-Hungary Monarchy. In ancient times until the late 19th century this mule track road was the only connection of Cetinje and littoral and to the outside world as supply line for essential provisions. Mule caravans loaded with various goods used this road that connected Montenegro with the Tabacina market in Kotor. Montenegrins were bringing woods, skin, suet-animal fat, cheese, smoked ham and smoked sheep meat from the Njegusi village and other hinterland villages to Kotor market for trade.

It was in 1877 when Josip Šilović Slade from Trogir responded to the order of Prince Nikola to help with his knowledge and expertise in development of the road infrastructure of Montenegro, and building of other structures. So the next year, 1878, Slade had designed and built the road from the Austrian border above Kotor to Cetinje, via Njeguši village. The especially dangerous 38 km road Cetinje Kotor is one of the most famous in the world. The second section of the road to Kotor, with the famous 25 serpentine was completed in 1884. The most famous section of the serpentine road from Cetinje to Kotor is called the Kotor Serpentine – a 8.3km long stretch, pretty steep, with 16 hairpin turns. Along this section, the road starts at an elevation of 458 meters above the sea level, and ends at 881 meters. With inward leaning concrete barriers on one side and jagged rock on the other, multiple vehicles may have to reverse their way back up the road when meeting a bus or construction vehicle coming the other way. Over this distance, the elevation difference of the serpentine road is 423 meters. Scenery is breathtaking and view to Boka Kotorska Bay from up here is unreal and make visitors speechless. All Boka Bay in its blue sea and Kotor town tucked sleep in breasts of high Montenegrin cliffs.

The only cave in Montenegro arranged for visitors is the Lipska Cave, located in the village of Lipa Dobrska, 5 km away from Cetinje,  33 km of Budva, and 35 km of Podgorica. The Lipska Pecina Cave features wonderful and wild appearance along its 2,5 km walking route, rich in cave halls and galleries of the underground world. The beauty of the Lipska Pecina Cave was known from time immemorial, and it attracted number of historical personalities of Montenegro, among them Petar II Petrović Njegoš and King Nikola I. At present, the Lipska Cave provides memorable experiences for families, real researches and “treasure hunters”.



Enchanting Balkan Tour

Golden Byzantine Tour

Serbia and Montenegro Tour

Balkan Tour Serbia – Montenegro – Bosnia and Herzegovina

EX YU + Albania Tour