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 entrance to the wonderful Boka-Kotor Bay, which in one of the 25 most beautiful fiords in the world since 2008. The Municipality of Herceg Novi includes settlements of Herceg-Novi, Njivice, Žvinje, Špulje, Igalo, Sutorina, Prijevor, Mojdež, Ratiševina, Sušćepan, Trebesin, Kameno, Mokrine, Kruševice, Sitnica, Vrbanj, Ubli, Žlijebi, Podi, Meljine, Zelenika, Kuti, Sasovići, Kumbor, Đenovići, Baošići, Bijela, Jošica, Kamenari, Đurići, Bjelske Kruševice, Repaji, Rose, Zabrđe, Klinci, Radovanići, Mrkovi, Brguli and Mardari.

Herceg-Novi is located on a slope right opposite the entrance to the wonderful Boko-Kotor bay, and that is why almost all roads in the city are hairpin curves – serpentines. That is why there are a lot of stairs within the city of Herceg Novi, and it is another popular sign and feature of this town. The Herceg Novi stairs connect all levels of serpentines. When you stand on the coast it seems that houses of Herceg Novi are so far away, but actually it is just 5 or 10 minutes on foot upstairs, so many visitors just enjoy walking through the town while breathing 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.

“The Orjen Mountain massif is very unusual, full of rough beauty. On Orjen Mountain we will not find alpine-type scenery, glaciers, pointy peaks, lakes and speed streams. No, the central part of the Orjen Mountain is full of stony plateaus, broken rocks and deep holes. It is interesting that this mountain, along with grayness of carts, fulfills the green color of thick forests.” Source Park Prirode Orjen

Annals of the office of Dubrovnik Republic record that Herceg Novi was founded as Ad Castrum Novum in 1382 by the Bosnian King Tvrtko I Kotromanic with the name of Sveti Stefan within the medieval State of Bosnia, when he established the town of the Dracevica area in the Topla Bay. The aim of foundation of the town of Sveti Stefan was direct way to and connection of the powerful Medieval Bosnian state with 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 very high costs. Thanks to its significant strategic position, the town of Herceg Novi was constantly and continuously during history a true battlefield between numerous invaders – the 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 as defense 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 of Herceg Novi 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 of Herceg Novi 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, making it dominating fort at the entrance to the Kotor Bay. From the Spanjola Fort spreads vast panorama of the whole area. The Spanjola fortress in Herceg Novi is walled with massive walls, with four distinguished circle bastions on the corners.

There are lovely 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 area makes the favorite picnic spot of the Herceg Novi Riviera. The Zanjice beach features wonderfully lovely beaches – weather public or wild, usually the combination of pebbles, concrete and sand. Very interesting beach is also the beach in the cove of Miriste, built in combination of concrete surfaces and sand. All those beaches are completely surrounded with lush and fragrant vegetation and olive trees, which greatly contributes to their beauty and the pleasant climate.

Today in the Herceg Novi Municipality covers 235 sq km where live 40000 inhabitants, while the town itself 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. Visitors will hear locals of Herceg Novi stressing 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 cultural events and held. The colorful festivities of Herceg Novi come alive with cultural events, sports events, carnival processions 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 of Herceg Novi 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 it is unavoidable film-workers top destination. Herceg Novi is often called the “town of artists”. Many consider Herceg Novi as the host of the „Sunčane skale” Music Festival /Sunny Stairs 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. Some also 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 Bellavista Square). The archangel is pictured in the mosaic above the entrance portal under an elegant rose window. If you take a right-side stairs of Herceg Novi you will meet „in person“ with the Forte Mare Fortification, 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 of Novi 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 in Herceg Novi 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 Kanli Kula 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 in Herceg Novi 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 of Pet Danica 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

Of the numerous significant architectonic structures of Herceg Novi, we should highlight the Church of Saint Sergius and Bacchus from the 15th century in the Podi village above the town from where spreads magic view ove the entrance to the Boka Kotor Bay. This harmonic church was built on the foundations of the church dating fom the 8th century, in Byzantine style with Gothic elements. It is interesting that historian Pantelija S. Srećković published in 1869 in the “Gazette of the Serbian Scholars Society”, Book XXVI, page 65, short record about the Church of Saint Sergius and Bacchus where he stated the work of V. Markušev, published in April 1867 in the “Journal of the Ministry of National Education”, page 157 with following citation – “…. about this Old-Serbian holy place nobody knows anything”, although it was “created by King Premislav in 760”, and “here are buried Princes of Zahumlie Draginja and Mihail”. Nikola Milovančev

Radmila Ćapin:  “Foundations of the Lazarica Church on the Vidov vrh – Vid’s peak above Herceg Novi. On tradition of the cult place testifies the erection of the church dedicated to Prince Lazar in the 15th century, that was reconstructed in the 19h and the 21st century. Vid was the supreme God whose shrine is not in the cave, the God which creates and gives birth – the source beneath the Tvoradja peak, the one who knows everything and perceives everything, like a doctor who heals wounds and saves, the creator and savior who unites the cult of Earth, the cult of Sun, the cult of Dead, the cult of Ancestors and the cult of Heroes – semi Gods. The archaeological excavations carried out in 2009, results published in scientific magazine.”  https://www.rastko.rs/cms/files/books/57b8365f6b708.pdf https://www.academia.edu/22510411

” The Austrian defensive fortification on the Prevlaka, along with the one on the Island of LastavicaVelika Žanjica is located on the strategic position from where the entrance to the Boka Kotorska is controlled. The fortification has been built in the 50-ies of the 19th century by the famous constructor of maritime fortifications /Vis, Hvar/ and regent of Kingdom of Dalmatia, baron Lazar von Mamula /1795-1878/ who was artillery general and field marshal lieutenant, a Serb from Gorski Kotar, born in the vicinity of the Gomirje Monastery. The Lastavica Island was later named Mamula island after the baron Mamula. He was decorated with numerous medals, among numerous medals he was presented with the Medal of Saint Anne by the Russian tsar Nikolay I. In 1855 baron Mamula was the best man on the wedding of the Montenegrin Prince Danilo and Darinka Kvekic from Trieste whose father Marko – the maritime captain was between 1840 and 1855 five times proposed for the President of the Serbian Orthodox Community in Trieste. Also in 1867 baron Lazar von Mamula erected as khtetor the Orthodox church of Saint George in Ogulin. The most prominent among his descendants is the Fleet Admiral Branko Mamula, the Commissioner of the General Staff and Minister of Defense of Yugoslavia and the only awarded with the highest Navy medal in the history of the Yugoslav National Army”.Istorija srpskog pomorstva

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 Austrian-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 for its architecture is often regarded 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. Remains of the British H-3 submarine which was in July 1916 submerged deep underwater in the Adriatic waters under control of the Austro-Hungarian military naval base in Boka Kotorska – the most important operative base of the Austro-Hungarian fleet in the south of the Adriatic, lie down in the sandy-muddy sea bottom at the depth of 73 to 75 meters, some mile in direction south-southeast of the Mamula – Lastavica Island, at the entrance to Boka Kotorska Bay. This wreck of destroyed submarine remained as the outcome of the attack in the thick defansive mine field set on check-out line of the Bay for defence of the Boka Bay from attacks of the Entente units from the sea and belongs to the underwater cultural heritage with the status of the British military grave. During the First and the Second World Wars this used to be the notorious concentration camp – dungeon Kampo Mamula of the fascist Italy where more than 2000 people were detained. On the marble plaque at the entrance to the Mamula fortress the inscriptions testify on the freedom-loving spirit and victory feelings of all who were prisoners here. Today the Mamula is the deserted and underpopulated island /yet as they plan construction of various luxury tourist and catering facilities/, under the official name of Lastavica /Rondini/ and also strongly recommended destination for a boat excursion from Herceg Novi or surrounding places. Today the former Mamula concentration camp has been turned into the luxury tourist resort with marina, spa and various amenities for enjoyment of visitors!

The fortification – tower of Arza is located east of the Mamula island/fort, on the very edge of the southwest part of the Luštica semi-island, set on the foundations of the antique stronghold of which only fragments of large amphora and vessels remained. The entrance from the sea 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…..

The Igalo hotel has been built in 1928 and for the time it was extraordinary modern, with the tennis terrain and amenities. The Igalo Hotel was built in his birthplace, next to the family house by Spiro Jankovic /1876-1934/ the shipowner from Trieste, donor of the Church of Saint Spiridon in Trieste and long-time President of the Serbian Orthodox Municipality in Trieste who also was President of the Serbian Community and founder of the Serbian School in Trieste. In Igalo “Spiro immediately hired experts to inspect black mud of the Sutorina River as well as the water spring beneath the Slatina hill and its application in healing people”. This was the beginning of the health tourism in Boka area and later in Montenegro. After the Second World War, the Jankovica Hotel, as it was locally known and used by this name was taken and later confiscated….

More on the adventurous life of Špira Janković you can find in the book of Nebojša Raša “Znameniti Bokelji – sinovi srpskog Bosfora ΙΙ” (Prominent Boka people – sons of the Serbian Bosphorus II, Herceg Novi, 2008). Here we only mention that Jankovic settled in Igaro from Pastrovici area in the 17th century, that they have celebrated Saint Eliah and that “the Jankovics gave nice number of captains”. Špiro Janković completed the Serbian Maritime School in Herceg Novi, and latedthe Economic Faculty in Trieste. He was co-owner of the “Navigazione Libera Triestina” Company, later “Oceania”. Ships of those companies sailed among other lines, from the Italian harbors to America (for example the line to New York). Spiro helped many seafarers to find job. His son Milos became the mayor of Herceg Novi in the forties, the second son lived in Novi Sad, and the third son was killed in bombardment of Belgrade in 1941.  Spiro was one of the founders of the Boka Shipping Join-Stock Company with ships of “Bistrica”, “Sitnica” and “Morava”. He helped the Church of Holy Transfiguration in Igalo. He was awarded for his work with the Medal of Saint Sava of the third range. He was buried in the family graveyard in Topla, together with generations of his ancestors, of Jankovic maritime captains….