As Seen in…
Places to visit in Montenegro and on our Balkan tours
Why visit Montenegro?
If one thing defines Montenegro, it is its resilience in carving out a national identity in the face of thousands of years of invasion and outside influence: The Illyrian tribes under the leadership of the terrifying Queen Teuta so harried the Greek coastal settlers of the 3rd century B.C. that they begged for Roman help, and so the blueprint for Montenegrin independence was formed.
Leaving much evidence of its influence near the coast, the Roman Empire split in 395 A.D. and yet the Illyrian culture absorbed and thrived as Serbs and Croats arrived, bringing the Orthodox and Catholic faiths to the nation. Indeed, to the modern traveller, this sense of sitting on the cusp of eastern and western cultural worlds still is highly apparent in its people, its food and its language.
Montenegro, uniquely, writes its own language in both eastern Cyrillic and western Latin characters, whilst the Balkan smoked hams, borths and lamb and cream stews sit alongside more exotic dishes like honey-priganice and spiced pomegranate soups. The medieval civilisation flourished and expanded its borders well beyond modern Montenegro’s borders and when the Ottomans came, the country bucked the trend by heavily and successfully resisting the invaders by setting up an undefeatable kingdom-state around the ‘Black Mountain’ region.
Their most successful ruler, Peter II, has his impressive mausoleum of the slopes of Mount Lovcen, amidst the craggy terrain that predominates. Ultimately, the Ottomans and indeed the coastal Venetian incursions were forced to allow the local rulers to continue unchallenged. By the 19th century, international allies referred to Montenegro as the ‘race of heroes’ and the country’s armies expanded their territory and drove out the Ottomans.
In more modern times alliances and unification with Serbia proved only temporary in dampening the national identity. As 20th century architecture indicates, the republic, as a sub-division of Yugoslavia embraced communism under Tito and reputedly has more party members per capita than any other nation in Europe.
Since its independence in 2006, today’s Montenegro has become a vibrant country with a strong focus on tourism: whilst sites such as the porcelain-white façade of Ostrog monastery which clings tenaciously to the cliff face speak of the inherent popular determination, its viaduct of entrances leads visitors into a labyrinth of ornate and intricately decorated caves and chapels, emblematic of the unique and remarkable cultural heart of this radiant land.