Mount Lovćen is the utmost symbol of its defiance to its enemies and of its permanence. If one bears in mind that its wooded slopes served as the last retreat for Montenegrins in times of war while its high stone peaks where the first glimpse of the country a visitor would see coming from the sea, the mountain’s symbolic value is clearly understood. Furthermore, Lovćen is in all probability the “Black Mountain” that gave Montenegro its name. The highest peak is Štirovnik (1749 m) topped by a TV transmitter, but it is its second highest Jezerski vrh (1657 m) that holds more importance as the last resting place of the country’s national hero-Njegoš.
The area around the principal peaks constitutes the Lovćen National Park. The whole of its karst scenery is dotted with fissures and pits giving it a distinct look. Due to the height difference on its steeply ascending sides there are several zones of different plant habitation here. One more reason for the variety of plant life on Lovćen is the influence of both of Mediterranean and the sub-continental climate. Around 60% of it is covered in forest with birch dominating, while on the north face of the mountain grows the Bosnian pine (Pinus heldreichii). In contrast to the plant life there are very few animal species here, mainly due to the mountain’s lack of streams and lakes; of mammals one encounters rabbit and fox and with regards to birds mostly partridge, quail and wild pigeon, also there is a number of reptiles and snakes living here.
The most usual way to reach the national park is by a long, winding road from Cetinje on which, you will be charged 3 euro for the entrance to the perimeter of the park. The hub of tourist activity is Ivanova Korita (14 km from Cetinje) a wavy upland known for its exceptionally clean air and water, the letter is mentioned in one of the most popular folk songs of Montenegro. A small hostel for schoolchildren, a mountain hut, restaurants and the visitors’ center are located here. By the visitors’ center is group of busts representing all the rulers of Montenegro from the Petrović-Njegoš dynasty . Nearby is also large threshing floor and the humble chapel erected by King Nikola.
By the far the most important monument of the national park is the Njegoš Mausoleum atop the Jezerski vh (21 km from Cetinje, open from May to mid November from 9 to 18h). Already during his life, Njegoš decided upon the idea of being buried here, at the top of the magnificent mountain the watched many times from Cetinje and where he often came to contemplate the work and his life. He built here a small round church in 1844 and pleaded with the Montenegrins to disregard tradition and take his body here after his death. His wish come true only in 1855 due to the high snows in the winter of his death and the war with the Turks the following spring. The church remained undisturbed by all but rare pilgrims visiting his grave until WWI when was damaged in the fighting. The occupation Austro-Hungarian forces decided to destroy this symbol of Montenegro and build here a giant statue in remembrance of their victory by they failed to carry out his plain. In 1925 King Aleksandar of Yugoslavia rebuilt the church with some minor additions. However, in the late 1950s a new initiative appeared to the tear down the “Aleksandar’s Chapel” and build a mausoleum worthy of Negoš’s importance. The controversial plan met with fierce opposition and started to heated discussions that lasted for years. Finally, the church was pulled down and the present day mausoleum was opened in 1974.
The farthest point reachable by car is very small parking beneath the top which can be overcrowded. Next to it is small souvenir shop and a restaurant while above begin the 461 stairs leading through a tunnel to the top of the mausoleum, Croatian sculptor Ivan Meštrović found his inspiration in the style of antique shrines. Its first part is an atrium of black marble with a symbolic well in the middle.
This is where you can purchase the ticket 3 euro and browse troughs some more souvenirs. Facing the entrance of the atrium stand two giant caryatides dressed in the national costume of Montenegro. Behind them one enters the mausoleums highlight-the gold-covered room with the grandiose monument to Njegoš ( weighing 28 tons), who stand represented in a pose of reflection, with one eagle sheltering his back. Directly beneath the monument is small crypt with a Njegoš’s grave, approached from behind. On the other side of the mausoleum is a path snaking along a forbidding precipice leading to a round viewpoint. On a clear day one can see four hundreds of kilometers from here as far as the coast of Italy. All around you is the rocky landscape of Montenegro, waves upon waves of hills and crags, with a brief glimpse of Boka Kotorska.
After a short ride down from Jezerski vrh take the first road to the right leading around Štirovnik. Following the next few curves you will reach the side of the mountain facing Boka Kotorska with excellent viewpoints from where all representative photos of his magnificent bay’s perplexity have been made. The road ends at the western edge of the Njeguši village.
Montenegro Hostel Team