The northernmost town in Montenegro is the most important industrial and mining centre and contributes almost the entire coal produced in the country . The coal is used to supply the country’s only thermo power plant that in itself accounts for half on Montenegro’s total electrical production. Regrettably the high chimneys seen from every part of town make Pljevlja also the most polluted town in Montenegro.
The pleasant and fertile area around the confluence of river Breznica and river Ćehotina has been settled since time immemorial. During the Roman rule, in the village of Komini not far from Pljevlja, developed the most important town of continental Montenegro. No record of the town today known only as “Municipium S” can be found amongst the written sources. Its incomplete name has been discovered on the fragment found during archeological excavations that revealed its size and significance. In the middle ages the settlement called Breznica grew in the place where several caravan roads from coast merged. The name Pljevlja is fist mentioned in 1430 and comes from the world pljevlja, “chaff”. Soon after this- in 1462-it fell into Turkish hands. Retaining its trading role the place furthermore became the seat of the province of Herzegovina, eventually growing into a prosperous oriental town. Fortunes changed for Pjevlja in the 19th century, in 1818 great fire devoured almost the whole of it and in 1833 the provincial administration was moved to Mostar. The impoverished Pljevlja became in 1878 the seat of large Austro-Hungarian garrison but maintained the Turkish civil administration. The town was liberated in 1912 and became a part of Montenegro but most of the Muslims could not bear the changed and left for Turkey. This reduced the town’s population to half of its pre-war size. After WWII, Pljevlja with its ore rich hinterland became the mother behind the industrialization of socialist Montenegro and the face of the town was rapidly changed to its present day image.
There isn’t much left to witness the town’s rich history. The old quarters are oriental more in character then in monuments, while the principal streets are lined with apartment blocks of strange inspiration reminiscent inspiration reminiscent of the pagodas. The very centre of the town is marked by the elegant Hussein-pasha’s Mosque ( Husein-pašina džamija) the most beautiful oriental monument in Montenegro. The gem of Ottoman architecture labelled as a “mosque worthy of an emperor” by the Ottoman writer Evliya Celebi in his 17th century travelogue, was constructed around 1580 based on the others of Hussein-pasha Boljanić. Born in the vicinity of Pljevlja, he climbed to the top ranks of the Ottoman Empire holding the title of vizier and positions such as the administrator of Egyipt and the governor of Baghdad. It is assumed that its architect was Hayrudin who also built the famous Mostar Bridge. The approach to the mosque’s yard is by the covered fountain, used for ritual cleaning. The mosque has a square base with a large central cupola and two decorative ones at its rear. The open porch stands on the stone columns ending in ogee arches while covered with three smaller cupolas and brightly painted. Next to its stands a slender minaret which was rebuilt in 19 after it was destroyed by a lightening. With its height of 42m it is one of the Balkans. The interior distinguishes itself with many colorful floral and geometric paintings of which the most imposing are the ones covering the cupola and the one of the mihrab niche. The courtyard also contains the clock tower built simultaneously as the mosque and several Muslim and Roman tombstones.
Not far from the mosque is the Milet bašta ( Turkish for “People’s Garden”) a park with a restaurants of the same name where you will be served by the pupils of the local waiters’ college.
Another pleasant recreational area in Pljevlja is Vodice to the east of the town centre. The sight rightfully deserves its name since water ( voda) is everywhere: a small lake is fed by a fast brook crossed by a couple of bridges.
At the outskirts of the town, in 1,5km from the centre, lies the Monastery of Sveta Trojica (Holy Trinity). To reach it, pass the Milet bašta and head uphill and the right, passing the large wooden area.
The monastery was founded around 1535 by Visarion, a wealthy merchant from Pjevlja who decided to spend the end of his life as a monk. For his endowment he chose the rocks at the end of a quiet vale surrounded by forest, which seemingly appears many miles away from any settlement extensive renovation in 1592 the original church was widened with a narthex and a cupola. In this and the following century here operated a small but enduring transcribing school which left behind an extensive array of beautiful painted manuscripts. In the 19th c. the monastery got its present look with an outer narthex added to the church and large buildings of monks’ dwellings. These are excellent examples of folk architecture while their details are heavily influenced by the orient. Built into the outer walls of the church there are several 19th c. tombstones, while on the side hangs a klepetalo, a wooden board the replaces the bells during the observation of the fasts. The interior of the church is covered by colorful is somewhat rustic frescoes by priest Srahinja of Budimlje from 1595. Apart from the usual cycles such as the extensive Passion of Christ we find here also the procession of ten Nemanjić rules, which reflects the atmosphere of national discontent and insurrections against the Turks. Sveta Trojica has one of the richest treasuries in the country. Amongst many worthy items the most valuable are the two late 16th c. icons by Andrija Raičević ( St Stephen and the Three Hierarchs), an inlaid monastery door of oriental inspiration several 16th c. liturgical objects influenced by the gothic style, and finally several relics, such as the staff that allegedly belonged to St Sava as well as his left hand. There is a possibility to stay at the monastery in the adapted monks’ cells , ideal for those who prefer the experience to comfort.
Pljevlja also has a Local Museum situated diagonally from Hussein-pasha’s mosque in the Hall of Culture where it shares its premises with the public library. The museum has valuable archeological collection consisting of the finds from the “Municipium S”. Amongst these stands out the glass vase of diatretum type, one of only a few examples preserved in the whole world.
Montenegro Hostel Team