Cetinje, the old historic capital of Montenegro, is a pleasant small town with harmonious architecture and an undoubted sense of pride for its heritage, which is best observed in the museums that are amongst the richest in the country. Tourist season or not, the town enjoys its own slow pace with barley anyone outside during hot summers days, the situation which abruptly changes in the pleasant fresh evenings when both young and old get to streets for a walk or to sip a drink or two. Located close to the coast, Cetinje attract many tourists on one day visits from the nearby Budva or Kotor but to be fully Explored in certainly deserves more time.
Cetinje lies in the middle of an elongated karst field ringed with barren mountains . Before the mid 15th c. It was a mere katun (a seasonal shepherds’ dwelling) in the middle of nowhere but the advancement of the Turks forced Ivan Crnojević to move his seat deeper into the mountains and in 1482 he decided to build his court here. Two years later he bought an orthodox bishop as well and established a monastery next to the court. The monks operated the printing press famous for the production of the oldest Serb and indeed the oldest South Slavic incunabula. However, the new capital never lived to become a town as the Turks conquered the site in 1496 and the last of the Crnojević had to flee to Italy. Their court was destroyed but the monastery was left alone. In the region of highland mountain villages settled by shepherds the monastery served not only as a spiritual refuge but much more as the only authority they really respected: whether they rebelled against the Turkish taxations or when they quarreled over the fields and pastures they looked to the bishop for solutions. The monastery’s influence slowly increased until it became their unofficial center and thus Cetinje became the capital before it even became a town.
In those harsh days the history of the Cetinje Monastery, the hub of all resistance to the Turks, became one with the bloody history of Montenegro which consisted of endless rebellions and wars.
The Turks knew this well and the monastery was burnt down and destroyed several times while the field Cetinje was to place where the few Turkish armies that were successful in making it this far tried to impose peace on the hostile clans. The first step in the transformation of Cetinje to a town was made in 1838 when Njegoš built his fortified palace in front of monastery. The men needed at the palace, the guards and its first senators soon built their houses next to it. The further development of state authority and administration brought to Cetinje its first clerks, doctors, shopkeepers, and workers for the state printing house. These were followed by many clean leaders who held important state functions and who started spending more time in the capital than in their native villages. The town grew even faster when in 1878 Montenegro became an internationally recognized country. Around the court of Prince Nikola formed a circle of well-known personalities, such as the Serb writers Laza Kostić and Simo Matavulj and Russian geographer Pavel Rovinski, who instigated the cultural and intellectual life of the capital by running the literary magazine founding the reading room and the first theatre. By the end of the 19th century Cetinje grew to around 400 houses and 2,500 inhabitants. It acquired a form of a very small but orderly town with court and government buildings, foreign legations, parks and even such excess as the skate-ring. On the other hand, it still was a capital of a poor warrior nation, and presented a curiosity to the outsiders with is male inhabitants, from innkeepers to MPs carrying weapons and with sheep and cattle lurking just around the corner from the Royal Palace.
Cetinje managed to escape the destruction of WWI but witnessed a bloody day of fighting on Orthodox Christmas in 1918 when the town was unsuccessfully attacked by adherents of the disposed King Nikola. In Yugoslavia the town remained the seat of the regional administration but the local governor could hardly match the pomposity of the exiled King. In the Second World War the town was occupied by the Italians who tried in vain to promote it into a capital of their puppet state of Montenegro. The town was liberated by communist partisans in 1944 but already in 1948 the capital of the new republic was transferred to Titograd (Podgorica). Cetinje gradually fell into slumber and was kept alive only by its two factories. This was changed during the last few decades as more institutions as well as two faculties where transferred here, bringing with them educated and young people to the town. The inhabitants of Cetinje proudly cherish memories of the town’s importance and in the last decade played an important role in the revival of Montenegrin nationalism and the road to independence.
The oldest surviving edifice in Cetinje is its monastery around which the town grew. The present day monastery was built in 1710 by metropolitan Danilo following the destruction of the complex by the Turks in 1692. For the sight of his new monastery Danilo chose the place previously occupied by the court of Ivan Crnojević which was easier to defend with is back and sides sheltered by rocks and with a high wall needed on just one side.
He chose wisely as the monastery had to be defended several times during the 18th century. The last occasion it was looted and burnt down was in 1785 which was the last time the Turkish forces made it to Cetinje. As the metropolitan was also the ruler of Montenegro the monastery was the center of spiritual and political life of the country. In 1838 Njegoš moved to his newly erected Biljarda court where he continued to perform his state duties. In 1851 the roles of bishop and prince were separated and the monastery remained a seat of the spiritual authority over the whole Montenegro remaining so to this very day.
The monastery complex is an unusually cluster of edifices which were all build with local stone. Its central feature is a church dedicated to the Bright of Virgin Mary with a high bell tower at its farther end and an apse jutting towards the approaching visitor. In the middle of the apse one can the plaque with a two-headed eagle, coat- of- arms of the Crnojevićs, which originates from their old court. To the right of the church is the covered graveyard of the Petrović-Njegošs. By the main entrance to the complex are a drinking well and the grave of Janko Vukotić, the commander-in-chief of the Montenegrin army in World War One.
In the stone clad courtyard there are several more tombs, the most notable ones being of metropolitan Sava (1735-82) and of metropolitan Mitrofan Ban whose main achievement was the unification of bishoprics under his jurisdiction with other orthodox-Serb ones in the newly formed Kingdom of Yugoslavia, hence forming the united Patriarchate of Peć.
The entrance to the monastery church is gained through a small narthex and door above stands a carved inscription about founding of the monastery in 1484, brought here from the destroyed old monastery.
The interior of the church is unpainted but has a high iconostasis a work of anonymous Greek painter from the mid 19th century. The right of it is a casket with a relics of St Petar of Cetinje, the most venerated saint of Montenegro, because of which this monastery is also sometimes referred to as the “Monastery of St Petar of Cetinje”. Inside the church are also the graves of Prince Danilo of grand duke Mirko, father of King Nikola.
The central part of the monastery is comprised of monk’s cell which lie behind the arched porches with short columns whose capitals display two-headed eagles and come from the old monastery.
On the other side of the courtyard is the entrance to the treasury. As it contains innumerable wealth it can be visited only in a guided tour available until 2 p.m. every day. The monks will take no less than three persons and no more than ten inside, with the price fixed at 20 euro you are advised to form a larger group to reduce your expanses. This should not present a problem as the monastery is visited by many tourists during the season but pay attention that, depending on the group’s choice, that tours are either in Serbian, English or Russian. The treasury is the richest in Montenegro and one of the richest in all of Serb Orthodox monasteries. It contains many ornamented vestments and richly embroidered bishops’ robes ( one especially splendid associated with St.Sava) scepters, the church flag from the time Balšićs and two old miters, one supposedly belonging to King Stefan Dečanski (14th century), the other metropolitan Visarion Borilović from the 16th century. Amid the liturgical objects the most interesting is intricately carved wooden cross framed with gold (1637).Of special interest are books kept here such as the hand illuminated Divoš’s Gospel and Cvjetni Triod ( both 17th century), then the valuable incunabula (first printed books) –Krakow Breviary-the first Slavic printed book from 1491, Psalter from the Crnojević printing-house (1494) with its excellent woodcut illustrations in the spirit of renaissance, as well as the 16th century books printed in Venice by Božidar Vuković and his son Vićentije and Jerolim Zagurović in Kotor.
Of special interest is the founding charter of Cetinje Monastery guarded throughout the centuries by the monks, the seal and the stuff of Ivan Crnojević. There is also a special chapel keeping the splinter of the True Cross and the right hand of St. John the Baptist, two relics of utmost value.
Right in front of monastery stands the threshing floor (gumno) reconstructed in our times to the likeness of the original one constructed by metropolitan Savo in the mid 18th century. Its diameter is the same as the Tsar-bell in Moskow’s Kremlin, which Sava visited. The threshing floor of the monastery, as well as the other villages ones from the region, was used not only for the purpose of finishing field work but also as a convenient place for gatherings of people of which important community matters were debated. This one was especially important as the making of all state decisions and the elections of the metropolitans happened here. A good part of Njegoš’s “ Mountain Wreath” is set here as well.
Taking the road to the right of the monastery will lead you to a small plateau where until 1938 stood Tablja. This was a large tower which was built in 1835 by Njegoš for defensive purposes but it was soon discovered that it was not suitable and its construction was abandoned. Instead, it became a place where the cut-off Turkish heads were displayed until this habit was abandoned in the latter part of 19th century.
Later on it was used as a palace from which important guests were greeted and important news announced with cannon fire. After 1873 when the foundry of Laza Urošević from Zemun ( Belgrade) donated a large bell with a weight of 1631 kg Tablja served as bell- tower of the monastery. The tower was pulled down with an intention to construct the new episcopal (model of which can be seen in the treasury of the monastery) in its place but this never happened due to WWII. Its bell was carried to a small belfry standing above this site.
The large cavity seen on the west side of the plateau is one of the entrances to Cetinjska Cave, a little explored natural phenomenon 1680 m long and with a small stream at its bottom. Because it is not adapted for visits the cave is out of reach to tourists who can only benefit from a constant stream of frosty air flowing outside it.
biljarda (njegoš's museum)
Thus stately stone edifice of unusual design was built in 1838 by Njegoš as a first step in separating his duties as a metropolitan and his duties as a ruler. The money for the construction as well as the architect-emissary Yakov Oseretskovsky–came from Russia, from which Njegoš just returned. With its walls and round tower at each of its four corners it looked more like a castle than residence, the sign of the time when a potential Turkish attack was still a grim reality. Initially called just the “New House” the edifice got its present day name after a billiard table brought by Njegoš from Kotor to shorten his long days.
With its 25 rooms it was the largest edifice in the country. For the Montenegrins of the period whose houses only had one or two rooms it was enormous and instead of saying ”many” a term “as many as Biljarda rooms” become widely used. Contrary to popular belief, Njegoš used just two its rooms, one as bathroom and other for living room, all others were intended for various state institutions, rooms for his personal guards and and guestrooms for any important foreign visitor coming to Cetinje. One of the rooms was also used to store the trophies from wars with the Turks, the core of the current historical museum.
Biljarda was also used by prince Danilo, during whose reign it experienced its hardest and most glorious hours and then by prince Nikola until 1867. After the princes moved out, Biljarda housed almost all institutions of the young state at various time, from printing house and seminary to high school and ministries who used it until they got their own buildings. In accordance with new needs the corner towers were torn down and Biljarda’s look was drastically changed. This was reserved in 1951 when it got its original looks back for the celebration of a sentinel of Njegoš’s death.A few years later a museum opened here displaying the items connected with the life and work of Njegoš.
Today they are two permanent exhibitions to be seen here, included in a single ticket. On the ground level is the one of the development of Montenegrin army with many interesting uniforms, insignia and old photos to be seen. On the upper floor the items of Njegoš Museum are displayed. Only of few of exhibits were used by Njegoš himself but there are a number of objects from the period. Of Njegoš’s personal belongings the most interesting is armchair whose legs had to be extended to fit his giant statue. Also to be seen here are many weapons, captured Turkish flags, portraits of Njegoš and pictures of famous Montenegrins of the period, the original manuscript of the “Mountain Wreath” and many editions of the work, his and personal library of his uncle Petar I, Njegoš’s letters and notes and at the end his testament. Many works of art inspired by his personality and his literary works are also displayed here.
A separate feature of the Museum is the large relief map of Montenegro, which takes up the lion’s share of Biljarda’s courtyard. It was made in 1916/17 during the Austrian-Hungarian occupations by their army geographers and had a strategic use. Done in 1:10,000 scale it is accurate in every detail and offers a perfect chance to examine all of Montenegro from a birds-eye view with roads and towns as they were almost a century ago.
In 1890 Prince Nikola built a new church on the ruins of the old Cetinje Monastery founded in 1484; dedicated to the old church’s served as a court chapel. You can explore the remaining foundations of the original monastery but the most interesting trance of its existence are the four columns in front of the church entrance, each with a double-headed eagle depicted on its capital.
The original church in the monastery was stately edifice built by craftsmen from Dubrovnik and was the first ( and the last) among Serb churches to have details of renaissance style incorporated in its design. The court church of 1890 is a single nave edifice with with a six sided cupola and the typical front belfry “on distaff”.
Inside one can see the high iconostas which was, as well as many icons on its unpainted walls, created by masters from St Petersburg. On the floor can be seen the grave memorials of Ivan Crnojević as well as of King Nikola and his Queen Milena, whose earthly remains were brought here in 1989 from Russian Church in San Remo ( Italy ) where they died in exile.
museum of king nikola
The museum is located in the edifice of the New Court to which prince Nikola and his family moved when they left Biljarda in 1867. This non-pretentious one-floor building looked even plainer before it got its present day looks with a balcony and gable in 1910. Though done in European style, the dark-red painted building with grey roof white details has a certain rough, mountain simplicity that makes it unmistakably Montenegrin. The building was used as a court until Nikola’s departure from Montenegro in 1916. From 1926 it served as a museum.
The court preserves all the original interiors and decoration from the time when royal family lived here. On the ground floor is the study of King Nikola with his personal clothes, uniforms and weapons. Next to them state flags and arms, a set of Montengrin currency perper (in use only from 1906 to 1916) and postage stamps (from 1874) are displayed.
The medial collection includes both the decorations of Montenegro including the “Medal of Obilić” ( named after legendary hero of the Kosovo Battle, where the portrait of Obilić was modeled on Njegoš’s appearance), and this ceremonial one representing all the members of the house of Petrović-Njegoš from vladika Danilo to King Nikola, as well as range of foreign medals amongst them the most peculiar being one from the Turkish Sultan awarded to King Nikola during a brief period of peace between these two nations. The smaller rooms to the right contain a court library with many valuable and rare volumes including the books from the Crnojević printing house, old charters, originals of the international agreements and codes of law of Montenegro.
The rooms on the first floor retain fully the style they had while they were used the large dining room, several salons, the reception rooms and the bed chambers. The most interesting items here are many portraits of Nikola’s family and their relatives from other European royal courts. There are many of these as Nikola married five of his daughters to various kings and dukes thus gaining the nickname of “the father-in-law of Europe”. Among the historic paintings the best known is the “The Evacuation of Montenegrin Court” by Czech Jaroslav Čermak which depicts the soldiers evacuating paintings from the Montenegrin court through the waist-high snow due to the arriving threat of the Turks, and Valho Bukovac’s “Montenegrins Around a gusle-player”.
The main feature of the square at the front of the Court is a small park with a monument to Ivan Crnojević, the founder of Cetinje, work of Ante Gržetić from 1982 when the town celebrated five centuries of its existence.
To the left of the museum stands the building of the Bulgarian Legation today housing the “Gradska kafana” restaurant. The house was built in 1910 by architect Fernando Balacco who was finishing the reconstruction works on the court building at the time. However Bulgarian diplomats stayed here only for three years as in 1913 diplomatic ties between the two countries were severed when Montenegro joined Serbia against Bulgaria in the Second Balkans War.
Next to it stands the house on whose ground floor the Atelier “Dado” is located, named after painter Miodrag “Dado” Djurić who worked here for a period of time. Today one can see here permanent exhibitions by various artists mainly from Montenegro.
The house in the which the museum is located in 1883 as a wedding gift from Prince Nikola to his daughter Zorka who married Petar Karadjordjević, the pretender to the trone of Serbia.
The couple lived here for some years and it was here that their son Aleksandar, future King of Yugoslavia was born. Zorka died before her husband became the next King of Serbia in 1903 and hence the house was listed as Peter’s property, which he donated to his state at the beginning of 1914 to establish the legation for Serbia and Montenegro.
As the large collections of the Ethnographic Museum can not fit into the few rooms on this modest building here stand displayed only the long-lasting temporary exhibitions . The current one is named „From thread to Fabric“ and presents the traditional textile handiwork, tools and techniques as well as parts of the national costumes from various parts of Montenegro.
house of the government
When the construction work on this building started 1909 the rumor was that Montenegro was a brink of something huge. In 1910 Prince Nikola announced that on the 50th anniversary of his rule he decided to assume the title of the King and to bestow the constitution to the country and organize its first elections. The young parliament and its government were housed in this brand new edifice, a tasty mix of neo-renaissance and neo-baroque.However, the building was still spacious enough to host the post and telegraph office as well as the state printing house.
Today this is the seat of the National Museum of Montenegro which incorporates all the museums in Cetinje and is a home to the Historical Museum of Montenegro which incorporates all the museums in Cetinje and its home to the Historical Museum and the Gallery of Modern Art.
The ground floor is occupied by the Historical Museum. The first room deals with prehistory, antique and the medieval state of Duklja , displays the Greek vases from Budva, archaeological findings from the Roman town of Doclea and reproductions of medieval documents and frescoes. Second room is dedicated to the Balšić and Crnojević dynasties that ruled parts of Montenegro in the 14th and 15th century. Their period is illustrated by the coins they minted, the jewelry, copies of pages from the first printed books etc. The third room illustrates the period of the Turkish domination and the fight for liberation with many old manuscripts and books and items belonging to the first bishop-prices. The fourth room displays the items from the time of Petar I and his successor Petar II (Njegoš) with the most interesting exhibits being the old Turkish and Montenegrin flags, including the Montenegrin war flag from the battle Vučji Do ( 1876) pierced by innumerous bullets, then the various arms from the period as well as the death-mask of Kara Mahmud pasha Bushatli, taken from his cut-off head after his defeat Krusi in 1796. Similar display of varied sabers, dervish axes North African knives and flags captured in the battles against the Turks is the main feature of a smaller room dedicated to the 19th century. The sixth room focuses on the period of Kingdom (1910-1918)with various state insignia, coins and banknotes to be seen. The next room deals with the inter war period, mainly with the Christmas Uprising against the dethronement of King Nikola and with the work of the Communist party, with photos, documents and , of course, guns used in fighting. The last room illustrates the events during the WWII when the territory of Montenegro saw bloody fighting between various factions fighting for or against the occupying forces.
The first floor houses the Gallery if Modern Art which, in spite of its name, has also a collection of icons and some academic works of art. Its first room features the works of fine art from the territory of the former Yugoslavia from 1890s to 1970s with works of such famous painters such as Vlaho Bukovac and Sava Šumanović or sculptors such as Toma Rosandić. The collection of Milica and Svetozar Vukmanović is more modern and abstract and has works of art of Yugoslav artists such as Mića Popović and Milan Konjević as well as the few smaller works of Renoir, Picasso, Chagall and Dali. The next room is dedicated to the icons and religious paintings whose prime exhibits are the icons and religious paintings whose prime exhibits are the icons of the Dimitrijević- Rafailović school from the Montenegrin coast, “The Execution of the St Genevieve” a late medieval work by unknown master form north Europe and two representatives of the Holy Family, one by Giovanni Battista Pittoni and the other by Tripo Kokolja, the greatest baroque painter from the territory of Boka Kotorska.
A special room, colored in mystic dark blue light is left especially for the icon of Our Lady of Philermo, one of the holiest in the whole of Christianity. Next is the Montenegrin collection which gives you an overview of the fine arts in Montenegro from its beginnings with Anastas Bocarić ( late 19th century) and Pero Poček( first quarter of the 20th of century) via modernists to the especially rich post-modern group of paintings by Dado Djurić and Vojo Stanić. One room sis dedicated to the works of Milo Milunović ( 1897-1967)who during his lifespan passed through the phases of impressionism, neoclassicism and most notably expressionism inspired by the colors and light of the Mediterranean (“Fruits of the Sea”, 1954). The exhibitions of works by Petar Lubarda (1907-1974), certainly the most important figure in Montenegrin art, includes several of his famous landscapes inspired by rugged Montenegrin karst including the anthological, almost abstract “Nights in Montenegro” (1951) and the large canvas with a theme from national history “The Kosovo Battle” . Next room presents the work of Branko Filipović “Filo” (1924-1998) a fully abstracted artist whose main medium was color. The last room hosts the works of Dado Djurić ( born 1934) a surrealist who paints apocalyptic visions and creates sculptures twisted in many mutations.
MIRACULOUS TRAVELS FROM THE HOLY LAND TO CETINJE
When St. Luke the Evangelist came to Sebastia to take body of St John the Baptist, the people would not let him take it because of their belief in its miraculous workings and he had to settle for his right hand. St. Luke took the hand to Antioch from where is was later transferred to Constantinople and kept as the holiest of the relics in the church of Hagia Sophia. St. Luke is also attributed to have painted the icon of Madonna while looking at the Virgin Mary. The icon was brought during some unknown age to to the Byzantine isle of Rhodes where it was highly venerated in the church of the hill of Philermos. In 1309 the island was conquered by the by the Knights Hospitaller and the icon’s veneration was successfully adopted by the Order who proclaimed it as its patroness. Some years after the taking of Constantinople the Turkish Sultan gave the hand of St John to the Knights as a diplomatic gesture while somewhat later the French king Louis XII presented the Knights with the splinter of the True Cross; thus all three relics found today in Cetinje were finally united in one place. It was believed that the miraculous Icon protected the island and the Hospitallers and helped them fight off several Turkish attacks until the siege by Mahomet the Conqueror in 1522 when the Knights had to leave the island. The Order rambled around Europe in search for a patron for seven years carrying with it their most precious sanctities. In the Emperor Charles V gave them island of Malta after which they were named the Kings of Malta. Around the relics of St John’s hand grew the island’s cathedral and in the cathedral a chapel, dedicated to Madonna of Philermos, which obtained great wealth through donations by the Knights and pilgrims.
In 1798 Napoleon conquered the island and took these treasures to finance his expedition to Egypt but let the last Grand Master take with him the Icon (though stripped of its golden frame) , the Hand and the Splinter. The Knights lost their home once again but were warmly welcomed by the Russian Tsar Paul I who gave them shelter. In gratitude the Knights presented their most valuable treasures gems, the ones that we see today. Paula’s successors had different options about the Order and it moved from St Petersburg to Rome but the holy objects remained with the Romanoffs until 1919 when the Russian priests managed to take them out the reach of the Bolsheviks and gave them to the Empress-Mother who escaped Denmark. On her deathbed Maria Fyodorovna conferred in 1928 the relics to a priest who took them to Berlin and eventually to Belgrade, where the exiled seat of the Russian Orthodox Church was. The Russian patriarch gave them to his benefactor King Aleksandar of Yugoslavia who stored them in his place. When the Nazis attacked Yougoslavia in 1941 the relics were taken by the underage king Petar II and his government to Nikšić. The young king and his government flew from the improvised airport to London but left the relics in the nearby Ostrog monastery where they were hidden well. Searching for the treasures left behind by the royal dynasty, the communist secret service of Yugoslavia found the three objects in 1952 and took them in its keeping during which the largest of the gems from the icon was stolen. In 1978 the icon was donated to the Museum in Cetinje as an object of artistic value while the hand of St John and the splinter of the Holy Cross were given to the metropolitan of Montenegro.
The central street of Cetinje stretches from the Presidential Palace in the north across the Karalja Nikola Square to the hostel “Grand” in the greenery of Cetinje commons. This was and still is Cetinje’s high street with many shops and important institutions lined along it. But is many restaurants and cafes give it its essence and in the evenings transform it into a lively promenade where one comes to stroll and meet his friends. Starting in the left direction from the point where is Njegoševa street meets Kralja Nikole Square there is a line of houses from the first half of 20th of century, most them modest one-floor houses whit shops on the ground floor and living quarters on the upper with a few exceptions of more recent origin. The first corner to the right takes you to Balšića pazar, a nice square which used to serve as a marketplace, with a nice old fountain with lions’ head spitting water in its middle. Present day green market (pijaca) of Cetinje lies behind the row oh houses on Baja Pivljanina St. which forms one side of Balšića Pazar. Returning back to Njegoševa St. one reaches the Djukanović House, the first edifice on the right following small patch of green. The house, a real miniature palace with interesting neo-baroque sculptures, was built in 1910 by Marko Djukanović, the state engineer of Montenegro.
At the following intersection stands the building of the French Legation. It was built in 1908-10 following the plans of architect Paul Goudet in a modern style where vertical and horizontal lines are equal importance and with a minimalist decoration mainly in ceramics. The building today houses a part of the National Library. Across the street in the Vukotić House (1914), whose plain facade, round windows at the top floor and reinforced concrete construction mark the first surfacing of modern architecture in Cetinje.
Second building to the right of the Vukotić house is the Presidential Palace, by whose entrance stand the ceremonial guards in their showy red uniforms. This monumental palace was built in 1934 following the plains of Bogdan Nestorivić from Belgrade as the seat of the branch of the State Hypothec Bank. Especially nice are two figures standing by its entrance representing a man and woman from Montenegro in their national costumes. Across the street is the edifice formerly belonging to the Bank of Montenegro, still displaying its name in several languages on its facade even though it was built in 1910, four years after the introduction of the new Montenegrin currency, the perper.
This is where Njegoševa Street ends and the broad Boulevard of Montenegrin Heroes (Bulevar crnogorskih junaka) starts. The boulevard will lead you to the bulky buildings designed for the clerks of the regional Zetska banovina administration. On the other side of the road leading towards Mt Lovćen stands the Italian Legation from 1910 with a large garden that once included tennis courts, a favored pastime of foreign diplomats living in Cetinje in those days. Today the legation serves as the seat of the National Library.
A the lower end of Njegoševa Street the most memorable edifice is the Blue Palace, named after the color of its exterior. It was constructed in 1895 for the use of the heir to the throne, prince Danilo. Today it serves as an exhibition space of the National Museum.
To the right of the Palace is the modest building of the British Legation adapted from local houses in 1312-14.To the front of the Palace is the Town Park, laid out towards the end of 19th century for the pleasure of the growing middle class of Cetinje, while its back lies the Court Park, once enclosed by a wall. At its further end are two busts erected during the marking of sentinel of Njegoš’s death in 1951, the one representing his teacher Simo Milutinović Sarajlija, and other Ljuba Nenadović , a writer who accompanied Njegoš on many of his journeys and later recorded his recollection.
ZETSKI DOM "THE HOUSE OF ZETA"
“The House of Zeta” is a popular name given to the first theatre building in Montenegro, celebrating the glory of the medieval state Zeta, the precursor of Montenegro. The work on providing a temporary stage to the amateur theatre group which included almost the whole of intellectual elite of the town started in 1884. After the rough works were finished the building was opened with the drama “The Balkan Empress” ( Balkanska Carica) by Prince Nikola but the works on the interior protracted all the way to 1896 due to a lack of funding . Except for the theatre stage, it was also the seat of the state library and museum and it was here that most of sessions of the Montenegrin parliament took place. In the courtyard of Zetski dom stands the bust of Jovan Pavlović, a Serb from the province of Vojvodina who like, many others, came to Cetinje to help the small princedom and was one of the founders of the town’s reading room, first high school and a theatre becoming a minister of education in the process.
To the right of the theatre stands the bulky Banovina building ( Nikolay Krasnov, 1930-32) that got his name after the administrative seat of Zetska banovina, one of the nine regions into which Yugoslavia was divided in 1929. Today this building serves as the seat of the local assembly meets on signification occasions, promoting of the town as the historical capital of the country.
The first street to the right of the Banovina will take you to the building of Russian Legation, the most beautiful among the buildings of the foreign missions in Montenegro. This work of architect Corradini completed in 1903 in enclosed by decorative railings with two sentry boxes, has a rich ornamentation on its main facade and a pavilion and fountain in its garden. Today the building is used by the faculty of Fine Arts.
The church is the oldest building in Cetinje Field but for a long time was not considered as a part of Cetinje which grew from the direction of the monastery. It was erected as a wooden edifice in the mid 15th century, before the establishment of the court and monastery of Ivan Crnojević, by the cattle breeders ( vlasi) who formed a special category of population in medieval Serbia and Zeta. Torn down and rebuilt several times, it obtained its present look in 1864. Though seemingly quite usual, its fence is actually mad from 1544 barrels of Turkish guns captured in 1876-79 wars. The church use the stand in the middle of the graveyard with many stećak tombstones but is these were later used as building material only two survive to this day, standing by the gate of the churchyard. Other gravestones are newer in origin, some very decorative. Inside it is an iconostasis painted in 1878 by Dinkonski brothers from Macedonia. On the square at the front of the church a monument known as “ The Fairy of Lovćen” ( Lovćenska vila) stands tall. It was erected in 1939 to the memory of 350 men from Montenegro, Boka Kotorska and Herzegovina who left America and headed to help Montenegro in its efforts in WWI but whose ship was torpedoed in January 1916 close to the Albanian coast and they all drowned. The sculpture of the “fairy” and the reliefs of its sides illustrating the event are work of the sculptor Risto Stijović .
Proceeding northwards by the way of Baja Pivljanina St. after the next four blocks you will reach the Austrian-Hungarian Legation. This was the first among the buildings of the foreign missions to be constructed-the building of its started in 1896 and was finished two years later. The catholic chapel in the style of small churches of the Adriatic coast adjoining the legation was consecrated in 1899. Today is building used for Institute for the Protection of Monuments of Montenegro.
“Eagle’s Crag” is the name for a steep, rocky hill that surmounts the town from the south east. The walk to its peak is popular with the people of Cetinje due to its proximity to the town’s centER and the orderly track leading to it where one can see the mausoleum of vladika Danilo and enjoy memorable views. The small mausoleum was envisioned by princess Jelena, wife of King Emmanuelle of Italy , and then designed in detail by the French architect Frouchet. It has form of a grave covered by a baldachin with a coat-of-arms on each of its sides-the first is f the state, second of the ruling dynasty, then the old arms of Montenegro and the end one of the Cetinje metropolitan diocese. In addition to the view of almost all of Cetinje lying beneath you, on the other side open great prospects of the Lovćen Mountain.
Montenegro Hostel Team