Žabljak ( with an addition “of the Crnojevićs, not to be mixed with the one near Mt Durmitor) is well preserved medieval castle with a small village underneath it at edge of the Skadarsko Lake.
Though it is almost a certain that at this same place stood the fortified center of an early medieval Slav shire of Podlužje, the castle of Žabljak as we see it today is the work of Crnojevićs from the mid 15th century when they turned it into their principal residence. However, neither its mighty walls nor the exquisite position could save it from the relentless drive of the Ottomans and it was taken in 1478 by Sultan Mohammed the Conqueror forcing Ivan Crnojević. The Turks kept a large garrison here which first operated against the Venetians and later kept the nearby Montenegrin clans at bay. The Montenegrins captured the castle from the Turks for the first time in a surprise attack in 1852, an incident that led to a war with the Ottoman Empire. After the Turks finally lost the castle in the 1878 war, Žabljak’s defensive role disappeared and it gradually turned into a ruin.
The only way to reach Žabljak Crnojevića is from Golubovci: heading in the direction of Petrovac, take right turn at the only traffic light in the town; after a short drive you will pass across a narrow bridge and then you should take a left turn; there follows a longer ride and another bridge (altogether 9 km from Golubovci). In front of emerges a view of a solemn hill covered with small houses and crowned with a castle. Beware that in springtime the high level of the Skadarsko Lake’s water may enclose it turning the hill into and island and forcing you to negotiate a boat drive from the locals. In front of parking area lays a Tukish bridge that used to connect it on these occasions. The scenic ensemble is ruined by the recent concrete and brick additions to its small stone houses. Apart from a couple of shanty bars operating during the season the site is largely neglected. A steep climb passes the village church and the ruins of a mosque and leads to the castle walls which are up to 14 m tall and two meters thick. Next to the castle’s only gate stands the round tower still hanging onto its machicolations (openings for shooting downwards from the top of the wall) . Inside the clutter of its ruins stands the monument to the Montenegrins who died capturing it. From here there are excellent views across the plain with Malo blato Lake to the north and Lesendro and Vranjina to south.
Montenegro Hostel Team