The town of Berane is the centre of Upper Lim valley. It lies in the region known since medieval times as Budimlje, a prosperous country that lay in the middle of the medieval Serbian state. The town itself is actually the youngest in the whole of Montenegro. Its beginning lies in the year 1862 when the Turks built their barracks in the field near the village of Beran to watch over the region of Andrijevica, won by Montenegro in 1860.The town grew around officers’ houses but the orthodox population did not settled in longer numbers until its liberation in 1912 when the Berane became the seat of district and got a high school, the only such institution in this part of the country.
From the 1949 to 1992 the town was renamed to Ivangrad after Ivan Milutinović, one of the leading communist and leaders of uprising in WWII. The sign with the old name can still be seen on some old notice boards so don’t get confused.
Though quite large, Berane is uninteresting apart from the weird blend of oriental neglect witnessed in crumbling old houses, socialist blocks, streets sellers as well as utterly chaotic driving. The man street, Igumana Mojsija Zečevića, is a wide pedestrian promenade filled with cafes. At its upper end is a square with the seat of the local community. Facing it is the House of Gavro Vuković, local chief and the first minister of foreign affairs of Montenegro, which was built in 1913 in a modest variation of current European fashion. To your right is the building housing the Polimski muzej with an interesting collection of archeological, historical and ethnographic items. The most interesting are 14th c. chain mail, old firearms and costumes from the Lim region. By far the most interesting monument in Berane is the Monastery of Djudjevi stupovi ( “George’s Towers”) the seat of the orthodox bishopric. It is located on the western outskirt of the town: follow the sign to get off main road to Andrijevica and then take the third street to your right. The church dedicated to St George was built at the end of the 12th century by Župan Prvoslav cousin of Stefan Nemanja. Unusually long but nevertheless harmonious church is a result of three building stages. The part with a cupola is the oldest and was done by maritime builders, which were preferred by the Nemanjićs. The higher part with a belfry was added around 1219 when St Sava established here one of the seven bishoprics of the newly founded autonomous Serbian church. Originally the edifice boasted not one but two towers, the feature that earned it its name. On the west side the church ends with the outer narthex from the 18th c. The interior is plain and comprises only a few centuries survived five annihilations of the monastery. Djudjevi stupovi was an important centre for local Christians, especially of the Vasojevići clan. It was here that in 1829 abbot Mojsije Zečević led the assembly that revised and adopted collectively the traditional clan laws. This seat of commandments known as Vasojevićki zakon, presents a short, easily comprehensible and merciless rules of survival in those cruel and lawless times.
Some 15km to the east of Berane is Mt Cimljevica (1963m) under which is located the ski-centre Lokve with a freshly reconstructed hotel of the same name and three ski-lifts leading to five ski pistes.
GUSLE-THE CALL OF THE PAST
Gusle is a Serb national instrument of ancient origin similar to a fiddle but with only one string ( or exceptionally in some areas, two strings) where the sound is produced by pulling the bow over the string while holding the instrument in one’s lap. The created sound is sharp, dramatic, almost unpleasant and-contrary to the looks-it takes a lot of skill to make it. But the sole sound of gusle is not important on its owns as it is always accompanied by singing of the guslar. His chant is a kind of lament repeated over and over, highly intonated and hypnotic, more a recitation than a real song. This comes from the fact that with gusle one always singes epic songs, telling the deeds of heroes and heroic acts and it has been so for centuries. The oldest songs accompanied by gusle come from the Middle Ages and sing about Kosovo Battle and the legendary hero Kraljević Marko. Their glory days were during the times when they replaced both books and newspapers for the poor and illiterate peasants, singing about the lost freedom of the Serbs and encouraging men to new heroic acts. The instrument and its songs are still alive today, telling stories of current events from its own, archaic point of view. Guslarske večeri, the “Evening of guslars” are still a usual kind of pastime in many towns and guslars are still highly revered and appreciated. In Montenegro it is almost impossible to image a home without a family owned gusle hung on the wall, usually richly carved with interesting national symbols, mythological or historical representations.
Montenegro Hostel Team