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Budva


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With its excellent sandy beaches, multitude of hotels and scenic walled old town Budva, including the surrounding area, it is the single most important summer resort in Montenegro. The old town lies at the cape of Budva’s spacious bay, while the rest of the flat terrain around it is quickly being filed with houses and apartments gaining ground each year. During the beginning and at the end of the season Budva is very pleasant place. Budva is one of the oldest settlements on the Adriatic. The legend holds that was founded by the Theban king Cadmus while the written sources tell us about the Greek colony Buthoa already in 4th c. BC.

The town existed quietly throughout the Roman era but was plundered in 841 by the Saracens. It recovered as the Romans embraced the Slavic and Avar populations who settled locally and gradually mixed with them. In the period of Nemanjić Serbia it was a sizable merchant town, but lingered far behind the importance and wealth of Kotor. The town acquired a statue (whose text is preserved) that regulated its autonomy and all the important communal questions as well, For the house of Balšić it served as the main port both for trade and for sending ships to war with the other nobles. After changing masters several times, Budve decided to accede to Venicein 1443. But by bit, the Turks closed in on its walls leaving Budva cut off from its surroundings and dependent on Venetian help. However, Venice provided to be too far away when in 1571 Turkish pirates from Ulcinj captured and burnt down the town. It was wrestled back the followings year but took a long time to recover to its former condition. The town was damaged by an earthquake that rocked the southern Adriatic in 1667. With the fall of the Venetian Republic in 1797 Budva began a turbulent period in its history. The aristocrats opted for the Habsburgs and the citizens and the peasants for Montenegro, the latter party prevailed and metropolitan Petar I administrated it for several months until the Austrian army arrived. After their defeat at the Austerlitz, the Austrians ceded Budva and other towns of Boka Kotorska to join forces made up of the Montenegrins and the Russian Adriatic fleet. The French attempts to capture the town were fought off and the join government protracted util Tilsit peace was signed in 1807. The French administration was loathed for its clashes with the neighboring clans its attempts of conscription, and the liberation in 1813 by the Montenegins was met with relief. In 1814 Budva become a part of Austria. The Austrian attempts to mobilize men for its army was met with tow insurrections in 1869 and 1882. In 1915, during World War One, Budva was briefly liberated by the Montenegrins during which period many people joined the Montenegrin army. These volunteers returned victoriously in 1918 leading the Serbian army of unifying their town into the new state of Yugoslavia. Tourism flourished already in the 1930s when the first modern hotels were built. In 1979 a strong earthquake reduced Budva to rubble. The recovery of the walled town many years but when it was finally finished Budva shone like never before.

The hub of Budva is its Old Town which became too small for its population only in the second half of 20th c. The reconstruction following the 1979 earthquake purged it from several newer buildings and brought back fully its medieval character with narrow zigzag streets and tiny squares. This also the main shopping district in the town with many small boutiques, jewelers and souvenir shops, but it also home to many fine restaurants and cafes.

 

 

OLD TOWN BUDVA

The Old Town is enclosed by sturdy town walls that stand in the place of the medieval ones but date mostly from renewal following in the 1667 earthquake. The entrance to it is gained through sixes  gates: the main Land Gate from the spacious square facing north, the small Sea Gate towards the small beach and four others from the direction of the yachting marina. It is possible to climb up the walls in three places and walk along the ramparts from the Land Gate to the Citadel. Above the Land Gate stands the winged lion of St Mark, the symbol of Venetian Republic. Further up is a tablet commemorating the liberation of Budva in 1918 by the Serbian army, led by many volunteers from Budva. From the Land Gate starts Njegoševa St., the main street of the Old Town which leads to the Trg Pjesnika ( Poets ‘ Square) with and info point and the tiny Sea Gate to its right.

 

 

 

 

THE SQUARE BETWEEN THE CHURCHES

Two small snaking lanes connect the end of Njegoševa St. with Trg Between The Churches, a square with many street cafes and the four churches of Budva. Leaning on the walls to your right is the Santa Maria in Punta (“Saint Mary in the Cape”) named after its prominent location. It was built in the year 840for a Benedictine monastery but was later taken over by the Francisians who used it until the abolishment of their order by the French in 1807 when it was converted into and armory. Next to it is even smaller ( only 5 by 3 m) church of St Sabbas of Jerusalem  (Sveti Sava Jerusalimski not to be mistaken with St Sava Serbian). It was built in 1141 and used by the Orthodox up to the up to the 16th c when forced to share it with the Franciscians. In the middle of the square stands the beautiful Church of Holy Trinity  ( Crkva Svetog Trojstva) built with interchanging rows of red and white rock modeled after the one in Podmaine monastery. It was erected in 1804 by which time the Orthodox population became a majority and used of fall of Venice to gain religious equality with state-sponsored Catholicism. Inside it is splendidly  gilded iconostasis from 1864 painted by Nicholas Asppitios from the Greek island of Corfu. In front of the church is the modest grave of Stjepan Mitrov Ljubiša. The church with the tall belfry is St. John’s (Crkva Svetog Ivana)until 1828 the seat of the Catholic bishopric while today it is only a parish church. Founded in the 7th c. it bore witness to many changes,destructions and reconstructions until it got its present-day look in the 17th century. The belfry, one of Budva’s landmarks, was added in 1867 while the adjoining bishop’s residence was remodelled in a neo-gothic style in 1903. Inside this three- nave basilica several icons of Byzantine style are displayed, the most important amongst them stands in the marble altar and is called Santa Maria in Punta ( brought from the church of that name after its closing), revered at the patroness of the town. Next to this church in Budva, a large basilica from a the early Middle Ages, built probably in the 5th century.

 

 

THE CITADEL

At the highest point in the Old Town rises the Citadel, sheltered on all sides by high walls. It stands in the place of the Hellenic acropolis. Its present day looks date from the time of the Austrian adaption in 1836. One enters the Citadel through its barracks. Its courtyard is adapted for the performances in the “Grad Teatar” Festival when the best theatrical plays from Montenegro and the region are performed on this stage. The ruins of the Church Santa Maria di Castello can also be found here, of which only one wall with medieval frescoes remains.

 

MUNICIPAL  MUSEUM

The museum is situated in a stately stone edifice in south-eastern corner of this town. The ground floor is dedicated to temporary exhibitions, the first and the second floor present the archaeological finding from the era of the town’s founding, the Roman and medieval period, while the exhibits on the last floor depict the life of town families and of peasants from the surrounding area. The most important of the exhibits are surely those from Greek and Roman eras such their jewelry, poetry , extraordinary well preserved flasks of all types and a coin collection.

 

STEFAN MITROV LJUBIŠA MEMORIAL HOME

Ljubiša (1824-1878) was a writer and a Serb patriot who rose to the position of the head of the Dalmatian parliament and became one of the most influential figures amongst both the Orthodox and Catholics in Boka Kotorska and the rest of littoral. He is even known as a writer of stories dealing with subjects of local history and colored strongly by local folklore and language. The exhibitions in the house where he was born presents copies of archival documents on his life, original editions of his works as well as news articles and testimonies from the later era about his life and work. Next door to the Memorial Home ( up the steps) is the Gallery of Modern Art ( Moderna galerija) which houses temporary exhibitions of contemporary Montenegrin artists.

 

ANCIENT NECROPOLIS

During the digging of the foundations of “Avala”, Budva’s firs hotel, in 1938 the workers came across a foundation of a Roman necropolis. Later excavations showed that it lay above the Illyrian-Grrek one, while the oldest layer is a burial sight from the Neolithic. The best preserved tombstones found here and large Roman mosaic can been seen in the green area between hotels “Avala” and “Mogren” facing the Land Gate.

At the beginning of Slovenska obala, a promenade parallel to the coast, stands the bust of Stefan Mitrov Ljubiša, a work of Slovenian sculptor Lojze Dolinar from 1935. After their defeat in Brajići above Budva in July of 1941, the Italian occupying forces first ceremonially shot the bust and then pulled it down.

 

PODMAINE MONASTERY

Until a decade ago this monastery stood solemnly on the slopes of the first hill to the west of Budva but due to the rapid expansion of the town today it is well inside its limits. To reach this monastery by car is the best to take Žrtava fašizma St. and ( if coming from the west i.e. the Old Town) after crossing the bridge over the small Grdjevica River to turn left at the first intersection; proceed following the wooden signs.

The monastery ( alternatively also called Podostrog) and surrounding area belonging to Maine clan were the spurt of Montenegrin territory closest to Budva until 1837 when Njegoš following many years of pressure sold it to the Austrians and thus regulated the border with the Habsburg Empire which was then reestablished on top of the first mountains. It is known who when founded this monastery but we know that it was renewed in 1630. Enjoying mild, Mediterranean climate it was popular with metropolitans of Cetinje, especially during winters. Vladika Danilo, the main character of Njegoš’s “Mountain Wreath” , spent here his last days; his body lay here until 1856 when it was carried to Cetinje and buried on Orlov krš. It was also one of the residences dearest to Njegoš who wrote here several of his books. The Austrians used it as a barracks and a prison.

Podmaine has two churches. The large one standing in the middle of its stone-paved courtyard was built in the mid 18th century by metropolitans Sava and Vasilije. It is built in rows of white and reddish stone and has a large cupola with small windows. Its west face has richly decorated portal while above it stands a nice rose window. The interior is decorated with new fresco paintings. The older church is actually a small underground chapel beneath the monk’s dwellings and was constructed at the time of monastery’s renewal in 1630. Inside it one can see quite damaged frescos from the period of its construction. On the other side of the dwellings is a large terrace with a view of the fields of Budva, built on the level with the monastery’ walls. On the west side there is small tower and stone well decorated with reliefs of a two headed eagle, a lion and a cherubim’s head.

 

SVETI NIKOLA ISLE

The isle, called after the church of St Nicholas, standing on its west promontory, is a wedge like piece of rock closing the bay of Budva. The side facing land has several small coves but the ground then steeply rises to the highest peak of 120m above the sea level, from where one can enjoy a panoramic view of the whole of the Budva riviera. Practically covered in lush greenery known from many rare plant species, among them is unique kind of wild lily called Lilium buthuense. It is inhabited by doves and mouflon. The small St Nicholas church is first recorded on a drawing of Budva from the 16th c. but it is possible that it predates this portrayal. Until 1836 the gravestones can still be seen around it. The vicinity is much merrier: the lone dock and restaurant “Hawaii” whose name is now synonymic with the whole island. The elongated beach in front of the church is attended by boats coming from Slovenska plaža and other parts of Budva.

 

ENVIROS

South of Budva and almost joined with it is the resort of Bečići known for its sea of fantastic blue colour and long sandy beach that has been voted as one the finest in the Mediterranean as far back as 1937. At the side closer to Budva is a group of hotels , led in grandeur by the recently renovated “Splendid” . On the other side of the beach is the tourist village of Rafailovići with old stone houses adjoined by hotels and several well-known restaurants. On the beach there are facilities for water sports and tennis courts. After final demarcation with Montenegro in 1841, Austria decided to secure its maritime possessions with a series of fortifications. One of the most impressive among these is Kosmač, located in the village of Brajići (11km from Budva), on the highway towards Cetinje. The derelict fort was was built with large stone blocks with loopholes for cannons. Kosmač was attacked in the 1869 insurrection by Brajići clan but was never taken. The importance given to it can to seen from the fact that it was visited in 1875 by Emperor Franz Joseph.

 

CADMUS AND THE ILLYRIANS

Cadmus was a son of the Phoenician king Agenor. When Zeus kidnapped his daughter Europa, Agenor sent his son to find her. During his search Cadmus came to the Delphi oracle where he was advised to give up and instead established a town at the place where a cow with half moon on both sides of her things lies down exhausted. Cadmus did so and founded  Thebes on that spot. After he killed the serpent guarding the nearby springs he sawed off its teeth from which sprang armed men who started killing each other until only five remained, until only five remained, from which descend the noble families of Thebes. However, the dragon was sacred to Ares finishing this he was given Harmonia (daughter of Ares and Aphrodite)as a wife. Hephaestus was enraged since Harmonia, the daughter of his wife and lover, received so much attention from the other gods. He therefore presented her with a necklace which brought many misfortunes to Cadmus and his family in future years. In the end Cadmus decided to leave Thebes for Illyria, barbaric land to the north of Greece. Seated on an oxcart Cadmus and Harmonia reached the tribe of Enheleans who, as advised by Dionysus, chose them for their rulers. Under their leadership the Enheleans overcame other Illyrian tribes and Cadmus became their king and also founded several towns , amongst them Buthoa, modern-day Budva ( supposedly named after the oxen-bous in old Greek-that brought them there). Reflecting on his life, Cadmus one day lamented that if the gods where so vengeful of him killing a serpent, he would like to become one himself. This wish was granted to him and he was turned into a black snake with blue spots. Harmonia decided to follow her husband and in their honor Illyrians built a temple where snakes were worshiped.

 

 

Montenegro Hostel Team 

 

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