Europe

Montenegro

 Crna-gora-zastava The flag of Montenegro was officially adopted on 13 July 2004  and sanctioned with the proclamation of the Constitution on 22 October 2007.  It is a red banner with broader golden edges all around the red field with the coat of arms of Montenegro in its center. The charge is a two-headed eagle which is a symbol of Byzantine and ultimately Roman origin. It symbolises dual authority, such as that over the church and state and the eagle holds a golden scepter in its right claw and a blue orb in its left. The lion passant on the escutcheon is as a sign of episcopal authority and could have been inspired by the metaphor of the Lion of Judah.

Montenegro* is an independent and sovereign state, with the republican form of government. It is located in the South-eastern Europe, along the Adriatic Sea; bordering to Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo and Albania.

Area         : 13.812 sq km
Population: 653.474 (July 2013 est.)
Language : Montenegrin**
Currency  : Euro

 map

*   The name comes from Italian and it is Crna Gora in Montenegrin and Black Mountain in English.
** Serbian, Bosniac, Albanian and Croatian are also in the official use, and Cyrillic and Latin alphabet deemed to be equal by constitution.

Arrivals to Montenegro via air can be made either through Podgorica or Tivat Airports. Although mountains make transportation exhausting there are many connecting roads to nearby cities and neighbouring countries. There are buses and trains, but as time is valuable I suggest you to rent a car for a comprehensive trip within the country.

History

9 AD – Roman annexation of the region incorporates most of present-day Montenegro into the province of Dalmatia.
990   – Slav state of Duklja established.
1190 – Successor state of Zeta annexed by Serbia.
1499 – Ottoman Empire controls the interior and Venetian Empire controls the coast.
1697 – Petrović clan assumes control after Ottomans retreat.
1797 – Venice falls to Napoleon, who transfers the Gulf of Kotor to Austrian rule.
1878 – Montenegro granted independence following the Congress of Berlin.
1918 – Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes formed, incorporating Montenegro.
1929 – Montenegro becomes part of the new Kingdom of Yugoslavia.
1945 – Tito becomes prime minister (president from 1953) and Podgorica renamed Titograd.
1991 – Break-up of Yugoslavia; Montenegro votes to stay with Serbia in referendum.
2006 – A second referendum brings independence to Montenegro.   

Geography

 5 I think it is apt to state that Montenegro has two different offerings in broader sense: inner parts and coast line. Therefore, it also has two different climate regions. While Mediterranean climate prevails at coast line; hot dry summers and autumns and relatively cold winters with heavy snowfalls occur at inland. As it is seen from the model on the left (which is exhibited at next to Biliarda), life is challenging at inner parts due to steep mountains and harsh conditions. On the other hand coast line is appealing based on fjord-like bays, beaches, old towns, bars and restaurants.

The Interior

The capital city is Podgorica and according to 2011 census, population of this largest city is 156.169. In contemporary history the city had also been known as Titograd from 1946 to 1992 during the existence of SFR Yugoslavia.  Having said that, the Constitution also mentions “The Old Royal Capital of Montenegro shall be Cetinje” and the presidential seat still remains in Cetinje. After visiting five museums there, I believe that this reference is very appropriate. These museums can be visited with one single ticket which costs €10,00 per person and museums are namely;

  1. Palace of King Nicola
  2. Ethnographic Museum
  3. Njegoš’s Museum (Biliarda)
  4. History Museum
  5. Art Museum

Whole sight-seeing in central Cetinje will not take you more than half an hour, but visiting above mentioned museums will definitely change your schedule and perceptions.

Presidential seat

Museums district

In adition to Lovćen, two other destinations at interior are: Lake Skadar and Durmitor National Park. Skadar is the largest lake in the Balkans and a walk along it or biking are suggested activities, if not just lie down and relax the fresh air. When it comes to Durmitor, it is the most scenic place in inland Montenegro with dozens of 2.000-meter-plus peaks drop down to the spectacular Tara Canyon. Durmitor is a hive of skiing, hiking, camping, rafting and far more activities.

The Coast Line

On a hot summer day, after a tiring trip even seeing the coast line from above the mountains will make you feel better. Especially, if you are indulged to nature, fjord types, bays and picturesque towns. From north to south coast line is 293,5 km long and on this direction Herceg Novi, Kotor, Budva, Bar and Ulcinj are places to see.

kotor

Bay of Kotor

 

A view from Old Town

Kotor reminded me little bit of Croatia’s islands and city of Dubrovnik in a smaller scale. Kotor has the best preserved medieval old town in Adriatic sea and is a UNESCO world heritage site. The atmosphere of old town, maze of cobbled alleyways and definitely delicious seafood are among the things that make it special in my opinion. Of course, I have to mention here the joy of delicious ice-cream and strong coffee. For Budva, it is seen as the most popular one by locals and tourists. There are lots of cafés, bars, restaurants and limestone houses. Beaches are not sandy, but sea is clear and seafront bars are enticing for a cold drink in a hot summer day.

Food and Vines

As interior differs a lot from the coast line, it is inevitable to have two distinct kitchens. For the interior part; climate, geography and habits comprise of a stronger culture. Belveder Nacionalni Restoran, which is located on the way to Podgorica, has a rich menu, and great product and service quality.

belveder 1

Nutritious homemade breads of rye (ražani) and corn (rumetinov) are served with Njeguški pršut and cheese. For the soups there are chicken (kokošija), beef (goveđa/juneća/teleća) and lamb (jagnjeća) soup options and I have to remind that soups can be clear (supa/juha) or dense (čorba). As a main dish, roasted meat in a special oven with special pots (pečenje ispod sača) and salad accompanied to it will be a great choice. Lastly, don’t forget to try the Montenegrin pancakes (Crnogorske palačinke) as a desert.
belveder

 galion On the other side of the coin, coast line will make you happy with tasty seafood varieties. I can recommend Restoran Galion at the Kotor, Old Town overlooking the Bay of Kotor. Fresh and delicious products are served in a well decorated manner in this place will make a dinner more of a joy. From left to write, starters with shrimp and mussel, black squid ink risotto, sea bass and sea bream with vegetables and shrimp, followed by a chocolate cake was a great combination.
 1  2  3  4

And a final word about the Montenegrin wines… Many vineyards are located in the southern and coastal regions. There are various grape types being cultivated and Krstač, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Vranac are among these. Krstač is an ancient variety of grape that is indigenous to Serbia and Montenegro. A high quality dry white wine is made of it. The wine may be rich, of harmonious bouquet and of light yellow colour with 12.5% alcohol. Vranac is an ancient variety of grape that is indigenous to the Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro. Vranac is considered the most important variety of grape in Montenegro, and it produces a dry red wine of a unique taste.

After a wine tasting I performed in Kotor Old Town, I come up with the decision that “Vranac Barrique” is distinct from other matches. The wine had an intense red colour and the complex flavour was enriched by cherry, blackberry and blueberry notes. And in the base notes oak smell was fervent, but not dominant. On the palate, I can say that it was possible to feel the harmony and balance of these mixes. When it comes to body, it was round and soft with pleasant tannin existence.

Ergun UNUTMAZ, 05/07/2013


I would like to express my gratitude to OECD SIGMA delegation for organising a conference at Montenegro. Because if this opportunity would not arise, it might take me a longer time to discover this amenities, and I also would like to thank Aida and Boban for their hosipitality and patience.  


References:

Rough Guide to Europe, February 2010, p.784.
CIA World Factbook
Photos by Ergun UNUTMAZ
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Podgorica
http://belveder.me/
http://www.winesofbalkans.com/index.php?balkan-states/montenegro