Cetinje cannot boast with a developed tourism infrastructure like sea resorts Budva or Kotor. As a matter of fact, it’s not a resort at all but an important a political and religious center of Montenegro. The city has a long and difficult history.
In the 15th century, during the war with the Turks, the country’s leader faced the necessity to move the capital to the remote place. Cetinje was selected for this purpose since it was hidden in a secret valley surrounded by high mountains. Nowadays it’s not very comfortable to live in a city because it’s difficult to supply food, clothing, souvenirs, etc. The town is really very small with one-story building prevailing there. There is no bus station in Cetinje but this fact does not bother the majority of travelers at all.
Cetinje reached the highest peak of its growth between 1860 and 1918. By the middle of the 20th century the town lost its status as a resort.
The authorities developed an industrial area around the town before the Second World War. Plants and factories were built in Cetinje but they didn’t survive after the collapse of Yugoslavia.
How to Get to Cetinje
You can get to Cetinje by two main roads: from Budva and Kotor. Both road are going through the mountains and are full of dangerous turns, so driving a car here is already a certain kind of attraction. These roads usually bring tourists to Cetinje, either by car or by bus. However, taking the risk to drive these roads, you will have a unique opportunity to enjoy unforgettable views of the surrounding landscapes.
Besides, on your road to Cetinje you can find a lot of places where the used cars are sold. You can examine the cars, try driving them and of course bargain a little. After the purchase a car is delivered to any city you order.
Hotels and restaurants in Cetinje
The majority of tourists come to Cetinje for one day and return back after seeing the most famous places. But if you want to stay in Cetinje for a little longer, several hotels and restaurants are at your disposal. But remember that they aren’t so luxurious as in Budva or Kotor. If you are particularly interested in the town’s history, it makes sense to stay here for two or three days.
You cannot buy special souvenirs in Cetinje, except of some standard magnets and plates. But once you visited Cetinje, it’s worth buying prshut, a ham made in a special way, grape vodka and cheese. These products, of course, are not very durable but you’ll definitely have much pleasure eating them a week later.
Sightseeing in Cetinje
There are many historical monuments in Cetinje.
Perhaps the biggest inflow of visitors to the city is provided by a local monastery. People visit it almost every day but during holidays and weekends the quantity of visitors increases exponentially. Cetinje Monastery is so famous because the right hand of St. John the Baptist is kept here. The right hand of the prophet was imposed on the head of Jesus Christ when he was baptized. The relic experienced many adventures and traveled from one country to another being saved by the Christians from various misfortunes. Having been in ancient Syria, Turkey, Russia, Greece, Egypt, having lost its little finger and ring finger (now they are in Istanbul and Siena), the right hand was finally found in Cetinje Monastery at the end of the 20th century. The first Montenegrin printing house worked in this monastery too. In 1493 it printed the first book using the South Slavonic Cyrillic script. The book can be found in the monastery museum now.
Vlashka Church (Vlaska crkva) is the oldest landmark of the town. It was built in 1405 by the local shepherds. The church is famous for its remarkable frescoes of the Greek masters as well as the church fence made of weapons taken as trophy from the Turks during the war in 1876.
Austrian map of Montenegro is a real miracle that is located not far from the Cetinje Monastery in a glass pavilion. The detailed relief map was created by the officers of the Austrian General Staff in 1917. It is so detailed that it is possible to find almost any house that was in the country at that time. This map is not so old and significant for the country’s history but it constantly attracts a lot of curious tourists trying to find the building in which they live, favorite beaches, monasteries and churches they are going to visit.
Apart from its rich religious heritage, Cetinje may be considered a cultural capital of Montenegro in general and a town of museums in particular. There are many existing museums in Cetinje nowadays. The most famous are the National Museum or the Museum of King Nikola I, the Historical Museum, the Museum of Art, the Museum of the Cetinje Monastery, Njegos Museum, the Ethnographic Museum, the People’s Museum.
The Palace of King Nikola I, who was the last leader of Montenegro from the Njegos dynasty, is a very interesting place to visit too. It was built in 1867 in a rare architecture style. Spectacular interiors now preserve exhibits of the National Museum of Montenegro telling about the dramatic history of the country.
Royal Theatre “Zetski Dom” is the oldest theater in Montenegro. It was founded in 1884 and presently is the only state-owned theater in the country.
Despite the fact that Cetinje is a small town, it has a gallery where Cetinje Biennial, an international art exhibition, is held every two years. Crnojević printing house is of particular respect among the local people because many well-known books that have contributed to the spread of Cyrillic letters in Europe were printed there.
The mausoleum of the poet and philosopher Petar Njegos is located on top of the Mount Lovcen (1660 m). It is associated with many pages of the Montenegrin history. Being yet alive, the lord ordered his people to bury him in a small chapel on the mountain’s top which provides a stunningly beautiful view of the surrounding area. The chapel was destroyed during the war but the mausoleum was built instead of the chapel to honor the memory of the outstanding son of this country. The most convenient way to get to the National Park of Mount Lovcen is from Cetinje. It takes about 30 minutes to get there by car or by bus. After that you have to go on foot and cover an impressive number of steps.