Set in the southern Mediterranean, Montenegro has been called the “Hidden Pearl of the Mediterranean.” The reasons are simple and plentiful: From miles of clean white sand beaches on the coast to rugged mountains inlaid with deep river canyons that run clear and swift in the interior. Montenegro’s impressive natural beauty is complimented by the fantastic preservation of historical medieval buildings that make its visitors feel as though they were stepping back into a lost age.
Montenegro is reopening its doors to travel and tours after achieving political independence from communist Russia and Yugoslavia. Only over the last ten years has this country regained international recognition for its beauty and unique culture, having earned the important title of “World Natural and Historical Heritage Site,” by UNESCO. While on a Montenegro cruise you will be able to see many examples of preserved cathedrals, palaces, villas, and even houses that date back to the medieval and baroque periods.
Not only does Montenegro have a unique culture but also an impressive array of stunning mountains, beautifully clear rivers, and abundant wildlife. These traits have made Montenegro one of the most popular travel destinations in the world, so it may not be hidden for too long.
Serbia & Montenegro Ancient History
Long before a Montenegro cruise was popular, the areas around the Adriatic Sea, including Montenegro, were an important part of the Mediterranean trade routes, and have been inhabited for centuries. Some of the earliest records of inhabitants for this region date back to the Greeks, living in colonies along the coast of the Adriatic Sea, in the 6th and 7th century B.C. Around the 3rd century B.C. a group of people called the Illyrians inhabited the seaboard of the Adriatic Sea, forming a diverse mixture of colonists, and traders. As the Roman and Byzantine Empires came into power they divided their territories along the modern region of Montenegro.
The Slavs arrived and took power in the middle of the 7th century, migrating inwards from the Bay of Kotor. At this time there was a large mixture of Slavs, Latinized Romans, Byzantine villages, and some Illyrian descendants along the coastal trade areas. By the 10th century the Bulgarians were thrown into the mix, exerting control over the land, but their rule was short lived. In the 11th century Stefan Nemanja united all of the ancient Serbian lands under one independent state, taking on the name of Serbs and the Serbian Orthodox religion.
In 1360 the Republic of Zeta was formed, resembling the boundaries of modern day Montenegro. In 1516 the secular prince Đurađ IV Crnojević abdicated to Archbishop Vavil who formed Montenegro into a theocratic state. This style of rule under god continued until the 1850’s when Prince Danilo I transformed the state into a secular principality. Prince Danilo’s rule was short-lived. He was assassinated in 1860, replaced by Nicholas I, who pushed Montenegro into the modern era.
Serbia & Montenegro Modern History
When Nicholas I came to power in 1860, Montenegro’s borders had been shrinking. In response, Nicholas I declared war on Turkey, successfully doubling Montenegro’s territory, and received international recognition as an independent nation. In 1905 the first constitution was adopted and by 1910 Nicholas I had been elevated to the status of King. The Balkan War of 1912-13, initiated the undoing of Nicholas I reign, as he tried incorporating large populations that had no allegiance to the king or Montenegro.
By the outbreak of World War I in 1914, the Austro-German forces captured Montenegro, while Nicholas I fled the country never to regain power. Montenegro suffered heavily in WWI by the greatly superior numbers of the Central Powers, and remained in their control until the end of the war. By 1918, Serbian forces liberated Montenegro uniting the two nations as one. Visitors enjoying Montenegro travel will be interested to learn that Montenegro was the only Allied Nation to lose its independence after WWI.
In WWII they joined the Allied Forces and fought heavily for their liberation, winning their freedom after the war and becoming established as a Republic of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. This union greatly benefited Montenegro, who began receiving federal funds as an under developed republic, which allowed for the development of Montenegro as tourist destination.
Montenegro remained under Yugoslavia influence until its breakup in 1992. After the breakup leaders of the old Communist party covertly re-packaged their party under a democratic title, and has remained in power to this day. The turbulent years and wars of the 1990’s throughout the region have greatly affected Montenegro and its people. After years of war and struggle the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia renamed itself as Serbia and Montenegro in 2003. This loose state union lasted only until 2006 when Montenegro held a public referendum for independence. Montenegro finally declared its independence on June 3, 2006.
Explore the beautifully preserved historic cities of Serbia & Montenegro
With traces of archeological foundations dating back to the 6th century, the country is filled with unique and impressive historical sites to explore during a Montenegro cruise. Situated along the Adriatic Sea, Montenegro has been home to many traders, sailors, and famous people all with a different story to tell. The country’s rich cultural heritage, along with its impressive natural beauties, makes it an extremely popular destination for travel.
The city of Kotor is especially rich in historic castles, Medieval palaces, and numerous cathedrals. These various cultural sites has made Kotor a “World Natural and Historical Heritage Site,” by UNESCO. The most impressive and popular site within the city is the Sveti Tripun Cathedral, named after the city’s protector Saint Tripun, and was built in the 12th century. There are also dozens of other beautiful cathedrals, palaces, and villas within the city. The city itself is surrounded by a stonewall fortification, and is situated right along the coast, at the base of Mount Lovcen. Most of the city was built between the 12th and the 14th centuries, and is characterized by both the Renaissance and the Baroque periods. Throughout the city there are elegant examples of the Baroque Period, which was defined by lavish decorations, and extravagance. Even in some of the houses, you can still see some beautiful stone carvings and windows that date back to this period. Montenegro, and Kotor specifically, offer its visitors on a Montenegro cruise some of the most well preserved historical sites from the Middle Ages, which makes it an irresistible destination for any traveler.
Geographical Discovery on a Serbia & Montenegro Tour
Montenegro has often been referred to as the “Hidden Pearl of the Mediterranean,” because of its beautiful sandy beaches along the coast of the Adriatic Sea, with sharp rising mountains that plunge abruptly into the inlet of the Gulf of Kotor, giving the perfect backdrop to this historic region. While on a Montenegro tour explore some of the region’s rugged terrain. Considered the most extreme in all of Europe, the country has peaks spiking upwards of 8000 feet, and swift clean and clear rivers that cut deep gorges out of the limestone.
After many years of wars and political upheaval Montenegro has peacefully separated from Serbia and is recovering its former place in the travel world. Montenegro also borders Kosovo and Albania to the east, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia to the west and north. With 14,000 square km this country is only a little smaller than Connecticut, but boasts upwards of 180 miles of coastline, that is dotted with sandy beaches and abundant sub-tropical vegetation. The Bay of Kotor is one of the three major ports, and one of the best-preserved historic towns in the Mediterranean. Behind the coast is a small strip of coastal plain that’s backed by rugged high limestone mountains and plateaus. Deep with in these mountains are impressive rivers that drop rapidly in elevation and are unpolluted, making them the perfect place for rafting, kayaking, fishing, and other water sports.
A Serbia & Montenegro Tour and Discovery of Beautiful Landscapes
Montenegro was once an extremely popular tour destination in the Mediterranean because of its beautiful beaches and rugged mountains, but years of war have destroyed Montenegro’s infrastructure. Peace has returned and travelers are once again returning in increasing numbers making a Montenegro tour one of the most popular options for European travel. A trip to Montenegro offers its visitors scenery of steep backdrop mountains that plunge into a rich historic part of the Mediterranean.
The coast offers almost 50 miles of sandy beaches, but extends for almost 180 miles. The beaches are set in a sub-tropical environment with abundant flora and fauna. Being situated along the Mediterranean the summers are warm and dry. The rivers are deep, clean, and swift making them perfect for fishing or rafting. With this impressive beauty and rich environmental attractions Montenegrins are beginning to realize the need for conservation and sustainable travel. The government, however, has not recognized these issues as a high priority, and the rapid expansion of tourism is imposing a risk to the more popular coastal destinations. Montenegro also faces problems with a weak infrastructure and obsolete road networks. This incredible terrain is in jeopardy, but fortunately concerned individuals are forcing the government to make conservation and environmental reform a higher priority.
Enjoy the Local Cuisine on a Serbia & Montenegro tour
The food you will find on a Montenegro tour today has been influenced heavily by the Italians, and this can be tasted in the way they prepare their breads, cure meats, make cheese, and wine. A typical cold Antipasto is presented to visiting guests in homes, which includes local Prosciutto, smoked salami, dried mutton, Njeguši and Pljevlja cheeses. Lunch in Montenegro is the largest and most important meal of the day. Lunch is usually served with either a clear soup or a thicker stew with chicken, beef, or lamb for the broth. Bread, Panne di Casa style, is served with every meal.
Since Montenegro is situated along the Adriatic coast in the Mediterranean you can expect to sample a plentiful varieties of seafood while on a tour of Montenengro. You will encounter everything from fresh water trout to seafood dishes like squid, octopus, tuna, prawns, mussels, or smoked and dried varieties, such as, bleak or carp fish. Lamb is also a staple meat, which is boiled or cooked in milk and served with potatoes.
A famous Montenegrin dish that has been served for over 2000 years is Raštan. Raštan is a slightly bitter dark green vegetable from the cabbage family, which is boiled into a stew and combined with delicious smoked pork ribs. There are also many local varieties of these foods, each prepared slightly different, but lending to the unique and appetizing foods of Montenegro.
Politics of Serba & Montenegro
If you plan a Montenegro tour today, the Republic of Montenegro is currently defined by its constitution as “a democratic, welfare, and ecological state.” The democratic rule by the Montenegrin people has only recently been started after the toppling of the Soviet empire. Montenegro remained under Yugoslavia influence until its breakup in 1992, initiating almost a decade of civil strife and local wars. In 2003 The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia renamed itself as Serbia and Montenegro in a loose state union. This union was demolished in June of 2006 when Montenegro voted to withdraw from Serbia and become fully independent. Today, the current government system includes a Prime Minister, other deputy prime ministers and ministers. The president is elected to a five year term through direct and secret ballots, while the Parliament passes all laws, ratifies international treaties, and appoints the Prime Minister as well as the other Ministers. The current ruling party is The Democratic Party of Socialists of Montenegro, with Milo Đukanović as the current Prime Minister and Filip Vujanović serving as the current President.
Weather in Serbia & Montenegro
Situated in the Mediterranean and the southern Adriatic Sea, Montenegro has a wide variety of weather from the warmer coastal areas, to the cooler continental region in the north. If you plan a Montenegro cruise in the north, expect a continental climate zone with cold winters and heavy snowfall. The north has humid summers with ample precipitation. In the Mediterranean climate zone the summers and autumns are hot and dry, while the winters are cooler but not like the northern region. Summer then, is the perfect time to visit the beautiful Mediterranean beaches and coastal areas while winter is the perfect time for visitors to ski and enjoy the higher altitudes and heavy snowfall.
Experience the Wild Side of a Serbia & Montenegro Trip
Situated along the Adriatic coast, Montenegro has a blend of Mediterranean and Continental climate zones, and extreme altitude differences from the coast to the high mountain elevations. For this reason, a trip to Montenegro offers its visitors fantastic opportunities to view pristine forests and a variety of mammals and birds. There are four nationally protected parks in this small country so there are thousands of acres of uncut forest fir trees, and black pine with some over 500 years old.
During a Montenegro trip, you can see various types of hares, pheasants, deer, stag, wild boar, fox, chamois, and wolves. There is also a large diversity in the species of migratory birds with everything from the rare curly pelican to golden eagles, and white little egret, white spoonbill, cranes, and various species of mallards.
Fishing in Montenegro is not only a way of life but also a treasured sport that offers its visitors a unique opportunity to fish lakes, rivers, and the sea. In the lakes you can find Saran, bleak, gurnard, while in the rivers you can find trout and chub, but out in the open seawater you can finish for San Pier, sea perch, red porgie, mullet, lobsters, shrimps, squid and even octopus. With such varied habitat zones in such a small region, Montenegro is becoming the focus of many scientific, and biological research groups.