Montenegro in Three Days
You may have heard of Montenegro in passing, after all, it is part of the European experience. Some describe it as a miniscule stretch of nothing, a cultural inlet of little consequence when held up against international tourist attractions – it doesn’t have the profile of France or Italy, even Croatia is furlongs ahead of this forgotten paradise, fast becoming somewhere to be seen and to see. So why Montenegro? Though a national road-trip would only set you back a day, small packages contain memorable surprises and this 100km stretch of picturesque sights, isolated fishing villages, friendly people and warm waters is no exception. If you’re imagining scatterings of broken down shacks and vacant eyed locals, you have the wrong idea; instead, the old world towns are walled with memories and stone, jutting out of a sapphire dyed Adriatic Sea. Do you need a magical experience? Something to start a blog over or brag to your friends on Facebook? Montenengro doesn’t need rolling valleys or mega-cities to be the best place in Europe to lose yourself within; it’s authentic, jubilant and on the door step of true adventure. Will you cross the threshold?
Cetinje is of enourmous significance to the people of Montenegro; commonly dubbed the historic and spiritual capital, Cetinje is surrounded by towering limestone mountains and pockets of timeless culture, including the 14th century Vlaska church and a centre of Serbian religion, the Cetinje monastery. A slap dash mix of architecture, history and commerce, older buildings and embassies are now used as schools and museums, gently nodding toward the respect locals hold for preserving tradition and generally not wasting what is already there, as most building facades are quite striking. No visit to Cetinje is complete without a 400 stair climb to the summit of Mount Lovćen, as a clear day and a decent level of fitness will reward adventure seekers with a mind boggling view of Montenegro and the Adriatic coast.
Monastery Ostrog is a bewildering feat of human invention and fortitude, located on the edge of the Bjelopavliv plain, a smooth fifty kilometres outside Podgorica. Before you fall asleep from historical overload (unless you love history, then you’ll just about jump out of your skin in anticipation), Ostrog is unlike any other religious site in the world. Imagine a building carved into a vertical cliff face and furnished with elegant, pre-Gothic design…Ostrog transforms ambitious day dreams into a reality, featuring a cave walled chapel and intricate frescoes capturing the essence of the caves and merging nature with Serbian Orthodox Christianity. Though you may not be Christian, hundreds of thousands of pilgrims tick the Ostrog monastery off their bucket list every year, desiring the close communion with either nature of a higher power in this marvel of ingenuity.
Take a step back in time and explore 12th century romanticism without leaving the comforts of modern day Montenegro behind. Kotor is a historical city balanced on the banks of a turquoise bay. Though Australia’s Southern city Adelaide may be known as the City of Churches, Kotor steal the prize with its concentration of historical monuments to Christianity, from the Roman walls of the Cathedral of Saint Tryphon, to the 13th century Church of Sveta Ana or the 12th century masterpiece of Sveta Marija. The streets come alive with spiritual fanfare, as a number of religious festivals lighten the atmosphere and a true sense of Montenegrin frivolity rises to the surface.