Top historic sites in Montenegro

Kotor Cathedral

The Cathedral of Saint Tryphon in Kotor is one of two Roman Catholic cathedrals in Montenegro. It was built in honor of Saint Tryphon, the patron and protector of the city, on the same site where an older church had already existed long ago. That earlier church was built in 809 by Andrija Saracenis, a citizen of Kotor, where the remains of the saint were kept after being brought from Constantinopole. The cathedral was c ...
Founded: 1166 | Location: Kotor, Montenegro

Budva Citadel

The entire town of Budva is encircled with defensive stone walls. The fortifications of Budva are typical of the Medieval walled cities of the Adriatic, complete with towers, embrasures, fortified city gates and a citadel. The Old Town of Budva is situated on a rocky peninsula, on the southern end of Budva field. Archaeological evidence suggests that Illyrian settlement was formed on the site of the Old Town before Greek ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Budva, Montenegro

Our Lady of the Rocks

Our Lady of the Rocks is one of the two islets off the coast of Perast in Bay of Kotor, Montenegro. It is an artificial island created by bulwark of rocks and by sinking old and seized ships loaded with rocks. The Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady of the Rocks is the largest building on the islet; it has a museum attached. There is also a small gift shop close to the church and a navigation light at the western end of th ...
Founded: 1452 | Location: Kotor, Montenegro

Stari Bar

The Old Town of Bar (Stari Bar) is the largest and the most important medieval archaeological site in the Balkans. It covers the area of 4.5 hectares, where the remains of around 600 public and private edifices are the proof of the existence of various construction phases present in different epochs of the Mediterranean history. The visual identity of the Old Town of Bar is formed by the ramparts, bastions, towers, a cit ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Bar, Montenegro

San Giovanni Castle

San Giovanni, also called St. John’s Castle, is perched 1200m high on the hill of St. John. The fortifications date back as far as 532 when Byzantine Emperor Justinian I had the fort built. Since it’s creation, the fort has under seen plenty of changes and battles under Venetian, Russian, and French rule. It’s been bombed by British Naval armies, occupied during World War II, and even survived three separate earthqu ...
Founded: 532 AD | Location: Kotor, Montenegro

Herceg Novi Old Town

Herceg Novi was founded (on a former small fishing village, existing since Roman Empire times) as a fortress in 1382 by first Bosnian King Stjepan Tvrtko I and was called Sveti Stefan or Castelnuovo. The Turks conquered Herceg Novi in 1482, and ruled for 200 years, until 1687. However, there was a short pause between 1538 and 1539 when it was held by the Spaniards before they were defeated in the Siege of Castelnuovo.  ...
Founded: 1382 | Location: Herceg Novi, Montenegro

King Nikola's Palace

King Nikola"s Palace served for more than 50 years as the seat of the Montenegrin Royal family. In 1926 it became a museum, from 1980 it was one of the departments of National Museum of Montenegro. The small palace was built from 1863 to 1867 in a simple style typical of Cetinje houses with certain elements of neoclassicism. The interiors were designed in style of Historicism and Art Nouveau. In the entrance hall ...
Founded: 1863 | Location: Cetinje, Montenegro

Ulcinj Old Town

Ulcinj is an ancient castle and neighborhood. Today mostly inhabited by Albanians, it was built by the Illyrians and Ancient Greeks on a small peninsula at the right side of the Pristan Gulf. Today, oldest remains are the Cyclopean Wall. The castle has been restored many times since it was first built although major changes were made by the Byzantinians, Serbs, Venetians, and Ottomans. The modern city of Ulcinj was built ...
Founded: 300 BC | Location: Ulcinj, Montenegro

Sveti Dorde Island

Ostrvo Sveti Đorđe (Island of Saint George) is one of the two islets off the coast of Perast in Bay of Kotor. A small action took place during the Siege of Cattaro on 14 October 1813 when the French held island was captured by a British and Sicilian naval force. The island contains Saint George Benedictine monastery from the 12th century and the old graveyard for the old nobility from Perast and further from the whole ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Kotor, Montenegro

Ostrog Monastery

The Monastery of Ostrog is a monastery of the Serbian Orthodox Church sitatued against an almost vertical background, high up in the large rock of Ostroška Greda. It is dedicated to Saint Basil of Ostrog, who was buried here. Ostrog monastery is the most popular pilgrimage place in Montenegro. The Monastery was founded by Vasilije, the Metropolitan Bishop of Herzegovina in the 17th century. He died there in 1671 and som ...
Founded: 1671 | Location: Bjelopavlići, Montenegro

Sveti Stefan

Sveti Stefan is a small islet in the central part of Montenegro Adriatic coast line. It was first mentioned in 1442 as a fort near seacoast from which Paštrovići, led by vojvoda Radič repulsed the forces of Stjepan Vukčić Kosača during his offensive in Zeta. According to a legend recounted by Stjepan Mitrov Ljubiša, the town fortification was funded after Paštrovići looted Turkish ships moored in front of Jaz d ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Budva, Montenegro

Cetinje Monastery

The Serbian Orthodox Cetinje Monastery was founded between 1701 and 1704 by Prince-Bishop Danilo I on the site of the former court of Ivan Crnojević (founded 1485). Cetinje was attacked by Ottomans on 25 September 1692. Instead of fighting, Venetians entered negotiations, and reached an agreement to abandon the monastery under honorable terms. However, they mined a monastery with a time bomb, which set of in the evening ...
Founded: 1701-1704 | Location: Cetinje, Montenegro

National Museum of Montenegro

National Museum of Montenegro in Cetinje is a complex institution consisting of four museums: Museum of History, the Art Museum with the Modern art gallery Dado Duric, the Ethnographic Museum and the newly founded Archaeological Museum with Lapidarium. Collection of museum exhibits on the territory of present-day Montenegro can be traced back to the ancient past. In a modern sense, however, it is possible to record the t ...
Founded: 1896 | Location: Cetinje, Montenegro

Ribnica Fortress

Ribnica is an Ottoman fortress, located in the Stara Varoš neighborhood of Podgorica, the capital city of Montenegro. The fortress was built in late 15th century (around 1477), during the period of Ottoman reign. It was built above the confluence of Ribnica and Morača rivers, and was one of two fortresses surrounding Stara Varoš. For a long time, Depedogen was used as an ammunition warehouse. It was severely damaged i ...
Founded: 1477 | Location: Podgorica, Montenegro

Miholjska Prevlaka Monastery

Miholjska prevlaka, also known as 'Island of Flowers', includes a monastery dedicated to Archangel Michael. It was founded by Serbian Archbishop Sava (s. 1219–35). The church base was built earlier, reconstructed in the 9th century and destroyed in the 11th century. The monastery was the seat of the Eparchy of Zeta between the 13th and 15th centuries. Under planned restoration, the monastery was destroyed by ...
Founded: c. 1230 | Location: Tivat, Montenegro

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte

The Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte is a baroque French château built between 1658-1661 for Nicolas Fouquet. It was made for Marquis de Belle Île, Viscount of Melun and Vaux, the superintendent of finances of Louis XIV, the château was an influential work of architecture in mid-17th century Europe. At Vaux-le-Vicomte, the architect Louis Le Vau, the landscape architect André le Nôtre, and the painter-decorator Charles Le Brun worked together on a large-scale project for the first time. Their collaboration marked the beginning of the 'Louis XIV style' combining architecture, interior design and landscape design. The garden's pronounced visual axis is an example of this style.

To secure the necessary grounds for the elaborate plans for Vaux-le-Vicomte’s garden and castle, Fouquet purchased and demolished three villages. The displaced villagers were then employed in the upkeep and maintenance of the gardens. It was said to have employed eighteen thousand workers and cost as much as 16 million livres. The château and its patron became for a short time a focus for fine feasts, literature and arts. The poet La Fontaine and the playwright Molière were among the artists close to Fouquet. At the inauguration of Vaux-le-Vicomte, a Molière play was performed, along with a dinner event organized by François Vatel, and an impressive firework show.

After Fouquet was arrested and imprisoned for life, and his wife exiled, Vaux-le-Vicomte was placed under sequestration. The king seized, confiscated or purchased 120 tapestries, the statues, and all the orange trees from Vaux-le-Vicomte. He then sent the team of artists (Le Vau, Le Nôtre and Le Brun) to design what would be a much larger project than Vaux-le-Vicomte, the palace and gardens of Versailles.

The Marshal Villars became the new owner without first seeing the chateau. In 1764, the Marshal's son sold the estate to the Duke of Praslin, whose descendants would maintain the property for over a century. It is sometimes mistakenly reported that the château was the scene of a murder in 1847, when duke Charles de Choiseul-Praslin, killed his wife in her bedroom, but this did not happen at Vaux-le-Vicomte but at the Paris residence of the Duke.

In 1875, after thirty years of neglect, the estate was sold to Alfred Sommier in a public auction. The château was empty, some of the outbuildings had fallen into ruin, and the famous gardens were totally overgrown. The huge task of restoration and refurbishment began under the direction of the architect Gabriel-Hippolyte Destailleur, assisted by the landscape architect Elie Lainé. When Sommier died in 1908, the château and the gardens had recovered their original appearance. His son, Edme Sommier, and his daughter-in-law completed the task. Today, his descendants continue to preserve the château, which remains privately owned by Patrice and Cristina de Vogüé, the Count and Countess de Vogüé. It is now administered by their three sons Alexandre, Jean-Charles and Ascanio de Vogüé. Recognized by the state as a monument historique, it is open to the public regularly.

Architecture

The chateau is situated near the northern end of a 1.5-km long north-south axis with the entrance front facing north. Its elevations are perfectly symmetrical to either side of this axis. Somewhat surprisingly the interior plan is also nearly completely symmetrical with few differences between the eastern and western halves. The two rooms in the center, the entrance vestibule to the north and the oval salon to the south, were originally an open-air loggia, dividing the chateau into two distinct sections. The interior decoration of these two rooms was therefore more typical of an outdoor setting. Three sets of three arches, those on the entrance front, three more between the vestibule and the salon, and the three leading from the salon to the garden are all aligned and permitted the arriving visitor to see through to the central axis of the garden even before entering the chateau. The exterior arches could be closed with iron gates, and only later were they filled in with glass doors and the interior arches with mirrored doors. Since the loggia divided the building into two halves, there are two symmetrical staircases on either side of it, rather than a single staircase. The rooms in the eastern half of the house were intended for the use of the king, those in the western were for Fouquet. The provision of a suite of rooms for the king was normal practice in aristocratic houses of the time, since the king travelled frequently.

Another surprising feature of the plan is the thickness of the main body of the building (corps de logis), which consists of two rows of rooms running east and west. Traditionally the middle of the corps de logis of French chateaux consisted of a single row of rooms. Double-thick corps de logis had already been used in hôtels particuliers in Paris, including Le Vau's Hôtel Tambonneau, but Vaux was the first chateau to incorporate this change. Even more unusual, the main rooms are all on the ground floor rather than the first floor (the traditional piano nobile). This accounts for the lack of a grand staircase or a gallery, standard elements of most contemporary chateaux. Also noteworthy are corridors in the basement and on the first floor which run the length of house providing privacy to the rooms they access. Up to the middle of the 17th century, corridors were essentially unknown. Another feature of the plan, the four pavilions, one at each corner of the building, is more conventional.

Vaux-le-Vicomte was originally planned to be constructed in brick and stone, but after the mid-century, as the middle classes began to imitate this style, aristocratic circles began using stone exclusively. Rather late in the design process, Fouquet and Le Vau switched to stone, a decision that may have been influenced by the use of stone at François Mansart's Château de Maisons. The service buildings flanking the large avant-cour to the north of the house remained in brick and stone, and other structures preceding them were in rubble-stone and plaster, a social ranking of building materials that would be common in France for a considerable length of time thereafter.

The main chateau is constructed entirely on a moated platform, reached via two bridges, both aligned with the central axis and placed on the north and south sides. The moat is a picturesque holdover from medieval fortified residences, and is again a feature that Le Vau may have borrowed from Maisons. The moat at Vaux may also have been inspired by the previous chateau on the site, which Le Vau's work replaced.

Gardens

The château rises on an elevated platform in the middle of the woods and marks the border between unequal spaces, each treated in a different way. This effect is more distinctive today, as the woodlands are mature, than it was in the seventeenth century when the site had been farmland, and the plantations were new.

Le Nôtre's garden was the dominant structure of the great complex, stretching nearly a mile and a half (3 km), with a balanced composition of water basins and canals contained in stone curbs, fountains, gravel walks, and patterned parterres that remains more coherent than the vast display Le Nôtre was to create at Versailles.

Le Nôtre created a magnificent scene to be viewed from the house, using the laws of perspective. Le Notre used the natural terrain to his advantage. He placed the canal at the lowest part of the complex, thus hiding it from the main perspectival point of view. Past the canal, the garden ascends a large open lawn and ends with the Hercules column added in the 19th century. Shrubberies provided a picture frame to the garden that also served as a stage for royal fêtes.

From the top of the grand staircase, this gives the impression that the entire garden is revealed in one single glance. Initially, the view consists of symmetrical rows of shrubbery, avenues, fountains, statues, flowers and other pieces developed to imitate nature – these elements exemplify the Baroque desire to mold nature to fit its wishes, thus using nature to imitate nature. The centerpiece is a large reflecting pool flanked by grottos holding statues in their many niches. The grand sloping lawn is not visible until one begins to explore the garden, when the viewer is made aware of the optical elements involved and discovers that the garden is much larger than it looks.