TOP-50 interesting facts about Montenegro and Montenegrins
Montenegro is a country in south-eastern Europe in the west of the Balkan Peninsula that shares many similarities with its neighbours. However, at the same time, it is a unique country, with its own customs, history and culture. In this article, we have collected 50 fascinating facts about this country and its people, which will help to form a first impression and to plan your holiday in Montenegro in an interesting way.
50 most interesting facts about Montenegrins and Montenegro
So, let’s begin our journey through the history, traditions and sights of this amazing country.
1. The first traces of man on the territory of modern Montenegro date back 1.8-1.5 million years.
2. At the turn of the Roman Empire, this land belonged to the historic region of Dalmatia.
3. In the 6th century A.D. the Slavs, the future indigenous people of Montenegro, came to the lands near the Adriatic Sea.
4. The Slavic state of Duklja was not independent for long, and soon recognized the powerful Byzantium as its suzerain. Directly on the territory of modern Montenegro was then the principality of Zeta.
5. The first mention of the name Montenegro as a state dates back to 1376.
6. This land got its name from the evergreen forested slopes of Mount Lovcen, which towered over the sea. In Europe, the country is better known as Montenegro, but Montenegrins call it Crna Gora.
7. From the 15th century, these lands were under the rule of the Ottoman Empire until 1796, when Montenegrins defeated the Turks and became a de facto independent state.
8. The emperor of Russia Paul I supported the Montenegrins in every way. He gave them 1000 chenin each year for the needs of the country.
9. Until 1852 Montenegro was a church state. It was ruled by metropolitans and lords. The country’s first secular prince was Danilo.
10. In the 20th century, Montenegro was in alliance with Serbia, became part of the federal Yugoslavia, and only gained independence in 2006.
11. Modern Montenegro is the smallest Slavic state in Europe, both in terms of area and population.
12. Montenegro has been an EU candidate since 2010 and a NATO member since 2016.
13. The country does not have its own currency. The euro is officially used in Montenegro. But the republic itself has no right to the emission of money and is forced to use imported from other countries euros.
14. Montenegro is a secular state, but most of the population is orthodox. This tradition has been preserved since the Byzantine period, when the local principalities were vassal princedoms.
15. The capital of Montenegro, Podgorica, used to be called Titograd. It is now the main political and economic centre of the country. There is an international airport and a railway junction.
16. In modern Montenegro, there are two alphabets: Cyrillic and Latin. Any document can be written in one of these alphabets, and even signboards are often made in two copies.
Legends and stories of Montenegro
17. Legend has it that the town of Bodvu was founded by the son of the Phoenician king Cadmo, who settled in the area with his wife Harmony after his exile. They arrived by ox cart and founded the settlement.
18. The town of Ulcinj was a pirate base on the Adriatic in the Middle Ages. Legend has it that countless sunken treasures are hidden in the sea near this town.
19. Another legend has it that the writer Cervantes was a prisoner in Ulcinj. It was here that he began plotting the novel of Don Quixote and saw the beautiful Dulcinea in his dreams.
20. In the sea near Petrovac there is the tiny island of St. Week. According to legend, the old church on the island was built by a shipwrecked Greek sailor.
21. Legend has it that during the Ottoman domination, when the Orthodox Church was under persecution, the Vladyka, the head of the church, would personally visit the homes of simple Montenegrins and convince people not to abandon the true faith.
22. The old town of Kotor is considered the pearl of Montenegro. It preserves old buildings from the beginning of the AD, cobbled streets and colourful churches, and its fortress lookout offers a marvellous view of the sea. It is a UNESCO cultural heritage site.
23. Kotor has one of the narrowest streets in the world, which locals call «Let me through». Its width in some places does not exceed 50 centimetres, so it is difficult to separate even for people.
24. In the Bay of Cotorska is a tiny island with the Church of Our Lady. It is a popular tourist attraction.
25. In the Lovcen National Park there is the mausoleum of the ruler Petar Negos. The viewpoint on the mausoleum offers a stunning view of the surrounding mountains.
26. One of the most revered and holy places in Montenegro is the Ostrog Monastery. It is a rock monastery, located at an altitude of 900 meters. There are relics of St. Basil of Ostrog, one of the patrons of Montenegro.
27. Another attraction is the Old Town of Bara. It is an open-air museum with ancient churches, towers and an amphitheatre.
28. Cetinje monastery is one more sacred place of the country. It preserves unique relics: the right hand of John the Baptist, fragments of the Holy Cross, and others.
29. Durmitor and Piva Parks are home to stunning necropolises of the ancient Bogomil people. They are called «stecks» and they are stone tombstones decorated with ornaments and inscriptions.
Character and customs of Montenegrins
30. Montenegrins are very joyful people, who love songs, dances and noisy celebrations. That is why there are many festivals, one of the most popular is the «Festival of Mimosa» in the city of Herceg Novi.
31. The national dance of Montenegrins is the «oro». It is danced without music.
32. The folk instrument here is the gusli. The gusliars were held in high esteem and honour. It was believed that without the psaltery there is no real conversation.
33. Montenegrins are very hospitable people. In their house, the best place is always given to the guest. It was customary to shake hands even with women when meeting them, and it was considered bad form to visit without gifts.
34. The favourite beverage of Montenegrins is coffee. They drink it during the day and in the evening. But the assortment of teas is very scarce.
35. Montenegrins are considered to be one of the tallest nations in Europe. The average height of its inhabitants is 183 centimeters.
36. In ancient times, it was customary in the country to appoint a female infant as a boy. This was done if there were no male heirs in the family. Such girls were called «Virginians», they wore men’s clothes and did men’s work. And in the event of war they went to fight on equal footing with men.
37. It is customary in the country for newlyweds to exchange their vows of allegiance under the olive tree. After the wedding, the wife will go to live at her husband’s house.
38. After the birth of a child, the happy father is obliged to get drunk with his friends, and they must tear his shirt to shreds.
39. After marriage, Montenegrin men prefer to take care of their beauty, shifting all work, including earning money, to women.
40. It is customary in the country to make huge bonfires near churches not on Shrovetide but on Christmas. Oak logs are burned in them, symbolizing the piece of wood given by the shepherds to Joseph for the fire on the day Jesus was born.
41. Despite the telling name, Montenegro is not a mountainous country. Most of it is situated on a relatively flat plateau. The prevailing altitudes here are between 500 and 1,000 meters above sea level.
42. The eastern part of the country is the mountainous country of the North Albanian Alps. Heights of 2,000 meters prevail here. Montenegrins themselves call these mountains «Prokletije».
43. The mountains of the Republic are covered with dense forests. On the coast the forests are evergreen broadleaved forests, in the east there are coniferous forests with a predominance of pines.
44. Despite the small size of the country, there are 29 lakes, mostly of glacial origin. The largest lake is Skadar, with an area of 390 square kilometres. It is surrounded by a national park.
45. The longest river in the country is the Tara, which cuts a deep canyon in the Dinaric highlands, one of the natural wonders of Montenegro. It is the largest canyon in Europe, 78 km long and up to 1300 meters deep.
46. The most unusual river in the country is Boyana or Buna. It can flow in either direction. When a strong wind blows from the sea, it forces the waters to flow away from the mouth of the river. Bojana is also famous for the triangular island at its mouth. It is the only such island in the Adriatic.
47. The Bay of Kotor is the largest bay of the Adriatic Sea. It is a long and winding bay with picturesque towns with old stone houses and bell towers on its shores. The Bay of Kodori is also called the southernmost fjord in Europe.
48. Olive groves are considered the trademark of the Republic. Many trees grow here, more than 1,000 years old. In the village of Mirovica there is an olive tree whose trunk girth exceeds 10 meters. It is considered to be the oldest tree in the country.
49. Montenegrin’s beaches are considered to be the most beautiful in Europe. Ulcinj has the biggest beach in the country, with a capacity of 100 thousand people. Its area is 600 thousand square meters, and it is not called the Great Beach for nothing.
50. Montenegro is not only beautiful beaches, but also ski resorts. There are several ski centres, the most famous and popular of which are Zabljak and Savin Kuk.
Friends! If you know more interesting facts about Montenegrins and Montenegro, please share them in the comments. This country is full of amazing stories, culture and traditions and many would be delighted to learn something new. We would be very grateful!