Ten Years of Montenegro in Podgorica
Many visitors to Montenegro head straight for the coast but Podgorica has a few points of interest worth not passing by. My stay coincided with the tenth anniversary of the country’s independence vote from Croatia. So it was a rather quiet day with celebrations in the evening.
Honestly I wasn’t sure if I’d stay in Montenegro longer but ended up just passing through it. Nevertheless I picked a good day to visit the capital. Most people head straight to coast where there are some tourist focused beaches and towns.
There’s quite a few highlights from modern to ancient. Starting from the oldest, the skaline (stairs) and remnants of a fortress mark the earliest settlements. Located where the Ribnica river exits to the larger and on the day, fast flowing Morača river. The feature piece is the old Turkish bridge spanning the Ribnica where the earliest village would have stood.
There is only small areas that survived both bombardment during the World War and communist era, the clock tower is probably one of the best pieces that survived.
The nineteenth century King Nikola’s castle is a small pink building (hello Snerikes!) surrounded by a lovely park.
Most of the remainder of the city is rather contemporary, not that it’s a bad thing! The Millennium Bridge is just for pedestrians and on the day was quite the challenge not to be blown off it.
Otherwise there are just plenty of statues and monuments of various people from Montenegrin history… and some that nobody has a clue about – the Russian guitarist thoughtfully donated by Moscow.
If you’ve got the time to spare then also try to Forest park (Park šuma), which is a nice escape from the city. I sits on the hill just behind the sports stadium. There is (I assume) a war memorial but I didn’t see much of a view over the town.
After looking around I headed toward the old town centre. I grabbed some lunch from one of the upmarket cafes. Total cost for a giant ‘small’ salad, cheap sandwich and most expensive iced coffee they had was still all under €10.
The newer developed area outside of the old centre has Roman Square (Rimski Trg) which has plenty of places to eat and shop.
Further out there are a handful of shopping malls. The only good one that is up to international expectations is Delta City on the fringe of town.
As I mentioned at the top, my stay happened to coincide with independence day (not national day!), and not just any but the tenth anniversary. I had wondered most places were closed, and why the centre of town was blocked off to traffic, and why the central square had stage and lighting equipment, camera crews, 100s of hired security, 100s of police, many more mafia like protective security, people and families everywhere in addition to riot squads and more hiding a couple blocks away 🚓 ⚠️
Anyway, it was a big celebration – but given the heavy security presence I decided best to just move on, didn’t want to wait hours for things to start. There were a few minutes of fireworks later on in the night.
I stayed as close as possible to the central train and bus stations. As I had originally planned to take the train toward the coast and was arriving by bus into the country it seemed like the easiest option. There are however some pretty nice options also in town and if visiting again I’d probably pick one of them. But the closest property to the stations is Hotel Evropa. It’s not bad and very affordable. Slightly away from things so the area is quiet.
I stayed an unplanned second night staying in their ‘worst’ room and they were quite hesitant to allow me to stay in it – it’s small but not as small as I’ve seen elsewhere. Still had a private bathroom. Their normal rooms probably had an extra few square metres of space, but that’s all.
Although there’s a lot more to Montenegro than Podgorica, the capital has more going for it than some give it credit. There’s a range of remnants from its past and the centre of town makes for a comfortable place to visit.