All of Montenegro is historic. Just as most nations and places have vast history that we know and don’t know, the nation of Montenegro is filled with historic sites, amazing stories, and breathtaking natural splendor. (See here, here, and here for the tip of the iceberg.)
This particular road trip traces some of that history and the story of 19th-century statesman, bishop, poet, nationalist, and penultimate ladies’ man Petar II Petrovic-Njegoš. A man of many talents, eh?
First, though, we had to leave our home in Herceg Novi and drive around the Bay of Kotor, which lent itself to some of the most ridiculous natural beauty we will ever see. I mean, seriously.
The route that we would take is the ancient road from Kotor to Cetinje, which has a staggering 25 hairpin curves that could make neck hair stand up on the most stoic of rally drivers.
View Road to Cetinje in a larger map
Not to mention they don’t even bother having guardrails on most of this.
After stopping umpteen times for pictures, and placing who-buys-lunch bets with our landlord on how many curves the road actually has, we made our way to the old town of Njeguši.
As small as this village is, it is the origin of Montenegro’s royal dynasty. And this is where we first encountered Njegoš.
When people think about royalty, they – us included – often don’t think that folks like this come from such humble origins. Alas, palaces and estates haven’t been around forever, and you’ve got to start somewhere. Amiright? Of course!
This is the birthplace of Njegoš and the historic home of the family. I guess I’d call this modest, but what do I know?
Born in 1813, Njegoš grew up to become the Prince-Bishop of Montenegro at age seventeen. Some people get to be princes. Some get to be bishops. He got to be Prince-Bishop. Twofer! When it came to skills, this guy had it all. He was a master at uniting people, forging relationships between fighting clans, codifying laws and common rights, and writing some serious poetry. No wonder he got the ladies in a big way. Also, the ‘stache didn’t hurt.
Even though we got ourselves onto the grounds, the buildings were closed for the season.
Fortunately, we had other business, as Njeguši is known all over the Balkans for its fine cheese and prosciutto production. This particular image might look like a screenshot of an old horror flick, but it’s actually me shooting straight up – in the dark – at literally hundreds of shanks of what will eventually become some prized prosciutto.
Here’s a better shot.
If you’re done drooling, shall we continue?
We made our way into a café for a strong coffee – because everything is strong in this region and that’s how we like it – but the rules changed quickly as we were encouraged to try the local medovina. If I have my story straight, it’s the Balkan version of mead (honey wine). It starts out looking like this…
…and ends up looking like this, after red wine is added into the mix. Believe it or not, it was drop-dead tasty.
As another “okay, we go” spilled from the mouth of our landlord, I grabbed one more shot of this very tiny, and very historic village. And as I am prone to do, I stood there for a minute thinking about all the stories these buildings, this landscape, and these people could tell. My brain was on imagination overdrive, as is wont to be the case.
Next up, we climb even higher into the mountains – to the tippy-top of the country – where we explore Njegoš’s life a bit further and see how revered he really is in Montenegro. Click here to read “Historic Montenegro Part 2: The Summit of Mount Lovcen.”
(Note: Some accent marks have been left off of Serbian and Montenegrin names. Sorry about that: WordPress hates every version available for the web for some letters.)
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Have you ever been to Njeguši? Have any thoughts otherwise? Join us in the comments!