Why visit Podgorica, Montenegro?
Why visit Podgorica?
It might not be the most beautiful city in the world, accommodation is limited and expensive and there isn’t much to see or do. But don’t let that put you off! Podgorica is one of Europe’s newest capital cities and remains distinctly off the typical tourist trail, meaning a sense of adventure is never far away. Furthermore, it is the home of Montenegrin culture and a real chance to rub shoulders with those who don’t work in the tourism trade.
The sweltering heat of the summer, though unpleasant, is nicely offset with abundant green spaces and there is a surprisingly robust cafe culture to enjoy, even if the concrete jungle backdrop is acquired taste. The Ottoman old town, whilst a shadow of its former self, at least hints at the long history of the city and if it all gets to much on Gorica Hill, past the city’s fine church: St. George’s, are some enjoyable walking trails.
Podgorica: the facts
The area around Podgorica has been inhabited since the Stone Age and by the beginning of antiquity came to be occupied by two Illyrian tribes: the Labeates and the Docleats. They were in turn replaced by the incoming Romans in the 9 A.D. who established the town of Doclea just a few kilometres north of where the city centre is today.
In the 5th century, when the Roman empire began to collapse, newly arrived Slavic and Avar tribes filled the power vacuum and after years of struggle against the Byzantine Empire, in 1042 the Ribnica kingdom was established. The realm grew in prosperity, due to its position on the important trade routes between Dubrovnik and the Serbian state of Nemanjici, and in 1326 the first mention of the name Podgorica appeared in documents stored in the town of Kotor.
Podgorica was soon to change hands again, however, and in 1474 it was incorporated into the expanding Ottoman Empire. This period saw great development of the city, as the Turks built a large fortress, defensive walls, minarets and houses, the traces of which are still evident in the city today. This situation would remain until the Congress of Berlin (1878) where the Ottomans were forced to give up control of the region and Podgorica was incorporated into the newly liberated Principality of Montenegro.
The early 20th century was a period of economic expansion in the city and by the outbreak of the First World War, Podgorica had grown to be the biggest city in Montenegro. The good times came to end, however, when in 1916 the city was occupied by Austro-Hungarian forces. Following the end of the hostilities, Montenegrin statehood was dissolved and the territory was merged with Serbia and incorporated into the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. The Second World War saw even greater destruction as the city was razed to the ground by Allied bombers on the request of Yugoslav partisans.
Following liberation, Podgorica was renamed Titograd and from the wreckage the city was rebuilt anew. Heavy industrialisation and improved infrastructure were constructed and health, educational and cultural institutions were founded, and the city again became the commercial and culture centre of Montenegro. Following the break-up of Yugoslavia the city avoided the wanton destruction of other areas but it was ruined economically and it is only today that Podgorica is slowly climbing back onto its feet.
Podgorica experiences a modified Mediterranean climate typified by hot, dry summers and cool winters. Summers are renowned for being extremely hot, which explains why many citizens leave at this time with average temperatures of 29-31°C but summer days in excess of 40°C are not uncommon. The rest of the year is generally pleasant with average temperatures of 25°C for around third of the year. In winter, it rarely drops below 0°C with averages of 5–7°C. Snow is rare, but rain isn’t, with about 120 rainy days a year.
Weather in Trieste now
Events season in Podogrica kicks off in February with the Ex–Yu Fest, which features films from all the former Yugoslav republics. In April, the international music festival A Tempo is held in the city and promotes classical music by Montenegrin and intentional soloists. Podgorica’s Cultural Summer, which takes place every June, is perhaps the city’s premier cultural event and features numerous plays, open-air movies and concerts primarily based around the Budo Tomovic cultural centre. For something a little different, check out the Dives in the River Moraca, which attracts a large crowd of people throwing themselves off the Vezirov bridge into the water below every July. And finally, for high culture fans, the FIAT (International Festival of Alternative Theatre) occurs every August and includes many works by intentional playwrites.