The ancient historic capital of Montenegro, Cetinje, is now a spiritual and cultural and art centre of the country. It got its name by the river Cetina which, probably in the 17 century, left its surface-flow and disappeared in one of numerous abysses.
Cetinje is connected with Podgorica (at a distance of 30km) and Budva (at a distance of 29km) by main roads and with Kotor by an old road which goes through Montenegrin rocky sea and Njegusi field (40km long). This road is particularly attractive at the distance between Njegusi and Kotor with its 25 serpentines that offer breathtaking view of Kotor Bay.
The founder of the town is Ivan Crnojević (1465-1490) who, in 1482, founded a magnificent palace near the steeps of Orlov Krš and, in 1484, the Monastery of the Birth of the Virgin Mary. There he moved the seat of Metropolitanate of Zeta, which made Cetinje a new capital. The last ruler of the Crnojevićs dynasty, Ivan’s son Đurađ (1490-1496) set up a printing house in Cetinje, the first one among the South Slovenes, where books with amazing beauty of letters and mastery of illumination were printed: Oktoih osmoglasnik (The Eight Voice Octoechos) (1494), Oktoih petoglasnik (The Fifth Voice Octoechos) (1494), Psaltir (1495), Trebnik (Ritual book) and Četvorojevanđelje (Four-gospel).
Constant endangering by Turkish military forces led to the period of halt in material and cultural development of the town. The Crnojevićs and their court vanished and the Monastery was reduced to rubble in 1692. Headed by bishop Danilo (1697-1735), the creator of thoughts about the freedom and independence of Montenegro, and the originator of Petrović-Njegoš dynasty, the Monastery of Cetinje was reconstructed in 1701. In that way Danilo symbolically pointed out that he would follow the liberation mission of his ancestors.
His successors, among who Saint Petar Cetinjski (1781-1830) and Petar II Petrović Njegoš were most distinguished, were also well-known bishops, heroes, philosophers and writers. In Saint Petar’s time, many battles against Turkish military forces were won, which inspired Alexander S. Pushkin, Lord Tenisson, and many other poets, to write poems admiring Montenegrin bravery. Saint Petar is the author of famous pastoral letters. He was canonized in 1834. Petar II initiated education and culture. In 1834, he opened the first school in the Monastery of Cetinje and the following year he set up a printing house. His best-known pieces are Mountain Wreath, and also The Ray of Microcosm and The Pseudo Tsar Stephen the Little. In 1838, eleven countries opened their embassies and other two their consular divisions in Cetinje.
Cetinje was distinguished through history not only by its liberate spirit and heroism of its people, but also because it was a cultural and art centre of Montenegro. It was the first residence of Montenegrin cinematography. The first bookstore was opened in this town in March, 1879. It is worth mentioning that the first tennis club was founded in Cetinje at Italian embassy in 1906, and at the beginning of the 20th century Cetinje had a few tennis courts. The first football was brought to this town from Paris in 1904 by Mihailo Vuković, a son of a distinguished Montenegrin diplomat, Gavro Vuković. A cycling club was established in Cetinje in 1905, and a golf club in July 1906 under the auspices of princess Milica. In 1935, the first issue of Montenegrin calendar Grlica (Turtle-dove), which, besides the calendar with notes for religion holidays, contained an appendix with literary and historic texts, so its appearance is considered the birth of first Montenegrin magazine.
The centre of the town is adorned by lines of locusts and limes and houses with garrets and front yards. Many herbs are found on mountain Karst of Cetinje municipality, among which beam-trefoil, suitable for bee-keeping, and wormwood, a medicinal herb. Our ancestors called wormwood a saint’s herb. Goat kastradina (smoked legs and neck) with beam-trefoil has been used for recovering patients who suffer from lungs diseases for centuries. Studying flora and vegetation of Lovcen, 1158 plant species have been identified, whereas that area was covered with impenetrable beech wood.
There used to be about 150 standing tomb-stones in front of Vlaška Church which were built in the foundations of this sacral structure at its restoration in 1864. Only two gravestone-like monolith stone blocks remained.