Cetinje is a city of 15.000 inhabitants, capital city of the Kingdom of Montenegro till WWI. Today it is the capital city of the municipality by the same name.
Its foundation started in 1482, when it was the last stronghold of Ivan Crnojevic, ruler of the Principality of Zeta. While withdrawing in front of the Ottomans, the Montenegrin sovereign symbol of the Resistance, stopped in a small flat among the Lovcen plateau, where he built the Royal Palace and, after two years, the monastery where Zeta’s archbishop would then settle himself. That is how this small centre became pivotal in the Nation’s history.
The rise of the new Cetinje also marked the end of the Principality of Zeta and the beginning of Montenegro’s new history. It would never become a full-blown city, yet it never was a village, in that it never had actual rural features, nor was it a fortification: it was and it maintains the signs of political and spiritual cornerstone of the Balkan’s Last Free State during the Ottoman invasions.
In 1692, Shkodër’s Pasha invaded and devastated the city and its monastery, but it only took 20 years for it to be built again, to be then destroyed once more by Bosnia’s Turkish Vizier.
In 1838 the new royal residence called Biljarda (Billiard house) was built, and under the rule of Prince Nicola (1860) Cetinje was enlarged by building new houses that gradually led to urbanization and demographic growth.
The Berlin Conference of 1878 formally acknowledged Montenegro’s sovereignty, leading to a period of peace and further development for Cetinje. This ended during WWI, when the Austro-Hungarian Empire seized Montenegro, that would later join the newly established Yougoslavian state after the end of the war.
And when Podgorica became the capital city of Montenegro, Cetinje would remain the undisputed spiritual and cultural lighthouse of the country.
Monuments and highlights
The Vlaška Church, built in 1450 and restored in 1864. Its fence is made out of barrels of captured enemy rifles between 1858 and 1878.
The “Bilijarda” Palace was the old royal see, built in 1838 by prince-bishop Petar II Petrović Njegoš
The Royal Court of Nicola I of Montenegro, built in 1867, now hosting the Montenegro State Museum.
The female school built by Russian tsarina Maria Aleksandrovna.
The “Na Cipuru” church, dedicated to the Holy Virgin, built on the remains of a monastery, was once the court’s chapel.
The “Zetski dom”, Montenegro’s first theatre.
The Blue Palace, once the residence of the heir apparent, is presently a museum.
After 1878, the main powers of the period (Austria, France, Russia, Italy and Great Britain) all had their embassies built.
The “Vladin dom” Palace, formerly hosting the government, was finished in 1910, and it was the most luxurious palace in Cetinje. A huge, relief map of Montenegro is kept inside the palace, made by Austrian-Hungarian cartographers to have a better view of the occupied territories. Because of its huge, unusual size, a bridge was built, to allow for entirely seeing it.
Cetinje and Spoleto established their twinning in the early ’70s.