Cetinje

City of Cetinje City of Cetinje (85 Kb)

Cetinje is the old capital of Montenegro, located at the foot of Mount Lovcen. Cetinje began to grow around 1482 when Ivan Crnojevic, a ruler of the Crnojevic dynasty, moved under Turkish advance from the southern town of Zabljak on Skadar Lake and named Cetinje his new capital. The name Cetinje derives from the tiny river Cetina which used to flow through the valley and vanish underground at its lower end.

Cetinje is much more than a capital city to Montenegrins. Cetinje and Mount Lovcen are symbols of the Montenegrin nation and state created in the centuries-old struggle for independence, and freedom. They are also symbols of the highlanders' ethic of honesty, courage and loyalty to their country. Cetinje was the seat of the Montenegrin Orthodox Church and the center of the organized resistance against the Turks.

The oldest building in Cetinje is the Vlaska Church. Its name derives from vlasi (shepherds) who built the church around 1450, not from Vlasi, an ethnic group which did not exist in Montenegro.

In 1692, when the Turks reached Cetinje, the original Crnojevic monastery was destroyed.

In 1701, Vladika Danilo Petrovic rebuilt the Cetinje monastery on the nearby site of the original court of the Crnojevics. Cetinje began to grow rapidly in the 19th century when Montenegro secured international recognition of its independence. In 1838, Petar II Petrovic Njegos built the "Biljarda", a building that housed the Montenegrin state administration. Under Njegos's successor, Prince Danilo Petrovic, Cetinje got its first hotel, the Lokanda. It was at this time that the great powers officially demarcated Montenegro's territory as separate from Turkey, de facto recognizing Montenegro.

Cetinje reached its zenith under Prince (subsequently King) Nikola I Petrovic who ruled from 1860 until 1918. Under Nikola I Cetinje flourished. The development was particularly notable after 1878, when Montenegro was officially recognized as an independent state at the Berlin Congress. Cetinje was the smallest European capital, but had many foreign embassies (notably the Austrian, French, Russian, British and Italian), a palace, hospital, theater, girls' institute, schools, museum, and archives.

Cetinje's expansion was halted by the Balkan wars and World War I, after which Montenegro was annexed by Serbia and subsequently incorporated into the first Yugoslavia in 1918. After World War II, under communist Yugoslavia, Cetinje became largely a museum and tourist town for foreign visitors to Montenegro. The capital of the Republic of Montenegro, one of the six consitutent republics of the former Yugoslavia, was moved to Podgorica (Titograd).

In 1993, following the dissolution of the communist Yugoslavia, the government of the Republic of Montenegro moved certain government functions from the capital Podgorica to Cetinje. This made Cetinje the twin capital with Podgorica, the largest city in Montenegro.

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www.montenegro.org 25 April 1997