Podgorica Montenegro - Why You Should Visit: Travel Blog 2021 (Ruins, Šipčanik Winery, History)
This travel blog explains why you should visit Podgorica, Montenegro. It gives the full details on our trip to Podgorica Montenegro in 2021! We explored the Duklja (Doclea) Ruins, Šipčanik (Sipcanik) Winery, and the Old Ribnica Bridge. We also go over the Capital city's history.
On our way out of Koplik, we had to cross the border from Albania to Montenegro by land. This was quite an adventure. But we made it across the border and safely to Podgorica, Montenegro. (Read the full blog here)
This city has been through a lot, but it still has an excellent mix of the scars of its history and the measures it is taking to have a brighter future. In today's blog we will talk about our tour of Podgorica's landmarks and tell you about the city's resilient history. We also had a wine tour inside of Šipčanik Winery; a Yugoslav-era aircraft hangar. But first, let's take you way back.
I still haven't figured out the spelling for this! It's Duklja in Google maps, but Doclea when I am doing all of my research. So let's go with the latter. Doclea was an ancient Illyrian, Roman and Byzantine city. This was the largest city of the Docleatae tribe and it became a city under the reign of Emperor Claudius between 41 and 54 AD. It had between 8,000 and 10,000 inhabitants.
This was the old capital of Montenegro. These ruins are 2,000 years old! There are definitely Roman influences as you can see some of the tablets that are inscribed and there are some columns as well. It was an hour walk out from the Northeast of the Podgorica.
Unfortunately the people there took away from the experience. There were 2 sights. One that had no fencing and basically had rubble. There were people just hanging out and there were a lot of beer bottles and trash around this site. We thought there had to be more based on the pictures we saw online. This lead us to walking around, on the other side of the railroad tracks, where we found the proper ruins. This area was fenced in and looked more like ruins. Unfortunately, the locals treated this area like a playground. Kids were running around and screaming and climbing on the ruins. People were sitting on these 2,000 year old structures and it was weird that these ruins did not have the respect and control like we saw in Chichén Itzá or Tulum.
If you go, make sure to go during the week. We went on a Sunday which may have explained all the people there. If you have this site all to yourself, or at least mostly, this is a place to spend an hour reading the signs explaining the buildings that previously stood at the location and walking around the ruins.
Old Ribnica Bridge
Doclea has a Roman connection but it's not the only part of the city that does. From the ruins it is about an hour walk back to the city. When you return to the city you can go just south of downtown to reach the Old Ribnica Bridge.
This bridge was built when Montenegro was under the Roman Empire and is the oldest bridge in Podgorica. Today you can see that it had major reconstruction when they were under the rule of the Ottoman Empire in the 18th century. The water was a gorgeous blue. The Ribnica river which flows under this bridge flows right into the Moraca river.
When you are here, you can spend time just marveling at the bridge on your feet, or having a seat and really soaking it in. There is blue rushing water that goes under the bridge and there is plenty of land to walk around and enjoy the area.
In the downtown area there is a statue of King Nicola riding a horse. He was the Prince on Montenegro from 1860 to 1910. He later became Montenegro's first and only King starting in 1910 until Montenegro was taken over by Austria Hungry.
He introduced Montenegro's first constitution and its freedom of press. He even established vineyards and set up rules for grape cultivation; therefore laying the foundation for wine making in the country.
This statue is cool and is right off of a main road; which makes it easy to find. After walking around the statue, you can walk around near the park or sit down and relax.
World War History
There is a lot of history in this city. As you walk around you can appreciate the fact that you are even in Podgorica.
The Balkan Campaign of World War 1 occurred between 1914 to 1918. During this time Podgorica was the largest city in the Kingdom of Montenegro. During this time Podgorica was bombed 3 or 4 times and then the city, along with the rest of Montenegro was occupied by Austria-Hungry.
In 1918 Montenegro was liberated and merged with the Kingdom of Serbia and later went on to become part of Yugoslavia.
During WWII , in 1941 Podgorica was bombed over 80 times killing 400 citizens. Almost 1700 people were killed in Podgorica during the course of the war.
The Clock Tower
Not many types of buildings can survive what this monument did. It's crazy to think that it is still standing. The Clock Tower, named Sahat Kula, was one of the few landmarks that survived the WWII bombings. It was built in 1667, is made of stone and stands 19 meters tall. It was renovated in January 2012 and a new electric mechanism was installed. We didn't know what to expect, but the contrast of the stones with the blue sky looked really cool.
The man responsible for the clock tower was the same responsible for one of the Mosques damaged during WWII . Mehmet-Pasha Osmanagic is the namesake of the Mosque that we visited and his tomb is even in the courtyard there. As we were exploring this mosque, we heard the call to prayer. One of the men going in invited Will into the mosque and was invited in for their prayer.
The leader of post WWII Yugoslavia for 35 years was Josip 'Tito' Broz. This city was named Titograd from 1946 to 1992. The letters for the airport are still TGD, short for Titograd. As Yugoslavia began to break up, Titograd became Podgorica; meaning area below a small hill. Montenegro in English means Black Mountain.
There is a statue of Titograd close to one of the bridges. When we were there we saw that there were some reefs and flowers laid out by the base of the statue. This statue was cool because it was just him standing. No horse needed for Josip.
This winery is inside of a Yugoslavia era aircraft hangar that was partially destroyed by the NATO bombing in 1999. From 1999 to 2005 this building was left empty. The next year, the major winery of Podgorica, took over this place. Plantaže which is the largest single site vineyard in Europe turned this former aircraft hanger into Sipcanik winery.
We made reservations in advance, but still needed to tell the people what we wanted when we got there. This was not an issue though as we were able to get the tour we wanted and were the only guests in the wine cellar.
We booked an hour long tour that cost us 17 Euros a piece. Our Sommelier did a fantastic job. She showed us the comparison of the city to all of the vineyards of Plantaže on a model that they had inside. She also gave us a tour around the cellar to show us the oak barrels and their innox containers for storing wine. She explained to us the aging process behind wine and how the climate and soil of Podgorica allows them to grow their wine grapes all year long.
She also showed us how to properly hold a wine glass and look at its color against a white surface. She showed us the proper way to smell the wine and try to guess what kinds of fruits are in it. They also provided goat cheese, cow cheese, bread and their own olive oil to pair with the 5 wines we sampled.
Podgorica has been through a lot in its history. Much of the city has been destroyed or at least severely damaged. But this is a city on the rise. One of the newer and most popular landmarks is the Millennium Bridge, which opened July 13, 2005 for Montenegro's national day. This bridge looks awesome from the sides and from under. There are a total of 4 bridges that are parallel to each other; two bridges for cars and people and 2 pedestrian bridges.
There is also the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ. Construction began in 2003 and consecration happened in 2013. The inside was beautiful and had many scenes from the Bible depicted. The building was mostly white on the outside. There were some gold crossed on the top that reflected the sunshine during the day. At this time the moon was also visible which added to the aura of the church.
We didn't get to meet too many people in our time in Podgorica; but our sommelier and our AirBnb host were amazing. We saw a lot and we walked a lot. Our next blog will be from our next country. Thanks for reading this blog!
See all of the amazing sights of Podgorica, Montenegro mentioned in this blog by watching our travel vlog on YouTube. Out now!
This travel vlog provides full details on our trip to Podgorica Montenegro in 2021! We visited the Duklja (Doclea) Ruins, Šipčanik (Sipcanik) Winery, and the Old Ribnica Bridge. We also go over the Capital city's history.
Thanks for reading our blog on Podgorica, Montenegro!
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