History of Ulcinj

History of Ulcinj



The first settlements in the area of modern-day Ulcinj emerged in the 5th century BC, when the Illyrians inhabited the area, bringing a period of prosperity to the area. Ulcinj’s original name was Colchidinium, which was derived from the name of a Greek tribe, the Colchidians, who are thought to have founded the city themselves. In 163 BC, the city was taken over by the Romans, and at this point the city’s name was changed to Olcinium. During the reign of the Romans, Ulcinj enjoyed special priviledges, enjoying a state of limited autonomy. When the Roman Empire split in two, Ulcinj belonged to the Byzantyne Empire, which prompted its inhabitants to convert to Christianity.

Many conquerors came and went through Ulcinj, some of them shaping the city, and some demolishing it. Byzantine Emperor Justinian fortified the city, a project later further expanded by ruling families such as the Nemanjić, Balšić families, as well as by the Venetians and the Turks. Ulcinj was an intercultural city already by the 12th century, with Slavic, Albanian and Romanic groups. When Montenegro became Duklja, and the Serbian royal Nemanjić family ruled over it, the city was a significant trade center.

One of the most notable periods for the city was the rule of Montenegrin Balšić royal family in the 13th century. It was at that time that the Mongols attempted to besiege the city, which ended in failure to capture it. When Montenegrin rule perished in the 15th century, the Venetians took over Ulcinj and ruled over the city for the next 150 years, until 1571, when the city was taken over by the Turks. During the reign of the Turks, Ulcinj got a more Oriental look, which is no miracle, as the reign of the Turks was the longest to date, lasting for a full 300 years.

During Ottoman reign, mosque, hammams, clock towers and water fountains were constructed in the city. Between the 17th and the 19th centuries, a flouroshing of the city’s sea-faring potential occured, which saw Ulcinj’s trade ship capacities the biggest in the Adriatic thanks to Ottoman influence. The inhabitants of Ulcinj barely accepted their Turkish rulers. At one point, a Turkish Vizier wanted to put a stop to Ulcinj’s pirates, which led to his sinking of ships in the port of Valdanos. This event led to the rise of the popularity of the Turks in the area. Ulcinj boasted 107 sailing ships, which made the inhabitans of Ulcinj famous as good seafarers and even better ship builders. Ulcinj was always famous for its pirates, who stood up to the Turks. Ulcinj was liberated from the Turks and, in 1878, became part of the Knjaževina of Montenegro.

No city is complete without its local legends, and Ulcinj has no shortage of stories, especially ones dealing with its pirates. Since the 14th, Maltese, Tunisian and Algerian pirates settled the city. The shore leading from Ulcinj to Kotor was a pirate haven, and the pirates caused panic and fear wherever they appeared. The pirates attacked merchant ships in the Adriatic Sea, robbing them and hiding what they stole in their own safe spots. Venetian ships suffered the most by the hand of the these pirates. Apart from robing ships, the pirates sold slaves. Even today, stories tell of the 100 black slaves who were brought in from Africa to serve in Ulcinj. There are stories that tell of the famous Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes’s time as a slave in the city.

One local leend tells of a pirate lord from Ulcinj by the name of Lika Ceni, who progressed from notorious pirate to the rank of Captain. Lika Ceni ruled over the Adriatic, robbing ships and entire fleets alike. Ceni once even sunk a ship carrying pilgrims to Mecca. This notorious act made him famous outside Ulcinj. The then-Sultan issued an order for Lika Ceni tu be caught or killed, promising a large reward to whoever did so. A the time, an even more cruel pirate, Lambro, arrived at the scene. Lambro was a skilled pirate who carried out many a notorious attack. When stories of his deeds reached the Sultan, a reward was placed on his head as well.

Time passed, and Lambro evaded capture many times. Seeing this, the Sultan asked Lika Ceni himself to put a stop to Lambro, promising that all his misdemeanors would be forgotten if he succeeded. Lika Ceni accepted the offer, and he even managed to capture Lambro, prompting the Sultan to make good on his promise within a week, even ascending Ceni to the rank of Captain, making the once-famous criminal an even more famous captain.

Tourist destinations in Montenegro:


Perast is home to some of the most beautiful palaces along the Adriatic coast. This is the city of steep stone streets, flower giards, the city of churchs, the city of closed jalouisies, tncredible islands of St. George and Our Lady of the Rocks, the city of legends, seafaring and glorious captains. Least, but not last, Perast is home of the famous Peras Cake. This old baroque city has attracted many writers, poets, actors and painters with his charm. Intoxicated, they become in love with this little miracle located on the Adriatic shore.

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Risan is the oldest settlement in Boka Kotorska. It is located at the northern point of the bay. Risan is an ideal place for holidays for young people, but also for families with children, because this village is never crowded even during the summer season. The most important tourist attractions in Risan are Roman mosaics from the third century BC, Monastery Banja, the church of St. George and the church of St. Peter and Paul. On the hill Gradina above Risan, there are the remains of the old Illyrian castle.

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Boka Kotorska

Boka Kotorska or simply Boka (in Italian Bocce di Cattaro) is the largest bay of the Adriatic Sea. It consists of four bays: The Bay of Herceg Novi, Tivat Bay, Risan Bay and Kotor Bay. The length of Bokakotorska Bay is 116 kilometers. The maximum depth of the bay is 60 meters. Boka Kotorska is the only fjord in the Mediterranean, surrounded by high mountains Orjen and Lovcen. There are countless small fishing villages and 3 major cities in the bay: Herceg Novi, Tivat and Kotor, as well as 7 islands: Mamula, Our Lady of Mercy, Vedvedje, Saint George, Our Lady of the Rocks and the Island of Flowers. There are also two peninsulas here: Luštica and Vrmac.

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Kotor is a medieval old town known as Montenegrin Venice. Kotor is one of the best preserved old towns and is located in one of the 25 most beautiful bays in the world. The town is 13 centuries old, but on the site of present-day Kotor, people settled much earlier. Surrounded by grandiose walls, intertwined with old cobbled streets where tourists gladly "get lost", it is a favorite port for big cruisers and tourists from all over the world. Kotor is listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

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Tivat is the youngest town on the Montenegrian coast. It is located in the Bay of Boka Kotorska, only 10 kilometers from the city of Kotor. Tivat is home to a famous training ship "Jadran", which in the most beautiful way decorates Tivat waterfront. There are various legends about how Tivat got the name. Some say that Tivat was named after the Illyrian Queen Teuta, who ruled from the neighboring town Risan, but had her summer residence in Tivat. The second assumption is that Tivat is named after a Christian saint Theodorus. What is perhaps the most realistic story is that the name Tivat comes from the Celtic word "teoto", which means „the city“.

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Herceg Novi

Herceg Novi is a place of steps, sea and walls, a city of sunlight and flower gardens. It is situated at the entrance to the bay of Kotor, 51km from Dubrovnik and around 43 kilometers from Kotor. As one of the sunniest cities in the Adriatic, it is the first to greet guests who venture into the bay of Kotor, surrounded by the tall Orjen mountain, and beautified by lush greenery and mimosas, palm trees and the open sea. Herceg Novi is home to many tall palm trees brought in by sailors from their distant destinations, but is also home to magnolias, eucalipus and agave.

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Budva is surely one of Montenegro’s most famous and expensive holiday destinations. Known as the Queen of the Mediterranean, as well as the Monte Carlo of Montenegro, this city is rightly considered the capital of Montenegrin tourism. The city is famous for its historical district, once controlled by the Republic of Venice, but also for its modern night clubs, casinos, luxurious villas and hotels, but, most of all, it boasts the best night life experience in Montenegro. The Budva Riviera stretches over a distance of 25km, each step covered by some of the most beautiful sandy beaches Montenegro has to offer.

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Bar is a pier town with an open sea view, located 60km from Kotor and 30km from Ulcinj. It is famous for its large number of olive trees, olive oil, Turkish coffee, its old fortress overlooking the city, for the only railway line in Montenegro that passes just next to the sea shore, for the Bar pier, the Bar-Bari ferry. In addition to this, the town is renowned for its history, the diversity of ethnicities and cultures that populate it, and for its rich tradition. Bar boasts beautiful open sea beaches, coves and clear, blue water.

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Podgorica is the capital of Montenegro, located in the very center of the country. It is the main economic, trade and university center with the largest number of inhabitants of any city in the country, with over 200 thousand inhabitants. Podgorica is situated at the foot of Mount Gorica, and the local people also call it “the old lady”.

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At the foot of the Lovćen mountain, located 670 meters above sea level in the karst field of the same name, lies the once-capital of Montenegro, Cetinje. With its many churches, museums, monasteries and embassies, the city is dubbed “Museum City”, and is considered to be one of the most beautiful cities in Montenegro. with its turbulent history of warfare and destruction, the city will lure all who look at it in with its unavoidable beauty and energy. Cetinje is the city of Montenegrin rulers, metropolitan bishops and kings, as well as the city of bravery and valiance, which is exactly what all Montenegrins are known for.

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Ulcinj is located at the very edge of the Montenegrin sea shore, near the Albanian border, and is the souternmost city in Montenegro. Ulcinj is one of the oldest cities in the Adriatic, with a history dating back more than 2000 years. It was always a place where different cultures met, the Oriental and Western mostly, which makes its cultural and historical diversity even richer and all the more interesting even today. Ulcinj is home to Montenegrin paradise on earth, the Ada Bojana, a 13km-long sandy beach, where some of the most beautiful sunsets can be seen. As a border town, Ulcinj’s populace is diverse, with the majority of inhabitants being of Albanian descent. This means that it is as likely to hear Albanian as it is to hear Montenegrin in the city.

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Durmitor is located in the north of Montenegro, a 5-hour drive from the seaside. A short drive through the beautiful landscape takes you from the sea to the mountainside, a lake, as well as colder and cleaner air. Durmitor and Žabljak are popular tourist destinations all year round. The cold winter, when skiing is particularly popular, summer, when tourists bathe in the Black Lake and walk along the mountain, and spring, when forest flowers on the slopes of the Durmitor mountain display their most beautiful colors, are all great opportunities to visit the mountain. Žabljak and Durmitor offer everyone enjoyment and fun activities.

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Skadar Lake

The Skadar Lake is the largest lake in Montenegro and in the Balkans. The lake takes up a surface area of around 369,7 km2, 221,8 of which belong to Montenegro, and the remaining 147,9 to Albania. The length of the lake, measured between Vranjine in Montenegro and Shkodra in Albania, measures around 40 kilometers. The lake is a cryptodepression, which means that its depths are beneath sea level. The lake’s deepest point measures around 6 meters deep. The Bojana river starts in the Skadar Lake, ending its journey in the Adriatic Sea. The Skadar Lake is rich in flora and fauna, as well as islands, cultural monuments and beautiful, pure natural wonder. In 1983, the lake and its surrounding area became a national park.

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