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Montenegro The land of three cultures/civilisations

In his poem “Mountain Wreath”, Petar Petrović Njegoš has interwoven Montenegro’s entire history. When we read the verses we become acquainted with the most significant events (up to and including the 18th century) that took place in Montenegro, the holidays they celebrate, traditional customs, etc. Njegoš also portrayed Montenegro’s neighbouring peoples: the Turks and Venetians. The poem consists of 2,819 verses and actually speaks of three worlds: three different civilisations that were interwoven on Montenegrin soil. The author of “Mountain Wreath” was the Prince Bishop, a spiritual and secular ruler of Montenegro and one of its most famous poets and philosophers.

The postcards represent the chapel of Njegoš, and also the city of Cetinje, which was the seat of the old Montenegrin state from 1440 until 1918. This rather small city is replete with historical significance for the people of Montenegro. The Petrović Njegoš family ruled Montenegro from 1696 to 1918 and supplied by far the greatest number of rulers to this country.

The Chapel of Njegoš, 1905, Aleksa Šantić, Vrbica Mihailo, National Library of Montenegro "Đurđe Crnojević", Public Domain Mark
The Chapel of Njegoš, 1905, Aleksa Šantić, Vrbica Mihailo, National Library of Montenegro "Đurđe Crnojević", Public Domain Mark

Towering above Cetinje is Mount Lovćen with its two peaks. One of the peaks houses the famous Mausoleum of Petar II Petrović Njegoš: Jezerski vrh (Lake Peak; height 1,600 metres). The famous poet died of tuberculosis at a young age, and his final wish was to be buried on Lovćen. This hand-coloured postcard, posted by Jovan and Ilija (the correspondents), reproduces the painting of local painter Mihailo Vrbica and depicts the original small chapel that was built when Njegoš was still alive. The caption contains patriotic verses from the well-known Serbian poet Aleksa Šantić, dedicated to Montenegro:

There, there on the immortal height, there raises the tomb of an immortal of yours! Aleksa Šantić
The city of Cetinje, 1907, Risto Biljanović, National Library of Montenegro "Đurđe Crnojević", CC0
The city of Cetinje, 1907, Risto Biljanović, National Library of Montenegro "Đurđe Crnojević", CC0

This photograph represents a panoramic view of Cetinje, dated around 1907. From left to right the following buildings can be recognised: the Blue Palace (seat of the heir to the throne), the Monastery, and the Eagle’s Rock Monument, with Mount Lovćen in the background. To the right, the Royal Garden is visible. Back then, postcards were hand coloured and were issued and sold by bookstore owner Risto Biljanović.

Cetinje, 1905, Risto Biljanovich , National Library of Montenegro "Đurđe Crnojević", CC0
Cetinje, 1905, Risto Biljanovich , National Library of Montenegro "Đurđe Crnojević", CC0

The above postcard was designed in Art Nouveau style. The Cetinje Monastery is dedicated to Petar I Petrović Njegoš, who was the Metropolitan bishop and ruler of Montenegro. Biljarda was built in 1838 and served as the residency of Petar II Petrović Njegoš. The palace of Nikola I, the last ruler from the Petrović Njegoš dynasty, dates from the 1870s and has been fully preserved. It succeeded Biljarda as the residency of Montenegrin rulers and was intimately referred to as the Palazzo. It was home to King Nikola and Queen Milena and their 10 children. In 1884, Nikola I, who was also a poet and playwright, supported the building of Zetski Dom, the national theatre. The first play that was performed in the national theatre was King Nikola’s play “The Balkan Empress”.

Discover more postcards from Montenegro at europeana.eu.