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Podgorica, Montenegro

Besides being the capital of Montenegro, Podgorica is also the country's largest city, having a population of some 150,000 people. The city is situated in central Montenegro, in the scarce Montenegrin lowlands between Dinaric Alps and Lake Scutari.

The Podgorica area has been continuously inhabited since the Illyrian and Roman eras, with settlement on the site of today's Podgorica being firmly established during Ottoman Empire rule. Podgorica was reincorporated in Montenegro in 1878, when the city started to take a more European shape. Nazi and Allied bombings during World War II destroyed much of the historical Ottoman and Montenegro-era Podgorica architecture, and city was reborn as the capital of Montenegro in Socialist Yugoslavia (SFRY). The city was then rebuilt and expanded in a manner typical of Eastern bloc countries, so it is mostly a modern planned city, and by no means a principal sightseeing destination.

While not a typical European eye candy, the city is definitely worth visiting, owing to its interesting mix of old and new, its café culture and nightlife, and its laid back Mediterranean atmosphere. Both Montenegrin coastal cities and its mountain resorts are within one hour's drive from the city, so it is an excellent starting point for day trips to anywhere in Montenegro.

Weather in Podgorica

Podgorica has a typical Mediterranean climate with mild winters (when most of the rain falls) and hot and dry summers. The location inland in a valley means that summer temperatures can be very high, and despite the dry air it is sometimes unbearable with temperatures over 40 °C during the day common in July and August. In winter, frost is possible but it rarely gets really cold for a long time.

Drinking water

Tap water can safely be consumed in Podgorica. Bottled water is widely available, and you can support the local economy by buying good Montenegrin brands like include Aqua Bianca, Aqua Monta and Suza.

What to see in Podgorica

  • People will tell you that Podgorica is Europe’s most boring capital. That it has no museums, churches or sights of note. They are all wrong. The wonderfully situated Banja bathhouse and the wacky concrete Catholic church are worth the trip alone.
  • Antiquities Doclea (Duklja) Rogami bb, 4km north of Podgorica,tel. +382 20 24 26 05. The city of Doclea, also know as Duklja or Diokletija, is Montenegro’s foremost ancient site. Founded in the 1st century AD, the city was built on a plateau near the confluence of the Zeta and Moraca rivers and had a forum, temples, basilica, thermal pools and a necropolis.
  • Becoming the provincial capital around 300AD and housing some 40,000 people, it lost power after the 4th century invasions and was eventually ravaged by a lethal combination of Goths, Slavs and earthquakes. A low wall, medieval defence towers, a partially uncovered road and some other scattered remnants are visible today. It’s possible to walk to Doclea by following the east bank of the river north from the City Stadium and crossing the railway bridge.
  • Millennium Bridge (Most Milenijum) C/D-1, Bul. Ivana Crnojevića. Ironically finished five years after the new millennium, this 140 metre-long cable-stayed bridge has become Podgorica’s landmark structure (for lack of better). The eye-catching bridge has a 57-metre high pylon which holds 36 elegantly splayed cables. The landscaped area has benches and is lit up very nicely at night.
  • Churches Cathedral of the Resurrection (Saborni Hram Hristovog Vaskrsenja) A/B-1, Bul. Džordža Vašingtona bb, tel. +382 20 22 50 30, info@sabornihram.org, www. sabornihram.org. The massive new Orthodox cathedral, under construction in the Novi Grad area for several years now, is almost finished. The exterior is an intriguing mix of trough stone at bottom of the building and polished stone with elaborate carvings further up. Inside, the crypt and dome paintings are quite stunning, and can be viewed.
  • Church of the Holy Heart of Jesus (Crkva Presvetog Srca Isusovog) K-2, Zagrebačka 3, tel. +382 20 60 72 30/+382 20 62 82 10, www.donbosko.si/podgorica. In a suburb east of the centre, Podgorica’s Catholic church is an amazing work of modern architecture. Replacing the city centre church that was destroyed in the war, the bold and brutal concrete building was built in 1969 to look like a
  • ship. The facade was never finished, so it looks a bit like a disused factory. From the dark interior, an ingenious 25-metre high tower sticks up, filtering light to illuminate the main altar. There’s a 40-metre high freestanding bell tower too, as well as smashing concrete spiral staircases.
  • St. George’s Church (Crkva Svetog Đorđa) E-1, 19 Decembra. Podgorica’s oldest and prettiest church is placed between fragrant trees at the foot of Gorica hill. Inside the simple structure, the dark 16th century nave is adorned with 19th century icons and frescoes. The front room has a small
  • shop where religious trinkets, magnetic icons and candles are sold. For some spookytime, walk into the overgrown derelict cemetery directly behind the church - the sadly vandalised crypts allow you to peek inside graves.
  • Modern Art Gallery (Centar Savremene Umjetnosti) B-3, Ljubljanska, tel. +382 20 24 35 13. Podgorica’s most elegant building, the pretty white Petrović Palace that formerly belonged to King Nikola, is home to the modern art collection of the city museum. The museum features a lot of African and Asian paintings and sculptures, but also has rooms with Montenegrin 20th century art with works by Risto Stijović, Milo Milunović, Filo Filipović and others. If they’re not on display, ask to be shown the collection of gifts made to Tito by presidents and dictators including Gaddafi and Sadam Hussein. Find the palace up the stairs in the lush park behind the US embassy. QOpen 07:00 - 14:00, 17:00 - 21:00, Sat 10:00 - 13:00. Closed Sun. Admission free.
  • Natural History Museum (Prirodnjački Muzej) D-3, Trg Vojvode Bećir Bega Osmanagića 16, tel. +382 20 63 31 84/+382 20 62 35 44, prmuzej@t-com.me, www.pmcg.co.me. A biologer’s dream, this museum houses all knowledge there is about algae, plants and animals in Montenegro. The small exhibition room often hosts temporary shows on things like pelicans. QOpen 09:00 - 17:00. Closed Sat, Sun.
  • Podgorica Museum (Muzeji i Galerije Podgorice) E-3, Marka Miljanova 4, tel. +382 20 24 25 43. The city’s main museum has a good collection of archaeological, religious icons, books and other historical objects. Especially the elegant Copper age, Illirian and Roman items from nearby ancient Doclea are worth looking up. A special section is
  • dedicated to Božidar Vučković, a very productive 16th century printer. Open 09:00 - 20:00, Sat, Sun 09:00 - 14:00. Closed Mon.
  • Bird of Peace (Ptica Mira) D-1, Serdara Jola Piletića. The extraordinary Bird of Peace statue outside the Palada shopping centre is made from old guns, as are the seats around the statue. Unveiled in 2005, this is the result of the “Weapons in Art” initiative by the government in collaboration with UNDP. The sculpture is made of 500 weapons that were voluntarily handed in by the local population after the 1990s Balkan wars during the successful “Respect life - give back weapons” campaign. Artists from Montenegro, Serbia, Macedonia and Bosnia Herzegovina collaborated on the artworks.
  • Karađorđe Petrović Monument E-3, Karađorđev Park. The 3.5 metre high bronze monument for Karađorđe Petrović (1768-1817), depicts the famed general and politician with a sword. He’s best known as a national leader of the First Serbian uprising against the Ottomans in 1804. The statue was made by sculptor Sreten Stojanović in the 1960s and stands in the Karađorđev Park named after him, beside the Crna Gora hotel.
  • King Nikola Petrović Monument D-3, Bul. Sv. Petra Cetinjskog. King Nikola (1841-1921) was the
  • last king of Montenegro, a general, politician and poet. His impressive four-metre high statue, made by Risto Radmilović and situated in the park opposite Parliament, was unveiled in 2005 and shows Nikola seated on a horse on a red granite pedestal. Par tizan Memorial (Spomenik Par tizanu borcu) E-1, Gorica Hill Park. Podgorica’s most impressive memorial is this gleaming white mausoleum flanked by fierce-looking Partizan fighters on Gorica Hill. Built by architect Vojislav Đokić and sculptor Dragan Đurovic after a suggestion in 1953 by the Republican Alliance of Fighters, the grave and monument to national heroes was finished in 1957, when the mortal remains of the Partizans were laid to rest in the crypt. Above the crypt stands a grey marble slab with Partizanu Borcu in golden letters, with the incription “They loved freedom more than life” above it. The columns on either side have text reading “In the war of national liberation from 1941- 1945, 6,780 fighters from Montenegro fell”, and “7,479 sons and daughters of Montenegrin people were killed by fascist occupiers and domestic traitors”, followed by the names of the national heroes.
  • Petar II Petrović Njegoš Monument (Spomenik Petru II Petr oviću Njegošu) D-2, Stanka Dragojevića. The grand-looking figure sculpted in seated position with a pensive look and a book in his hand is Petar II Petrović Njegoš, the bishop, ruler, writer and philosopher. Located in the park that bears his name, it was made by Sreten Stojanović in 1954 and depicts the national hero in traditional Montenegrin ceremonial costume.
  • St Petar Cetinjski Monument (Spomenik Svetom Petru Cetinjskom) A-2. Petar I Petrović Njegoš (1747-1830), later known as Saint Petar Cetinjski was the bishop and founder of modern Montenegrin state. His three tonne, 6.8-metre-high statue in the Novi Grad district was sculpted by Nenad Šoškić and unveiled in 2006, and shows the saint in his modest bishop’s gown. The Bomb (Bomba) E-2, Miljana Vukova. The “Memorial to the Innocent Victims of the Bombing of Podgorica in World War I and II”, known locally simply as ‘The Bomb’, was placed in the open courtyard of this building in 1994, and commemorates the 4,100 ci tizens killed during the 70 Allied bombing raids
  • between 1943 and 1945, as well as the local casualties of the First World War. Architect Basil Knežević designed the monument, consisting of a triangular steel support holding up a large black bomb, with a bronze plaque.
  • Vladimir Vysotsky Monument (Spomenik Vladimiru Visockom) C-1, Jovana Tomaševića.
  • A wacky statue on the western side of the Moskovski pedestrian bridge commemorates this Russian poet, signer and actor. From the 1960s until his mysterious death in 1980, he wrote over 700 songs, many of which were translated into the Slavic languages of the other Eastern European countries. The hidden political satire in the lyrics made his songs all the more appealing. He toured through Yugoslavia and various other countries. His statue in Podgorica shows him barefoot and barechested, clutching his gui tar, and surrounded by a mirror frame and a skull, reminding of his last part in Hamlet, a few days before his death.

What to do in Podgorica

While in Podgorica, one can enjoy the diversity of Montenegro's capital cafes and restaurants, check out the nightlife, or take a walk at some of the favourite picnic locations of Podgorica citizens - Mareza, Skadar Lake, or Gorica hill. While strolling through Podgorica center, you might find the shopping area interesting, as there is vast number of boutiques, just beware the counterfeits!

Note that swimming in the Morača river might be a pleasant way to cool off in the summer months! The other option would be newly built open-air public swimming pools.

Shopping in Podgorica

The currency in Montenegro is the Euro (€). ATMs are widespread in the city center and the new part of town. Upscale shops and restaurants will usually accept any major credit or debit cards.

If you are coming in from neighbouring tourist filled Croatia, the prices here will seem unbelievably low.

Streets in the center of Podgorica are filled with boutiques, yet, one should be aware counterfeited clothes of world famous brands.

Most of the premium clothing brands have their stores in new part of the city, chiefly Vectra-Maxim neighborhoods. The prices are on par with those in the region.

There are a few shopping malls in Podgorica, most notably Delta City, a 48,000 sqm mall with over 70 stores, food court and a multiplex cinema, and Mall of Montenegro. There are also smaller malls, such as Palada and Nikić Center.

Open markets on the outskirts of the city are a place to buy very cheap clothing, often of low quality.

Touristic post cards seem to be not offered by shops in this city.

What to eat in Podorica

Podgorica and Montenegro too are very famous for food and drinks which are specific for this part of Europe. When we are talking about the drinks if you try some of the Montenegrin red wines or maybe Niksic bear, you will not be indifferent. This two products are a trademark of Montenegro and they also represent highest ranges in the European standards of quality.

Favorable geographic position of Podgorica as we have said gives it a great opportunity to produce the “nectar of life”, from the grape from the plantations 13th July with the technological processes, which is worth of respect in every way.

Vranac, Krstac, Procordem, and Chardonnay represent brands which in the recent time are even found on the tables on the North American market. Niksic bear in its light and dark variant are found in the offer of every Podgorica café. Brandy – alcoholic product specific for the Balkan countries, here is produced in several sorts. The most famous by all means would be the one made of grape – popular “lozovaca”, and then we have in the package of industry “13 jul” Kruna and Prvijenac which every tourist should taste in the same as one would try whiskey if he were in Scotland.

In Podgorica too, as in the majority of Montenegrin municipalities you can sense a great influence of national cuisine. Few meals are specific for Podgorica menu. If you wish to feel the spirit of Podgorica, you can try to prepare Podgorica “popeci” or carp in Podgorica way by yourself.

“Popeci”, a traditional Podgorica meal are actually pork fillets well beaten and salted. You need white cow’s cheese which should be kneaded in that way that you get a creamy mixture. Then, cheese is places in the middle of the beaten fillet, and you roll in the fillet and close it from the sides. You need to mix two eggs and you need bread crumbs. The rolled fillet you first dip in the egg, and then in bread crumbs, and then again in eggs and in crumbs, and you need to fry it deep in the oil, and on high temperature. With “popeci” usually goes a topping which is made from the equal amount of mayonnaise and sour cream, in which you add a little bit of parsley.

If you are a lover of river fish you can prepare a carp in Podgorica way. You have to chop onion and garlic, carrot, parsley and celery and to stew that well. In another pot you have to put dry plums to boil them a little bit. Raw carp is cut in places where you will cut the peaces later and it has to be salted well. Carp is baked in one peace. It is places in the pan, and you put around it the stewed vegetables, and previously strained plums. You pour in the pan the water to cover the carp and you put it in the oven to bake it.

Nightlife in Podgorica

Sod school and work, most Podgoricans spend all their lives sitting in one of the many cafés and bars. Open for first coffee early in the morning until the last beer or cocktail late at night, these places are where life happens.
In Montenegro, they can make alcohol out of any fruit and recommended local drinks include lozova rakija and šljivovica. Youngsters may need to prove they are over 18 before being served alcohol.

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Transfers - how to get from Podgorica airport to city center

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