Photo credits: Predrag Vučković
19th-century travelers who wished to visit Montenegro began their journey in Rijeka, a city that belonged to Austria, and boarded a ship bound for Kotor from where they would go on foot to Montenegro’s capital Cetinje, one of the most visited places in our country at the time. During the voyage, the first stop was Zadar, the then capital of Dalmatia. The next stop was Split or Spalatto in Italian, known as one of the most beautiful cities on the Adriatic coast. The third port, before sailing into Kotor was Gruz in Dubrovnik.
This exquisite journey with subsequent ports, picturesque bays, and coastal cities would end in the breathtakingly magnificent Boka bay. French travel writer Xavier Marmier was mesmerized by Boka’s beauty that he deemed it worth the long voyage. He wrote that Boka bay resembles an estuary and that it is the definition of the most beautiful Norwegian fjord in its wayward winding along the contours of the surrounding mountains from Kotor out to the sea. Pierre Marge writes of Boka in a similar way. Namely, he described it as an immense fjord, the biggest, most beautiful, and most imposing in all of the Adriatic.
A steamship line between Trieste to Kotor was established in 1838 and the arrival of travelers to Montenegro was made significantly easier.
One of the travelers’ first sights upon sailing into Boka bay surrounded by towering cliffs of Orjen, Velja greda, Vrmac, and striking Lovcen were ruins of old fortifications and cities. To reach Montenegro after they arrived at Boka bay, travelers had to take the oldest path in Montenegro.
One of those travelers headed from Kotor to Cetinje was a German scientist Wilhelm Ebel. In his travel log Twelve days in Montenegro, he writes about needing a reliable man to escort him to Montenegro. He was assigned a guide named Petrarca who knew Montenegro as the palm of his hand. The road to Cetinje was arduous and required undivided attention, so much so that it left no room for conversation. They climbed one rock after the other, each as precarious as the one before. He wrote that he couldn’t have dreamt of a road such as that one. The end of the climb was nowhere in sight the more he looked, the worse it seemed. Nevertheless, he was amazed by the views stretching out to Kotor and the sheltering mountains to the South and the North. Skaljari and its surroundings resembled a flower garden, whereas small coastal settlements such as Stoliv, Prcanj, and Muo, were in a perfect lineup just as they were sailing in. The bay reflected vivid shades of the surrounding snow-covered mountain tops. The Adriatic Sea was shimmering in the distance, and at the very horizon behind the gathering clouds, the coast of Apulia hid.
Ebel writes: We walked, and then stopped to admire the spectacular views, walked some more, and then stopped again, and again…I just couldn’t get enough. This path was outstanding, yet very challenging and every traveler had to take it to reach Cetinje.
Ebel dedicated a few pages of his travelogue to Petar II Petrovic Njegos and his request made to Ebel to explore Lipa cave, a must-see attraction in Montenegro. You can read more on this topic in one of our upcoming blogs. In the meantime, check out Lipa cave’s tour schedule and plan your visit to one of the top attractions to see in Montenegro.