Culture of Montenegro

The heritage of Montenegro belongs to the Pannonian-Danube and Mediterranean culture, and has been exposed to the Central and Eastern European civilisations. Montenegro is rich in such cultural venues as museums, art galleries, theatres and cinemas.

Pre-Roman, Roman, Baroque and Gothic styles may be observed in Montenegro’s painting, architectural decoration and carved stone along its seaside. The Bay of Kotor boasts the greatest concentration of cultural treasures in the region, especially in the city of Kotor, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The cathedral of St Tripun is the most prominent monument in the city, while additional artistic sacral monuments can be seen in the Savina Orthodox Monastery along the bay. Inland, the area of Lake Skadar is rich with such large monastery complexes as those of Moracnik, Kom, Starcevo, Beska, which are built on goricas (small islands). The fortresses of Lesendro and Zabljak also stand in the Lake Skadar area. Byzantine influence on fresco painting and architecture of the monasteries can also be seen inland. Moraca Monastery is famous for its cycle of St Ilija, one of the best 13th-century pieces of monumental painting in the Balkans. The monasteries of the Holy Trinity in Pljevlja, of Djurdjevi Stupovi and the Piva Monastery house religious paintings of cultural value. One of the most cherished spiritual points in Montenegro includes the Monastery of Ostrog, with its unique architecture.

Montenegro’s first literary pieces date back 1,000 years, while the first Montenegrin book was printed 500 years ago. In 1494, the first state-owned printing press, in Cetinje, was established; the same year the first South Slavic book was printed. Ancient manuscripts dating from the 13th Century are preserved in the country’s monasteries. Montenegro’s written word became the basis of literary development, but also of moral principles as well, as seen in the ethical-literary writing of Marko Milanov, called ‘vojvoda’. A popular writer of today includes Stefan Mitrov Ljubica, whose works are based on this style of writing. Some 250 books are published each year by the local press, and the country’s most popular newspapers include Pobjeda, Vijesti, Trend, Liberal and the weekly Monitor. Other sources of media include the MontenaFax news agency, one national television and seven radio stations.
The 20th Century was marked by a shift to modern literary trends, best observed in the works of such poets as Radovan Zogovic and Risto Ratkovic, who were influenced by the avant-garde. Mihailo Lalic is a distinguished figure who wrote in Montenegrin prose and authored realistic novels describing the turbulent events in the country during II World War. 

Montenegrin painters produced timely reactions to the artistic movements in the modern world, and transferred the local colour and visual potential of Montengro’s environment into symbols of Abstract Art. The works of Petar Lubarda, Dado Djuric, Vojo Stanic and Milo Milunovic are exhibited in famous galleries and museums throughout the world.

The country’s theatrical tradition began with the building of the Zetski Dom theatre in Cetinje in 1888, which also comprised a library and museum. The theatre created conditions for an institutionalised development of culture. In the 1950s, five professional theatres performed in the cities of Niksic, Cetinje, Pljevlja and Kotor, when Montengro led Europe in the number of theatres per capita. Today, the capital of Montenegro, Cetinje, is the centre of culture and art, while Podgorica is the main administrative and educational centre.

Montenegrin traditional culture once revolved around clans, groups of related families that maintained tribal identity according to their own territories. These were later integrated into the Yugoslav state and included in the public education system, but today still remain an important element in the social life of Montenegro. Though Montenegro has a relatively small population, the country has developed such cultural institutions as art galleries, museums, libraries, theatres and cinemas, which were part of the former state of Yugoslavia but now independent. The country has placed particular emphasis on sports activities and physical education, especially in the fields of hunting and fishing. The state has established several areas for recreation, including the national parks Lovcen, Biogradska Gor and Durmitor.