Ulcinj – town of the tumultuous past and glorious tradition. Placed above the rocks, like the ship which sails into sea, the old town has been causing waves during more than two and a half thousand years. Nobody could conquer it from the sea although the sea waves plash it from the three sides. Old tower had been attacked by many conquerors who, during their departure, left behind them traces of their civilization. Town the walls of which were „woven“ from the Illyric-Cyclop stones, after each invasion became rich in a spiritual and cultural way, not losing anything from its originality and unique quality.
Ulcinj – antique Olcinium, medieval Dulcinium is a town of a tumultuous past and calm present, decorated with the Romanic, Gottic and Oriental architecture.
In the fifth century B.C. it is supposed that Greek collonists from Colihida lived here and named it Colhinium. In the second century B.C. their settlements were conquered by Romans. After that the town became a part of Byzanty and later on a part of the state of Zeta. There you can see remnants of the old town Svacha – medieval centre of the reign of Zeta in which, according to the legend, there were as much churches as days in the year! Growth. With the development of the saltworks which was located in the region of Skadar and Ulcinj feudal Balshichs dynasty which ruled Zeta, achieved economic growth. About the year 1360 Balshichs were the biggest feudal lords in Zeta. They also used to deliver salt to the court of Nemanichi. In the year 1403 Đurađ II Stracimirovich, descendant of the founder of the dinasty – Balsha I died from the wounds inflicted to him in the battle against Turks in Grachanica where he had lead his troups to help Stefan Lazarevich. Đurađ was burried in the Sveta Katarina (Saint Catherine) church in Ulcinj. He considered Ulcinj the capital of his state.
In the year 1405 town was conquered by the Venetian Republic.
A part of the population who lived along the coast was engaged in piracy. This “craft” especially flourished as 400 pirates – Arabians from Molta, Tunisia and Algiria populated Ulcinj during the 14th century. They used to attack merchant ships belonging to Dalmatian towns, Venetian Republic and other maritime states as they passed along the coasts. During the period of Turkish reign, Ulcinj was the “capital” of the pirates of the Adriatic Sea and one of the biggest “market” of the wreched people in this part of the world. After the battle at Lepanto (the year 1571) pirate captain Eulg-Ali got a permit from Sultan to live in Ulcinj together with his forty assistants. The sea robbers raged along from Cavtat to Peloponesus until the beginning of the 19th century. Pirates used to bring black boys from Africa and trained them to serve at table. The adult ones were dressed in the vestment of the striking colours and during the pirate robberies they were urged to jump first into the deck of the attacked ship which aroused panic among the crew of the ship.
According to the tradition famous Spanish writer Miguel de Servantes spent whole five years in a slavery in this town. He was inspired by the girl – local resident for which he thought to be the prototype of the beloved woman of the legendary Don Quixote. Thus in his novel the girl got a name Dulcinea by the name of the town from that time.
Balshich’s Tower in the Old Town was the place where Sabataj Cevi, famous leader of the Jewish uprising, reformer and interpreter of Talmud, lived at that time. By accepting the Islamic religion in the year 1676 he died there under the name Mehmed – Effendi.
In some way The Old Town consists of two parts: the upper town – citadella which is constructed on the highest plateau of the rocky peninsulla, which is spread all over the southern part.
You can enter the old part of Ulcinj from the North-East or from the bay through the main entrance. Here you can find The Slaves Market, Balšića kula (the tower of Balshich) from XII century in which the artistic collony has been located. Across the gallery there is The Ethnologic Museum. Furthermore toward the South, accross the other there are two splendid buildings: Dvorac Balšića (Castle of Balshichs) and Venecijanski Dvorac(Ventian Castle). The Saint Nicholas Orthodox church is located in the western part of the old town. During the age of the Turkish empire, the church had been reconstructed into the mosque but in the year 1890 it again became the church as a memory dedicated to the strugglers who perished in the war during the year 1878. Pašina džamija (the mosque of pasha) was constructed in the year 1719. In the close vicinity of the mosque there is a Turkish bathroom – the only structure of the kind in Montenegro.
In the norhern part there are two churches. One of them like the one in the Old Town bearing the name of Saint Nicholas. The church was dedicated to the termination of the Turkish administration in Ulcinj.
At Pristan which offers magnificent view to the Old Town, especially by night, there is Mala plaža, the most famous beach on the whole Montenegrin coast. It is located between the peninsula Ratislav and the ancient remnants of the castle.
The market which is situated in the main town street makes Ulcinj different from other coastal towns. Here, especially on Tuesday and Friday which are main days for the purchase on the local market, you can buy beautiful local products, fresh milk, cheese, eggs, fruits and vegetables, olives and olive oil while the passionate smokers can find the tobacco from Ostros which is the best product of the kind in Montenegro.
Domestic products are prevailing at the Ulcinj market which is illustrated in the best way by a “show” of national costumes from the periphery of Ulcinj which are worn by the majority of women who sell their products. Dressed in their national costumes they show where they come from and this fact is by itself the best guarantee for the quality of the goods they sell.
Ulcinj is the only town in Montenegro, surrounded by the fertile plain on which the high quality fruit and vegetables are cultivated. There is also the exotic Shasko Lake which is called by the ornithologists: “The Skadar Lake Miniature”. It is rich with the fish and water birds as well as Shtoj – the unique hunting event along the Adriatic coast.
According to the legend from the Middle Ages, young men couldn’t get married if they previously hadn’t planted at least ten seedlings of olive trees. Ulcinj is famous for its olives, South Adriatic exotic plants and the experts for olives. In its suburb there is the biggest olive grove in the country with the several hundred years old trees…
The things we mentioned are only a pale reflexion of the sumptuous natural riches of this region the air of which is imbued with the smell of wormwood, wild lavender and melliferous herbs.
Love at first sight toward the end of the magnificent untouched nature, toward the pure and transparent Adriatic Sea has left a deep trace in the hearts of many writers and thinkers like Lord Bayron, George Bernard Show, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature – Ivo Andrich. This love inspired them to write verses about the beauty of these areas.
Come to the hospitable, wise and magnificent Ulcinj! It shall invigorate you by returning your vital energy to you and shall create the unforgettable impressions.
No. of inhabitants: 20 000
Location: 95 km South from Podgorica, 25 km from Bar.
Airport: Tivat (85 km), Podgorica (95 km).
You can come there from Podgorica more quickly (it is possible to avoid the jammed places in Budva and Bečići).
Bus station: middle of the Bratstva jedinstva boulevard.
Buses running through the coastal area and toward the central part – twice during the hour.
Moving throught the town – by foot or by taxi.