The Heart of Montenegro

November 2nd 2023 in Travel
The Heart of Montenegro

The Heart of Montenegro

Mount Lovćen National Park is a national park situated in the Dinaric Alps of Montenegro, centred around the iconic Mt. Lovćen. The mountain is significant to the Montenegrin people as it is the final resting place of their beloved hero, Petar II Petrović Njegoš. Despite being located in the southern part of the country, Lovćen National Park is considered the heart of Montenegro, and the country derives its name from this mountain.

Lovćen is the iconic setting that most websites and tourists use for a picture-perfect view of Montenegro. The scene includes a walkway leading to a guvno (also known as a gumno), which is a threshing floor. This terrace provides an epic lookout over the black mountains in the background, and locals say you can see the entire country from this revered spot.

Mount Lovćen

Petar Petrovic Njegoš is widely regarded as the greatest hero of the Montenegrin people. He lived in the Cetinje area from 1813 to 1851 and is celebrated for his contributions as a statesman, bishop, and the people's conscience. His leadership helped to protect Montenegro from Turkish attacks, and he is also known for his national masterpieces of poetry and literature.

During his lifetime, Njegoš expressed his desire to be buried on Mount Lovćen. Although it took a while for his wishes to be granted due to historical events after his death, his remains were eventually moved to the mountain in 1925. Despite attempts by the Italian army to blast his tomb with artillery during World War II, they were never able to hit it. In 1974, the world's tallest mausoleum (1660 meters above sea level) was completed on the mountain to honour Njegoš.

Ivan Mestrovic, the sculptor tasked with designing the mausoleum, aimed to create a structure honouring Njegoš and his central themes of "justice, freedom, and the dignity of Man and nations." When he submitted his design, Mestrovic refused compensation "except for a piece of cheese and the shoulder of a ram." Today, Njegoš is still revered by much of the local population.

National Park in Lovcen

Lovćen National Park is a popular retreat and vacation spot for Montenegrins. It offers various activities and attractions suitable for the entire family. The park features an adventure park, a large area with fixed tables and a grilling area, perfect for cookouts with friends and family. Additionally, public toilets are available for visitors. You can even set up camp and stay a few days to enjoy the beauty of nature and the cool summer mountain weather.

Located close to the mountain are several other places of interest, including Kotor, a charming coastal city; Cetinje, the former capital of the country; and Njeguši, a small village famous for its locally produced meats and cheeses.

Primitive camping is allowed at a designated spot partway up the mountain. Lovćen National Park is an ideal location to spend a day or several exploring the beauty of nature while enjoying quality time with friends and family.

Biodiversity in Lovćen National Park

Lovcen National Park boasts a unique combination of continental and Mediterranean climates, giving rise to a diverse range of habitats and abundant biodiversity. You can find 1158 distinct plant species within the park, four exclusive to the area. Some of these plants have medicinal uses and contain essential oils, which you can learn more about here. Bird enthusiasts will be delighted that the park is home to over 200 bird species. Furthermore, Lovćen National Park is home to several large and small mammals. One of them is the Montenegrin vole, a small rodent that has a different number of chromosomes in male and female specimens.

Adventures in the Park

The area has rocky peaks and grassy plains, making it easy to imagine an adventure. Apart from climbing the peaks, another great adventure in the area is a day-long hike from the peak of Lovcen down to the Old Town of Kotor. For those who want a great adventure with less environmental impact, there are trails of different lengths in the area. You can find a range of three to seven km routes through the local signage or maps, which are ideal for hiking or mountain biking.

Directions to Lovcen National Park

To reach the park, you can take Cetinski Put through Cetinje or the winding road at the Bay of Kotor. During peak season, visitors must pay an entrance fee of 2 euros per person.

The park offers breathtaking views, including the drive to the Njegoš mausoleum and the stunning overlook of the Bay of Kotor from Ivana Korita. Don't forget to stop at Hotel Ivanov Konak and try the Njeguši sandwich, made with fresh homemade bread, Njeguši pršut (prosciutto), and cheese.

As you drive through the forest, you will come across scattered private homes that have been there for generations. When you reach the ideal spot, the road turns into gravel, and you must hike the rest of the way through rocks. However, the majestic view of the Bay of Kotor will make it all worth it. Take a break, enjoy your picnic, and let the surroundings engulf you.

Attractions in Lovcen National Park

Apart from the mausoleum and gumno situated atop the peak, there are several other attractions and activities worth exploring. These features include bike and ATV rentals, open fields for various sports activities, countless walking and hiking trails, and designated picnic areas for relaxing. Additionally, there is an annual Lovćen Marathon that takes place in the spring within the park premises.