While Montenegro is a young country, still largely unknown, it is quickly gaining momentum. Tourists from all over the world are flocking to this beautiful small country with stunning beaches and mountain ranges. There are a lot of things that one can do in this small country, but one aspect that will stand out from the rest is that there are a lot of castles in montenegro, They are filled with thousands of years of history and these palaces are spread all over the country.
7 castles in montenegro
The castles of Montenegro are as unique as the country itself, but one thing they all have in common is that they are just as spectacular and impressive. Here are our picks for the top forts in Montenegro.
1. Palace of San Giovanni
The castle is also known as St. John’s Castle and is situated 1200 meters high on the hills of the same name. The palace was built by the Byzantine emperor Justinian I. Since then, the palace has stood the test of time, where it has survived battles, bombings, and even earthquakes. San Giovanni Castle is protected by the Municipality of Kotor, and together with the old town of Kotor, the fortifications of San Giovanni were included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 1979 under the Natural and Cultural-Historical Region of Kotor. Although the castle itself is not in the best condition, the view over the Bay of Kotor from there is spectacular. But, the climb from the Old Town to the castle is not easy; There will be a lot of traffic the entire way as you will have to climb approximately 1,350 steps to reach the top. It’s not an easy trip at all, but the view of the castle and the bay make it worthwhile.
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2. Zmajevic Palace
Located in the stunning port of Perast on the Bay of Kotor, it is often called the ‘Bishopric’, as it was the residence of two bishops, Andrija and Vicko Zmajević, and the place is named after the latter. The palace itself is magnificent with an octagonal-shaped clock tower, which can be seen from the other end of the city, and a chapel dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary. There is also a statue of Andrija Zmajević in the complex. The palace has to be reached by boat, as it is built on a rock on the other side of the city. The stone structures and architecture are amazing and the complexity of it makes you wonder how patient and talented the workers must have been. The view from the castle is great and as you climb some stairs, the view gets even better. It is said that this palace is now a museum.
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3. Grubonja Palace
Located in the old town of Kotor, near the northern city gate, the castle belonged to the noble family of Grubonja, after whom the castle is named. It is said that the family settled in Kotor from Zadar. If you take a look at it at first glance, it doesn’t look like a ‘classic’ palace that you might have seen in the movies. But, you will definitely be surprised when you see this palace closely. Although it was once rebuilt, it still retains that charm. On the windows of the first floor you can see a stone tablet with the monogram of Jesus Christ. Below this is an image of a skull and crossbones, with snakes passing through the skull and a mouse, rat and tortoise hovering below the skull. It is said that it is the symbol of the pharmacy in the old city. On the other hand, the window frames on the second floor remind you of the Renaissance period, with images of lion heads carved on them. The northern side of the palace leads to the entrance to the upper part of the fort. An arch, with a medallion, within which a winged lion of St Mark forms the entrance. This is a beautiful palace in the city of Kotor and should not be missed.
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4. Palace of King Nicholas
Located in the city of Bar, the Palace of King Nicholas was the residence of the country’s first sovereign, King Nicholas I Mirkov Petrovich-Nyegosh. Located right on the seashore, this castle also has a palace, a chapel and a winter garden. It was once the threshold of political power, now it is a museum. The architecture of this palace, or rather a manor, is elegant and impressive at the same time. While the larger palace has the added feature of an attic compared to the smaller palace, they both face the sea and the view is nothing short of amazing. You can see exhibits from the Turkish era, old furniture, national costumes, souvenirs from the royal yacht that were rescued from the seabed. Interestingly, the museum built in this castle has a room dedicated to the process of making olive oil, one of the things that Montenegro is famous for. The garden in which the palace is built is as beautiful as the palace itself and you can walk around the garden as the sea breeze hits your face. What could be more comfortable than this!
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5.Ruins of Pandurika Palace
Well, it is not a fairy-tale palace but the ruins of a palace and that is what makes a visit to this place even more interesting. It is located in the city of Niksic and is now a cultural monument. It was built by Strakimir Balšić, the then ruler of the Zeta principality. The Turks kept attacking the castle all the time, but it was rebuilt every time. The city was liberated from the Turks in 1877. Prince Nikola then decided to build a new road and a bridge over the Zeta River to connect the place to the capital of Podgorica. In the process, the palace fell into ruins. Restoration work is going on, but still the beauty of the ruins cannot be diminished and it is worth a visit.
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6. Zbljak Crnojevica Castle
It is a fortified city in Montenegro, about 15 kilometers from the capital of Podgorica. The castle, or rather the fortress, is said to have been the capital of Zeta under the Crnojević dynasty. You can drive up to a certain point up to the castle and it’s not a bad drive either, with the views keeping you engaged the entire time. There are some stairs at the entrance that lead to the palace gate. Once you enter the courtyard, you enter a different world altogether. There are walls and courtyards that have remained strong for so long. There are rooms whose windows are still clearly visible and not rusted. But, what makes the trip there worthwhile is the view that you get from the top of the palace. The Skadar Lake below glistens as the sun’s rays reflect on the surface of the water and if you stay until evening, the sunset from the palace is also spectacular.
7. Bujovic Palace
The city of Perast is full of palaces and Bujovic Palace is one of them. It is considered one of the finest architectural examples of the Renaissance era and was built by an Italian named Giovanni Battista Fontana. The main façade of this palace, which is now a museum, faces the sea. An interesting fact about this castle is that the stones that were used to build this architectural delight were taken from the destroyed walls of Herceg Novi. This palace has five balconies and has Baroque style elements which have been used extensively, which you will witness when you visit this place. Now a city museum, the collection you will find here has been donated by locals and descendants of famous families from this part of the city. The exhibits include portraits of famous sailors from Perast and other objects, including weapons, that are unique to this city.
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The castles in Montenegro are fascinating. While some lie in ruins, some others have been converted into museums. In the case of museums, they still retain the core essence of the palaces they used to be. Either way, these palaces may not be like fairy tales, but tell you stories of bygone eras, wars won and lost, and stories of the country’s rulers.
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