Story: The greatest hero of the Montenegrin people, Petar Petrovic Njegoš, lived in the Cetinje area (1813-1851). Today, he is celebrated as statesman, bishop, and the conscience of the people. He not only negotiated to keep most of Montenegro from succumbing to Turkish attacks, he also wrote national masterpieces of poetry and lit. During his lifetime, he picked Mount Lovćen as the place where he wanted to be buried. It took a while for his wishes to be granted due to historical events after his death, but in 1925 his remains were moved to the mountain. During World War II, the Italian army tried to blast his tomb with artillery, but never did manage a hit. Decades later, the world’s tallest mausoleum (1660 meters above sea level) was finished in 1974 to honor Njegoš.
The sculptor tasked with designing the mausoleum, Ivan Mestrovic, sought to design the structure to honor the man and his main themes of “justice, freedom, and the dignity of Man and nations.” Upon submitting his design, Mestrovic refused compensation “except for a piece of cheese and the shoulder of a ram.” That was the honor shown in 1970. Today, Njegoš is still revered. One of the nationals with us wanted Njegoš to propose to her. She was joking…sort of.
Vibe: The area is serene and beautiful. Of course, it should be. This is the spot Njegoš personally selected. Around the mausoleum there is honor shown for the memory of the man, but there’s not any rigidity about decorum. This is the only mausoleum I can think of that celebrates a national hero who wasn’t a dictator. The light-hearted feel of the place combined with the honor people show is, I believe, due to the fact that the people benefitted from his era of overseeing the people. He wasn’t without fault, but he was good.
Recommendations: Go here. The mausoleum is impressive especially for an entry fee of 3 euros. Njegoš’s story is important to understand if you want to explore the Montenegrin culture. And the surrounding view is amazing.
Notes: There are 3 things to be aware of: there are a few switchback roads; 461 steps to climb (no elevator here); and no guardrails. The last one is important if you are taking children or any childish travelers. The drop-offs are steep.
Place: The mausoleum is on top of Mount Lovćen.