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Culture & People
 
 
 

General

The culture of present-day Montenegro is as pluralistic and diverse as its history and geographical position would suggest. Montenegro 's culture has drawn influences from ancient Greece, ancient Rome, Christianity, Islam, Byzantine Empire, Bulgarian Empire, Serbian Empire, Ottoman Empire, Republic of Venice, Austria-Hungary and Yugoslavia.

Montenegro 's capital Podgorica and the former royal capital of Cetinje are the two most important centres of culture and the arts in the country.

A very important dimension of Montenegrin culture is the ethical ideal of "Čojstvo i Junaštvo", roughly translated as "Humanity and Bravery". Another result of its centuries long warrior history, it is the unwritten code of Chivalry that stipulates that to deserve a true respect of its people, a person has to show virtues of integrity, dignity, humility, self-sacrifice for the just cause, respect for others and rectitude along with the bravery. In the old days of battle, it resulted in Montenegrins fighting to the death as being captured was considered the greatest shame.

This code of conduct is still very much ingrained, to greater or lesser extent, in every Montenegrin's ethical beliefs system and it is essential that it be kept in mind in order to truly understand them. Coming from non-warrior backgrounds, most of other South-Slavic nations never fully grasp it, resulting in reactions from totally ignoring it, in the best case, to mocking it or ignorantly equating it with backwardness.

Most of extraordinary examples of Montenegrin conduct during its long history can be traced to the code.

Architecture

Montenegro has a number of significant cultural and historical sites, including heritage sites from the pre-Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque periods. The Montenegrin coastal region is especially well known for its religious monuments, including the Cathedral of Saint Tryphon, the basilica of St Luke (over 800 years), Our Lady of the Rock (Škrpjela), the Savina Monastery and others. Montenegro 's medieval monasteries contain thousands of square metres of frescos on their walls. The Byzantine influence in architecture and in religious artwork is especially apparent in the country's interior. The ancient city of Kotor is listed on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

The majority of architecture of Montenegro is Byzantine, Latin (Gothic, Romanesque, Baroque) and Ottoman.

Literature

The first literary works written in the region are 10 centuries old, and 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’.

On the substratum of traditional oral folk epic poetry, authors like Petar II Petrović Njegoš have created their own expression. His epic Gorski Vijenac (The Mountain Wreath), written in the Montenegrin vernacular, presents the central point of the Montenegrin culture, for many surpassing in importance even the bible. A popular writer of today includes Stefan Mitrov Ljubica, whose works are based on this style of writing.

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.


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