Situated on the crossroads between East and West, Herceg Novi was exposed to the influence of Christianity and Islam and to the dominant empires and powerful metropolises over the centuries. This historical interweaving of different cultures and religions, in touch with the beauty, led to a unique synthesis of different styles. Herceg Novi on the ground alternated different civilizational and cultural heritage, leaving a deep imprint on the present appearance of Herceg Novi. Old Town Herceg Novi is an utmost charming and relaxing place to be and to walk around in, even if you want to get some fitness exercise walking the stairs up and down.
Tvrđava Mezaluna - Citadela
The Citadel of Herceg Novi was erected in 1702, under the Venetian occupation over the town. It was already ruined before the big earthquake stroke in 1979, but then big pieces of it was tore apart and fell into the sea. Generally citadel is a term for the strongest of strongholds inside a fortress where the civilians can seek protection under an attack, but this is located on the seashore with modest masonry in relation to the rest of the old town, almost as a prominent first line of defence. It is called in academic circles Tvrđava Mezaluna (fortress crescent moon), so the name Citadela probably occurred colloquially. Citadela was linked directly to the lower part of the old town by firm walls. When the railway was built, opened in 1901, the access to the citadel became a bridge. There are now planned to rebuild the Citadela.
Kula Sveti Anta
The fortification constitutes the corner to the south-east of the town walls, right down by the seafront between Citadela and the Vojničke Banje (originally a military quarantine) which doesn't exist anymore.
Fortification in Herceg Novi was already started in 1382 by the Bosnians when they founded the town. Forte Mare is the most striking part of the old town. It is built on solid rocks and is well preserved and conspicuous. As it is today, it assemblies from multiple time periods from the 14th to the 17th century as weapons technology increasingly demanded stronger defence. But it didn't always help much. At the foot of the fortress there is a water source, not for drinking anymore. The crusade from the Papal State, Venetians and Spaniards in 1687 surrounded the town and blocked their access to water supply. The conquest did not take long. Forte Mare was restored in 1833, according to a tablet above the entrance. Architecturally, the fortress is very exciting and with a dominant position. There is a gate from the sea leading to the top, where there is a coat of arms of the Bosnian peers on the wall engraved in a big stone.
The top of the fortress is a very special venue for activities and events, from 1952 as an open-air summer theatre and cinema; later came an open-air discotheque kind of hanging outside the edge of the tall masonry.
Trg Mića Pavlovića
In this square in the lower part of the old town there are given great concerts every now and then during the summer, often connected to the music school next to it. Or you can listen to students practicing when you walk by. This Musičke Škole was the town's secondary school earlier. In the center of the square stands the dominant Crkva Sveti Jeronima, the Catholic parish church from 1688. The Archbishop of Bar and the prominent Serbian Baroque poet and theologian Andrija Zmajević 1628-1694, a native of Perast dedicated it to Saint Jerome. The church was destroyed and restored again several times through history. It has a valuable collection of works of art. The church is also known as "Alda". Just a few steps down from Trg Mića Pavlovića you find the small and amazing Crkva Sveti Leopolda Mandić, built in the 17th century. This is a Catholic church as well and named after Saint Leopold Mandić who was canonized by Pope John Paul II. in 1983. Leopold Bogdan Mandić (1866-1942) was an ethnic Croat born in Herceg Novi. Physically malformed and delicate, having a height of only 1.35 m, with clumsy walk and stuttering, he developed tremendous spiritual strength during his lifetime.
The Perast Gate got its name as a tribute to Perast for the help they got from them to liberate Herceg Novi from the Turks in 1687. From this gate, a protective wall is proceeding to Kula Sveti Jeronima. This fortification was named in honour of Girolamo Cornaro, a Venetian and Dalmatian general who conquered the town in 1687, and freed it from the Turkish yoke.
Trg Nikole Đurkovića
This is the bigger square just outside the protective fortified walls. It is named honouring Nikola Đurković, a local hero from Second World War, and has lots of cafes and restaurants; even some shops. In the backstreet behind the square you can visit the greengrocers market every morning.
Zapadne Kula – Potkovičasta Kula
This fortress tower (East Tower) is what you see high above in the direction Kanli Kula if you are facing the stairs at the square Nikole Đurkovića.
In the steps between this square Nikole Đurkovića and square Belavista (beautiful view) we pass through Porta di Borgo (town gate) under Sahat Kula (Sat Kula). This watch tower and gate into the old town Herceg Novi was built in 1667 under the Ottoman occupation of the town. It was the main gate to the town with a wooden drawbridge over a moat (ditch) where a stream was flowing at that time. The bridge could be lifted up under threats and attacks. In the gate there is an inscription in Arabic: "this stronghold was erected in 1078/1667 by Mustafa Aga, attendant in the Sultan's Mosque, by order of Sultan Mahmud". The old mechanical watch in the tower was replaced in 1995 with an electric one, received as an act of friendship from the town of Zemun, Serbia, a fellow-town of Herceg Novi. In the arcade is a niche with a sculpture of the Black Madonna, made of burnt wood and dedicated to the memory of Tvrtko I Kotromanović, the town's founder. It was made by Afran Hozić from Sarajevo and received under the celebration of the town's celebration of the 600th anniversary.
Trg Herceg Stefana (Belavista)
Surrounded by nice buildings; with century-old palm trees and the fountain, this popular square is the most beautiful part of the old town, with its intimate cafes and restaurants. Central in the square dominates Crkva Sveti Mihaila Arhanđela (the Church of Saint Archangel Michael) from the 19th century. By its architectural ambience and harmony, and artistic touch, this temple is among the most beautiful in Montenegro. It is built in Byzantine baroque and Gothic style, and the icons were painted by the painter Franco Cigler and the iconostasis by Pavle Bilinić from Split. There is an Italian-Cretan circular icon of Saint Peter and Paul dating from the 16th century inside the church as well. Please pay attention to the beautiful lunette above the portal of the church. In the square we find the Archive of Herceg Novi municipality. The building was built in 1885, and is an example of late Gothic architecture. Destroyed in the big earthquake in 1979 it was soon rebuilt and contains collections from the institutions of Herceg Novi, dating back to the 17th century (the oldest document from 1685) and extends to the present day. Records contain documents related to the judicial administration, trade, shipping, health, migration, social relationships and the like. In the immediate vicinity of the Archive we find the town's Library with more than 30.000 books. Its collection includes old and valuable books, monographs, periodicals and cartographic publications, graphic maps and engravings, as well as other technical literature and fiction. Just before entering this square from Sahat Kula you will find the bookstore Mimoza; probably the smallest bookstore in Europe, but with lots of interesting titles.
Galerija Josip Bepo Benković
In the stairs just down from Belavista on the right side you find this gallery. On December 15th 1966, after closing of The Art School in Herceg-Novi, the Art Gallery was established under the protection of Soldier Union (from the Second World War), by artists and well - intentioned citizens. The Gallery was named after Josip Bepo Benković, the artist from Herceg Novi, who was executed in the Nazi concentration camp Banjica in 1943. The Winter Salon is the oldest annual manifestation on the Yugoslav artistic area following current artistic happenings in the world. The Gallery Josip Bepo Benković realized many independent exhibitions of the great importance for the cultural life on this environment during perennial performing. The permanent exhibition, which occurs partly through purchase awards Salon included: Luke Tomanović, Alexander Prijić, Branko Filipović-Filo, Milena Šotra, Vojo Stanić, George Pravilović, Duro Seder, Dmitar Manev, Aleksandar Cvetković, Mariah Ramujkić, Vasko Lipovac, Shams Gavrankapetanović-Rajnvajn, Mihailo Jovicević and Dragan Karadzić.
Mari (my daughter) and Silje adore Belavista, like me.
My very best friends in Herceg Novi; Adriana, Vesna and Nina too.
Kula Tarnovice and Izvor Karadža
The old town Herceg Novi is surrounded by a number of fortifications at strategic locations in the town walls. One of them, Tarnovice Tower is located in the upper town to the east of the Gate Karadža. Some say the fortress was linked with Kanli Kula through an underground tunnel which has been destroyed, probably from earthquakes. There is an iron door. Some says it hides the entrance to a tunnel all the way to Tvrđava Španjola. Just outside the gate, we find the Karadža stream, which has provided the town with fresh and clean water for hundreds of years. In the time of Turk occupation there were five water sources in the town, but now only two are available. It is believed that earthquakes have destroyed the other three. See "Jok Megdan" to understand the name Karadža (black source).
Stairs upwards through the upper town to Kanli Kula.
Kanli is a Turkish word and means bloody. This Bloody Tower was built by the Turks when they again occupied the town from the Spaniards in 1539. The lower part of the fortress was eventually used as a prison. The damage from the big earthquakes in 1667 and 1979 has been corrected. The last restoration was finished in 1988. The main entrance is to the north, and to the south there is the "Donkey's Gate" leading down to the old town. These gates were constructed by the Austrians when they occupied the town in the 19th century up to First World War. From 1966, the fortress has served as an open-air theatre, and for many years being the main arena for the International Film Festival in July-August. It started in 1987, and this year (2013) there will be the 27th festival. The theatre has more than 1,000 seats.
Mari is in a good mood after a romantic movie in this romantic scenery.
The area between Kanli Kula and the Magistral (main road) is an area called Jok Megdan. A legend explains the name; from the first time the Turks tried to conquer the town. In the heat of the fighting, the man with the town's highest rank challenged the Turkish commander to duel, which of course ended with the latter to retreat with his troops, crying out "jok megdan". In this legend it is very freely translated "no match". From this struggle the stream there where stained red from all the blood. The name of the water pump down in the old town has from that time carried the name Karadža that mean "black water". In this language they don't make a distinction between red and black, such as red wine, called "crno vino" (black wine).
This large and complex fortification is located at the top of the hill above the district Bajer. It carries its name from the period of nine months with Spanish occupation in 1538-1539. Some say they restored it, but the Turks had built it. The fortress is also known as "Upper Town". Others say that on the same spot was an old fortification called "Karla V" (after the holy Roman/German/Spanish emperor 1519-58), but the Turks tore that down to build a new when they expelled the Spaniards. The work was completed in 1548 with characteristics from oriental architecture, and there was later continuing improvements. Above the entrance there is an Arabic inscription. This fortress lost its strategic importance in the mid 19th century with the completion of the fortresses in the entrance to the bay, Mamula, Arza and Prevlaka. It is believed that there was a connection with the lower old town in an underground tunnel. During Second World War Španjola was used as a prison. Španjola is well preserved, with a number of buildings within the walls, including a mosque.
From Španjola Guro has an extraordinary view back down to the Old Town Herceg Novi.
Old Town Herceg Novi