You rented a car in Herceg Novi, and don’t know what to visit? Let us help you learn more about Herceg Novi and all the sights and manifestations you can explore!
History of Herceg Novi
Herceg Novi is a coastal town situated at the entrance to the Bay of Kotor. It was founded in 1382 by the king of the medieval state of Bosnia, Tvrtko I Kotromanić. He wanted to make Herceg Novi port and salt trading center that could rival Dubrovnik. Dubrovnik prevented all the boats from Dalmatia from reaching Herceg Novi, thus effectively putting an embargo on Herceg Novi. Despite this setback, Herceg Novi grew in importance over time nonetheless. The original name of the Herceg Novi was Sveti Stefan.
Sveti Stefan was later named Herceg Novi. “Herceg” was derived from the title of the town’s third ruler, Herzog Stjepan Vukčić Kosača, while “Novi” means “New” since it was the youngest coastal town in the Bay of Kotor for many years. In foreign historical sources, it was often called Castelnouvo, meaning New castle in Italian.
What to visit
Winner of the Nobel prize in Literature and maybe the most well-known citizen of Herceg Novi, Ivo Andrić called Herceg Novi “the town of the sea, the Sun, and everlasting greenery.” The house of the writer became a famous cultural site for literature lovers.
Herceg Novi is indeed always green. Since the early 20th century, sailors have been bringing exotic plants from all over the world. One such plant, Mimosa (Acacia dealbata), originally from Australia, became the symbol of Herceg Novi after the establishment of the Mimosa festival (Praznik Mimoze) in the late 1960s. The festival is held every February, with many musical stars from all over the region performing. The parade, with the traditional music players and majorettes, brings the visitors to Baošići, where they can taste some fish and wine.
After that, the musical program begins, and it lasts for days. One must-see event is the costume ball, with many innovative masks and costumes. Arts lovers will enjoy a Winter salon in the gallery. There you can see many great works from famous artists from the region. There is also a Wine salon with some great wines. Another popular event during the festival is the race on the small sled-like vehicles called “karići” (derived from the English car). It’s especially popular among young adults. The rest of the program varies from year to year, adding a novelty to the festival.
Herceg Novi is known for its fortresses and rich cultural life
Kanli kula fortress is an open-air amphitheatre built originally by Ottomans in 1539. One century later, the Venetians, after taking control of the town, added new and repaired the old walls. The purpose of the fortress changed sometime during Ottoman rule, and the fortress became a prison. The name originated from that time, meaning the Bloody tower. The amphitheatre can seat more than 1000 spectators, and it holds quite a few cultural events, such as:
– Guitar Art Summer Fest brings some world-renowned guitar players every year. It is a real treat for guitar lovers.
– A festival of classical music and opera Operosa Montenegro Opera Festival. If you are a fan of classical music, you are in for a treat.
– Montenegro film festival. This festival is the most important film festival in Montenegro and one of the most important in the region. The competing program of the festival is held in Kanli Kula. The festival’s Grand Prix’s name is Golden Mimosa.
Another important part of the festival, called Kino Evropa is held on another fortress – Forte Mare. There you can watch the latest films from the major European film festivals.
Forte Mare was built between the 16th and 17th centuries. The Venetians gave it a name in the 17th century. It means Sea Fortress in Italian. It is located strategically at the bay’s entrance. It was an integral part of the Venetian defensive system. Austrians repaired it in the 19th century. Another major summer event in the fortress is the Festival of Electronic music.
The best-preserved fortress in Herceg Novi is Španjola. It is situated on Bajer hill overlooking the town. Originally a smaller fort built by Ottomans in 1482, it was expanded and reinforced during the one-year rule of Spaniards (1538-9). After reconquering it, the Ottomans demolished it and built a new fortress. During the 19th century, Austro-Hungary repaired it and used it extensively.
The Old town of Herceg Novi is halfway between Kanli Kula and Forte Mare. Both are some five minutes away. While in the Old Town, you should also see its main symbol – Sat kula (The Clock Tower).
The municipality of Herceg Novi is also known for its many churches – 89 to be exact (75 Orthodox, 14 Catholic) and 12 localities with the remains of the churches.
The most important are remains of the Church of Saint Thomas the Apostle (Crkva svetog apostola Tome) in Kuti. It is undoubtedly the most interesting pre-romanesque monument of the Bay of Kotor. Many of its remains are in the Herceg Novi museum.
Although all the churches in Herceg Novi are worth your time, we will mention only the most eminent one, Savina Monastery. It is close to the Old town (15 minutes walk). The main, larger church was built in the late 18th century and the smaller church in the 15th century at the latest. Both churches have the same name: The Dormition of the Mother of God (Uspenje Presvete Bogorodice).
Catholic saint Leopold Mandić was born in Herceg Novi, and one Catholic church in town bears his name.
Herceg Novi is an ideal location to explore neighboring countries. With our car rental in Montenegro, you can visit Dubrovnik or Trebinje in less than an hour and swiftly explore the entire Bay of Kotor. Contact us to rent a car and explore all the beauty in the region!