For most visitors, Podgorica is the first place they will arrive when visiting Montenegro. From the Podgorica airport, you can rent our car and go on a journey through the city and explore a wider area of the country. Podgorica is a good starting point for visiting both the North of the country, with its wild beauty, and the coastal towns, with amazing sights and beautiful Old Towns.
Why visit Podgorica?
Podgorica is the capital city of Montenegro. Its history dates back to ancient times when the area was inhabited by Illyrian tribes. In the 3rd century BC, the area was conquered by the Romans, who established a settlement called Doclea.
In the Middle Ages, the region came under the rule of various powers, including the Byzantine Empire, the Kingdom of Hungary, and the Serbian Empire. In historical records of the time Podgorica is called Ribnica.
During the Ottoman period, the city was an important trading center and was known as Birziminium. In the late 19th century, Podgorica became part of the Principality, and later the Kingdom Montenegro.
During World War II, it was heavily bombed and almost destroyed. After the war, it was rebuilt as the capital of the Socialist Republic of Montenegro, which was part of Yugoslavia. Under the communist regime (1946-1992), its name was Titograd. The city underwent significant urban development in the 1970s and 1980s, with the construction of new buildings and infrastructure.
Following the breakup of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, Podgorica became the capital of the state of Montenegro, which with Serbia formed the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, which was later renamed Serbia and Montenegro. Since 2006, Podgorica is the capital city of the independent Republic of Montenegro. Since then, the city has continued to develop and modernize, with new buildings, roads, and cultural institutions.
What to visit?
Podgorica and its close surroundings have many important monasteries. You can visit them effortlessly with our car rental:
– Morača Monastery was erected in 1252 by prince Stefan Nemanjić. A part of the Municipality of Kolašin, it is known for its frescoes, some of which are from the 13th century. One of these is one of the most famous medieval frescoes in the area: a raven feeding the prophet Elijah.
While you are in Kolašin, you should also visit the canyon of the Morača river. It is the second-largest canyon in the country, and it is truly a stunning sight.
– Monastery Ćelija Piperska. This 17th-century monastery is just 17 km from Podgorica. It is known for its founder Saint Stefan Piperski, whose remains are held in the monastery. It was destroyed by the communist regime following World War II, but it has since been rebuilt, and it is a nunnery now.
– Dajbabe monastery. Built in the late 19th century by the saint Simeon of Dajbabe, the Interesting thing about this monastery is that its interior is a natural cave, and many frescoes were painted by the founder himself until he died in 1941. It is known for its tranquil atmosphere.
– Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ is the largest Church in Podgorica. And, although it was completed in 2013, it’s one of the symbols of the city. It is known for its beautiful frescoes and mosaics.
– Ostrog monastery is situated in the Municipality of Danilovgrad, just 50 km from Podgorica, and is by far the most popular pilgrim’s place in Montenegro. It was built by Basil the Wonderworker in the 17th century, on a sheer cliff, overlooking the Bjelopavlići plain. It appears to be almost carved into the rock face.
– Another important monastery close to Podgorica is – Cetinje monastery. With many important relics, such as the right hand of John the Baptist, this monastery is also well worth visiting.
Stara Varoš neighborhood offers a few sights from the Ottoman times. This is a rarity in Podgorica since most of the cultural heritage was destroyed during the bombing in World War II. The most important ones are:
The Ribnica Fortress was built in 1477 and was used as an ammunition warehouse. The fortress is also called Nemanjin grad (Nemanja‘s town) because it is believed that the founder of the Serbian Nemanjić dynasty Stefan Nemanja was born in it.
The Clock Tower was erected in the mid-17th century. After the Ottoman rule ended, Montenegrins put a cross on top of it. It is 19m high, and from the top of it, you can enjoy panoramic views of the city.
Adži-Pasha bridge is the oldest bridge in Podgorica. It is hard to say when it was originally built, probably in Roman times, but it was rebuilt by Adži-Pasha Osmanagić in the early 18th century.
The National Museum of Montenegro, the Contemporary Art Center, and the Natural History Museum are all in Podgorica, and they are a must-see for history and art fans.
Podgorica also offers many festivals and manifestations, such as:
– International Festival of Alternative and New Theatre. Held in June, it showcases innovative and experimental theatre productions from all around the world.
– Montenegro Beer Fest in August. If you are a beer lover, you can enjoy many local and international beer brands here.
– Podgorica Cultural Summer is a series of cultural events and performances throughout the summer months in various locations around the city. It includes music concerts, theater performances, dance shows, and art exhibitions.
– Podgorica International Film Festival in December showcases many regional and international films. It includes screenings, Q&A sessions with filmmakers, and workshops for aspiring filmmakers.
– Podgorica book fair – the largest book fair in the country. Many famous writers from the region and occasionally some renowned European writers are guests at the festival.
All the Montenegro National Parks, namely Biogradska gora, Durmitor, Lovćen, Skadar Lake, and Prokletije are at most around 2h drive away from Podgorica and some of them are less than an hour away. They are all well worth visiting and are known for their wild beauty, many endemic species, and many organized activities (such as rafting on Tara river, the largest and deepest European canyon).
Podgorica and its surroundings offer a great deal, whether you are a nature or culture lover, so by renting a car you can visit all the places at your own pace, and revel in them as much as you want. Have fun!