Podgorica, the capital of Montenegro, is not the most beautiful place in the country, but the city is definitely worth a visit, due to its interesting mix of old and new, its café culture and nightlife and its Mediterranean atmosphere. I have often acted as a guide for my foreign guests and in order to show them the most important attractions of the city, I have designed a two-hour walking tour (museum visits excluded) around the central part of the city.
The tour starts at the central square, Trg Republike. A parking lot in earlier times, the square has been reconstructed and nowadays it serves as a meeting point for Podgorica’s 150,000 inhabitants. Turn right into the main street, ul. Slobode, where you can find a lot of nice boutiques, and take a look at the Crna Gora Hotel, which was built in the 1950s and is now reconstructed, as it has been taken over by the Hilton group. Turn left behind the hotel and continue, along the Karađorđev Park, to the crossroad. There you will see (on the left) the City Museum that is absolutely worth a visit. It has magnificent archeological and ethnographic collections. If you take the steps down just on the left side of the bridge, you will reach the Ribnica river and the popular international bookshop “Karver” where you can also have a cup of coffee on the river bank. As a matter of fact, this building is the former Turkish bath complex of the city that was, unfortunately, “decapitated” by the bridge.
Continue the walking tour to the 18th century Sahat Kula, the Ottoman clock tower in the old oriental part of Podgorica. Indeed, the tower does not have a clock, but that doesn’t seem to bother anyone. Behind the tower you can roam through the narrow winding streets and see two small mosques and many old houses. Passing the remnants of the old Ribnica fortress, erected by the Turks in 1474, you can descend to the place where the Ribnica river joins the Morača (if you cannot find it, ask for “Sastavci”). Near the 15th century Ottoman arched stone bridge, there is a popular recreation area.
On the other side of the emerald-green Morača river, you can see the Podgorica Hotel, made of pebbles and stones from the river bed, with three large terraces above the river. You can reach the main boulevard Nemanjina Obala near the Blažo Jovanović bridge by taking the steps going up after having passed the Turkish bridge. This boulevard is well-known for its governmental buildings in Tito’s style: the parliamentary building, the National Bank and the Presidential building. Now pass the bridge and turn left at the traffic lights. At the next crossroad, behind the US Embassy, you will see one of the most beautiful parks of the city, Park Kruševac. Here you can visit the National Art Gallery that is located in the former Petrović palace that once belonged to King Nikola I. Worth a visit!
The walking tour takes you further through the district “Preko Morače”, where old Soviet-style concrete buildings alternate with modern glass facades. This is the area where you can find office buildings, banks, the university, governmental facilities and boutiques, but also many residential buildings. In front of the university building is the impressive monument of St. Petar Cetinjski, bishop and founder of the Montenegrin state. Enjoy the walk through Boulevard Džordž Vašington with its high fashion boutiques and continue to the Orthodox Cathedral of the Resurrection, which is still under construction. The exterior of the church is a mix of rough stone and polished marble, while the crypt and dome paintings are quite stunning.
The Millennium Bridge has become the new symbol of the city with its connotations of modernism and future aspirations. It was built in 2005 and has a length of 140 m.
On the right side of the bridge is a pedestrian bridge that was donated by the city of Moscow, with the original sculpture of a Russian musician. After having passed the pedestrian bridge, you will directly enter the pedestrian zone: Hercegovačka and Njegoševa street. This part of the city is a shopping paradise, but there are also many restaurants and cafés. Take a cup of black coffee on one of the numerous terraces and watch the world goes by! Enjoy the city especially in the evening, when the bridges are lit up nicely, the streets are full of young people and the atmosphere is relaxed!