If you are interested in discovering Old Montenegro – the territory of the Principality of Montenegro as recognized by the Berlin Congress in 1878 – I would like to recommend you to make a round trip through one of its four typical areas or “nahije”, Lješanska nahija. We made the tour on a sunny day in May, a period when this region shows an abundance of flora and fauna.
Leaving Podgorica in the direction of Cetinje, we turned right near Farmaci, following the signpost to Draževina. The narrow asphalt road was edged by figs, pomegranates and other subtropical trees. A big turtle was trying to find its way through the bush and a sheltopusik (also called European legless lizard or in Latin Pseudopus apodus) was quietly trying to cross the road (photo 2). This lizard (no, it is not a snake) can reach a length of 135 cm, it looks like a giant earthworm and is not dangerous. But don’t touch it, it can bite!
We soon reached the village of Krusi, where we admired the obelisk, dedicated to the famous battle (1796) that Sveti Petar Cetinjski fought against the Turks. There is also a big threshing floor (guvno) and a beautiful old church (photo 3) with a small graveyard on the top of a hill, from where we had a magnificent view of the surroundings.
The road continued to Draževina and Buronji, nice villages with beautiful old stone houses, characterized by large stone arches and cellars. Lješanska nahija is also part of the ethno-gastronomic routes and tourists have the opportunity to visit typical guesthouses in this area where they can taste wine and eat traditional Montenegrin food. For further information see www.ethnogastro-balkan.net.
Our next stop was in Progonovići (keep right, follow the signpost), a picturesque village on the slope of the karst mountains (photo 5). We parked at Radun’s Tower (Kula Radunova) which was mentioned by Petar II Petrović Njegoš, prince-bishop of Montenegro, in his famous work “Mountain Wreath” (1846). The tower has been restored and offers a great view of the surroundings. Another interesting site is „Jamica“, a natural and very deep well, the water of which can be reached by corkscrew stairs.
Typical for this area are the traditional stone houses covered with stone plates (photo 1). Some of them are – although dilapidated – still used and their interior has not changed for many decades (photo 4). Exactly that is the reason that around ten Montenegrin movies were made in Progonovići, with participation of many inhabitants of the village. The movie of the famous director Živko Nikolić, “Ljepota poroka” (“The Beauty of Vice” – 1986) that was shot here, was distributed in 80 countries.
Turning back and following the road to Štitari (keep left and then right and once more right) we were pleasantly surprised to see a hoopoe (Upupa epops) with its beautiful colors and “crown” of feathers (photo 6). Along the road, an old farmer was already cleaning up his property, using his traditional sickle (photo 7).
At the junction with the signpost to Mikulići, we kept left and after 10 km we were back on the main road from Podgorica to Cetinje, by which we completed our round trip. The whole tour is around 70 km long and can easily be done on a beautiful afternoon.