Some people say that Podgorica is boring and unattractive. I don’t agree! But it‘s true: Podgorica got a new face last summer, which makes it much more interesting, not only for tourists but also for local inhabitants! In July, an environmental exhibition of sculptures made by Danilo Baletić (22) was set up, within the “Podgorica Summer 2014” event. The sculptor calls it “Transformers Defending Podgorica”.
Over the past two years, Danilo has created seven realistic sculptures of Transformers, using scrap metal out of the scrap yard owned by his father. The idea to create these characters was born in his childhood. Like many other children, he grew up with the popular cartoon series from the 1980s. With the exhibition, he wants to catch people’s attention and send a message that waste can be “transformed” and used for better purposes!
Danilo’s fearsome robots can now be found on seven different locations around the center of Podgorica. They have been placed on street corners, in parks, pedestrian zones and on the city’s main square where you can find his biggest Transformer: a 25-ton Megatron, around 14 meters high. No need to say that the exhibition has also been covered by the international press. Many foreign tourists are now interested in seeing these monsters. But how can they find them? That is the reason why I have designed another Podgorica Walking Tour, which enables you to see all seven Transformers and also make a walk in the beautiful forest park “Gorica”. Follow the red line on the map: the Transformers are marked with a purple circle (photo 1). The tour can be made in one hour and a half or less, but you can also use the opportunity to walk to the top of the Gorica hill (130 m), from where you have a magnificent view of Montenegro’s capital (yellow line).
The walking tour starts in front of the old Crna Gora Hotel (red cross), once a symbol of the city, which was unfortunately dismantled to make space for the new Hilton Hotel (now under construction). The first Transformer is proudly standing opposite to the hotel, at the entrance of the shady King’s Park, renewed by the government of Azerbaijan.
Enter the main street, Slobode, which is closed for traffic from 5 PM to 5 AM, as it is used as a promenade by the inhabitants of Podgorica. You will soon reach the vast central square, Trg Republike, which is dominated by a 14 m high Transformer (photo 2). Continue in the direction of the city stadium: on the first big intersection you will see the third Transformer on the right side, in front of a new office building.
Cross the street, keep the stadium on your left side and you will soon arrive in the green zone of Forest Park “Gorica” (Podgorica means “under Gorica”). Don’t miss the little Orthodox church of St. George on your right side! This old church dates back to the 10th century and is hidden behind castle-like walls. Inside are the remains of centuries-old frescoes with very interesting scenes (photo 3). There is also a creepy overgrown cemetery behind the enclosure of the church. Spooky!
Pass the stone gate and you will enter the forest park. Uphill is Podgorica’s most impressive war memorial that is certainly worth a visit. It is an impressive white mausoleum flanked by fierce-looking Partizan fighters and it was made in 1957 (photo 4).
Walk then back to the intersection and turn right in the direction of the Millennium Bridge, the new symbol of Podgorica. Take the first street left, called Njegoševa, where a red Transformer is watching the passers-by. Turn then right into the pedestrian shopping zone, called Hercegovačka, which is also defended by a yellow transformer (photo 5). Cross the street – on your right is the new UN eco-building – and cross the pedestrian Moscow Bridge over the Morača river that was built in 2009 as a present of the city of Moscow. Turn left on the other side of the river and walk back over the Gazela Hanging Bridge, another pedestrian bridge that leads through the shady Podgorica parks (you can also avoid the bridges by turning left when you leave Hercegovačka, walking directly to the National Theatre – follow the yellow line on the map). Opposite to the National Theatre, on the corner of the park, is Transformer no. 6.
When you come from the park, continue your walk through Vučedolska, turn a few meters left and in front of the town hall you will see the last robot (photo 6). Walk back through Njegoševa and don’t forget to drink a cup of coffee in one of the nice pubs. Being Dutch, I like the Rembrandt café, decorated with paintings of the famous painter. You will now arrive in the main Boulevard Sveti Petar Cetinjski – turn left and walk through the shady avenue (photo 7) along the Central Bank to the starting point. I hope you enjoyed the tour!
P.S. In 2015, by order of the Municipality of Podgorica, the popular Transformers had to leave Podgorica after a one-year exhibition that attracted the attention of both locals and foreign tourists. After exhibitions in Belgrade and Zadar (Croatia), they will now “defend” Vienna. And even the famous Arnold Schwarzenegger is interested in buying them! Although this city walk is less interesting without these metal sculptures, I would still recommend it to foreign visitors, who want to visit the city center and the beautiful forest park “Gorica”