Situated in the foothills of lush mountains, on the bank of a small river, is a small town of Rijeka Crnoeviča with a current population of approximately 150 people. Most of them work in Podgorica, Cetinje or at the seaside. The town has almost no infrastructure or facilities. If it were not for the tourists, it would cease to be very quickly. It was once an important centre of trade and manufacturing in Montenegro. It was a bustling place and having a house here was considered to be a privilege. There was almost no space to dock a boat at the river bank. No visitor to Montenegro should miss this town.
If you come from Cetinje look for the brown sign that says ‘Rijeka Crnojevica’. A narrow road will curve along the mountain side. You will pass three or four junctions, then choose the road that goes downhill.
After a visit here there are three other sights you could see on your trip
– going to Virpazar, a town near Lake Skadar. To do this you have to continue going from Cetinje and turn right at the town exit;
— visit Podgorica. To do so, follow the directions from Cetinje along the route on the map. You will pass an observation site where you can see the famous panorama of the river circling round the mountain. This view is pictured in almost every travel guide or advertisement for Montenegro. Further along the road will take you back to Cetinje-Podgorica highway;
— continue visiting villages along the river, including Karuc. To do so, go to the observation site and continue east until the corresponding map mark.
Along this route, the roads are narrow and winding. Be careful and do not exceed 40-50 km/h.
Find out how to enjoy to the fullest
The town got its name after the river that flows from a place several hundred meters above the town. The river is also named after Ivan Crnojevic, who ruled this land in the XV century. He was known as a gifted diplomat and strategian. It was he who moved the capital of Montenegro from Lake Skadar to mountains, where he founded Cetinje. Thus, he saved his country from the ravages of the Ottoman Turks. In the same XXV century, his son founded a printing shop near Rijeka Crnoeviča at Obod. It was among the world’s first printing shops. The books printed here are displayed at European museums.
This town was at the crossroads of a trade route. The road from Cetinje to Podgorica went through it, connecting Montenegro to the lands governed by the Ottoman Turks. The river was navigable and you could get to Virpazar, a lake trading centre or go further to br and exit into the Adriatic via the Bojana river. At the same time, Rijeka Crnoeviča essentially remained a trading outpost of Montenegro.
Light industry was well-developed, there were hotels and taverns and adjacent roads were always well-maintained. One Russian traveler noted in the XIX century that Rijeka Crnoeviča was the place to visit if you would like to get to know the Montenegrins better. Even Cetinje, the capital of Montenegro, was not as lively and populated as this town.
However, the glory faded at the end of the XIX century, when Montenegro acquired new territories, changed its borders and Rijeka Crnoeviča became an ordinary town in the middle of the country. Later, a new road from Cetinje to Podgorica was built, but it bypassed the town. The road still connects the two cities, but you have to take a detour to enter Rijeka Crnoeviča.
In terms of the sights, I can only name the old bridge, built in the XVIII century by the ruler of Montenegro, Danilo Petrović-Njegoš and a white stone quay that was built only recently. There is a fine fish restaurant called Stari Most on the quay and a cafe called Mostina located at the Danilo residence by the bridge. Many boats offer rides to Lake Skadar where the river ends.
The town is impressive, not only solely for the sights, but for its tranquil feel. In summer when the seaside is busy and Podgorica is too hot, people come here to take a break. Whether it be in the shade of the willows on the river, a relaxing trip down the river amongst the lilypads, feeding the ducks and swans on the river near the town or ending their holiday with a glass of cold beer or juice at a restaurant near the quay. Rijeka Crnoeviča is a favourite weekend destination with the locals and with good reason. Make sure to visit this town, even people who think that there is nothing left to amaze them in the world consider Rijeka Crnoeviča a worthy destination.