The effect is most odd at first sight, a long main street, an open market-place, and a few side streets constituting the capital of an important European principality. The town, on entering it, bears a strong resemblance to a South African township, where, as is the case here, space is no object, and the houses are rarely more than one story high.
We stayed at the Grand Hotel during our first visit. It is the only really good hotel in Montenegro, and in consequence expensive. Here all the tourists stay for a night or so during a hasty visit to the Crnagora, and it is to be avoided by those who wish to see the country.
Cetinje and its sights—Prince Nicolas—The Archbishop—The barracks—The princes—A visit to the prison and its system—Our departure for Podgorica.
There is not much for the tourist to see in Cetinje; a day is quite sufficient to do the sights, such as they are.
Unfortunately for the country, the tourist usually contents himself with a look round the little capital and returns the way he came to Cattaro, only a few prolonging the tour via Rijeka to Scutari. Thus a very erroneous impression is gained of Montenegro and its people. Firstly only a small part of the Katunska is seen, which is the most uninteresting district of the whole country; and, secondly, no idea of the sturdy inhabitants can be formed from the handful of more or less well-to-do officials and merchants, all intimately connected with the outside world, round the proximity of Cattaro.
[Illustration: MONTENEGRIN INFANTRY]
[Illustration: THE VLADIKA AT THE MONASTERY OF IVAN BEG]
Cetinje, with its four thousand inhabitants, is simply the residence of the Montenegrin Court, it is not even a trading centre, which the absence of the Turkish element sufficiently proclaims. It is only the question of expense which has hitherto prevented the transference of the capital to another site, viz. Nikzic. Cetinje was chosen as the capital some hundreds of years ago—1484, to be pedantically correct—when a defensible position was the most important factor, which even to-day is a point to be reckoned with.
We will first go round “the sights.”
It possesses two historical buildings in the monastery and the Billard, the rest being all of quite modern origin. The monastery is a picturesque pile of grey stone, nestling under a lofty rock, on which is perched the identical round tower, or “kula,” to give it its local name, on which the heads of Turks slain in battle were exhibited on spikes. It was not so very long ago that the last grim trophies of war graced its battlements. The monastery contains the burying vault of the reigning house, and is the residence of the Vladika or Archbishop of Montenegro. Prince Nicolas can be found any morning worshipping at the tombs of his ancestors by the visitor who is willing to rise at daybreak. Very often he is the only “faithful” present with the officiating priest at an hour when the sun has hardly peeped over the rocky ramparts of the town.