Niksic

Upon exiting the tunnel under Budos Hill, when travelling from Podgorica towards the north-west of Montenegro, there opens up before your eyes an unexpected, wide and flat valley, encircled by hills and mountains on all sides, a sight not so common in this mountainous country. Located in this valley at an altitude of 600 metres above sea level is the second largest city in Montenegro - Niksic. In terms of its area, the municipality of Niksic used to be the largest in the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, containing 2 065 km2.

The valley itself almost resembles a huge frying pan, with a flat bottom and rather steep sides. Scattered all over the bottom of the "pan" is a myriad of small and large hills, the most beautiful of which, called Trebjesa rises, strangely enough, in the middle of the urban area of Niksic, thus making for a little piece of nature planted amidst the buildings and houses.

The history of human settlement in the area of Niksic reaches far back, to the times of the Illyrians, Romans and Ostrogoths. Slavic tribes started inhabiting this locality from the 6th century. Throughout its history, from the ancient settlement of Anderba, Roman Anagastum and Slavic, and later Turkish, Onogost, Niksic has always played an important role as an economic, cultural and administrative centre, as well as an important crossroads, connecting the coast of Montenegro with its continental part. The only thing left standing from these times is the ruin of the medieval fortress (today called Bedem), to which the Turks gave its final shape, building on the foundations of a much older Roman citadel. The city, as it is today, was laid out in 1883, after the Turks had been driven out of Montenegro. King Nikola I and the Montenegrin administration of that time hired the Croatian architect Josip Slade to devise the spatial plan of the city. Up until the Second World War, Niksic was an important cultural centre of Montenegro, with its own unique, urban style of life and ambience.

Unfortunately, this changed drastically after the war and the subsequent industrialization of the city, when its demographic structure was completely changed by the influx of thousands of people from the rural areas to work in the new steel factory. Despite this fact, and its adverse effects, which are still felt heavily today, there are things and places worth seeing in and around this city. One of them is certainly the Parish Church of St. Vasilije of Ostrog, perched on a small artificial hill, next to a park located at the foot of Trebjesa. Just a few steps away from this church is the City Museum, formerly one of the residences of King Nikola I. Another monument of sacral architecture, located a few kilometers above the village of Bogetici, some 10-15 km from Niksic in the direction of Podgorica, is the Monastery of St. Vasilije of Ostrog, an absolute must-see. If you are looking for a nice spot to spend your day on a picnic close to water or indulge in some swimming and a little bit of watersports, you should definitely go to the Lake Krupac, one of the three artificial lakes close to the city (the other two are Lakes Slano and Liverovici). There are also a few beautiful old bridges to see, such as the Carev most (Tsar's Bridge), built in 1894, the old Roman (as it is called) Bridge on the Mostanica and the old Duklo Bridge.