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Through the centuries (from Montenegro Mobile Art magazine)




The Old Town of Ulcinj

The old town of Ulcinj is positioned on a huge and steep cliff by the sea shore, where the lowest parts of the defense walls with one of the towers are situated


Aleksandar Cilikov

The walled city of Ulcinj can only be entered through its two gates: the one from the sea, to the east, and the other from land, to the west. Overlooking preserved houses, churches, and architectural remains from different periods, the city's fortress - citadel - is perched on the highest point of the cliff, and is accessible only from the south, through the city. It is where the oldest ancient remains of Ulcinj were found, including a wall dating from Greco-Illyrian period made of monumental stone blocks, and fragments of pottery.
Historical records on the emergence and early history of Ulcinj are very scanty and hypothetical. It is mentioned by Titus Livius and Plinius the Older in late 1st century BC and 1st century AD as Olcinium, and is called opidum civium.


Romanorum. According to Plinius the Younger, Ulcinj was founded as Kolhinium by the Colhidians around 5th to 4th century BC. From as early as Illyrian times, the city has, due to its strategic location and the ability to control sea trade in the large area of the Adriatic, become one of the most widely known pirate spots with a famous slave market. This tradition would continue for centuries.
Several times during its turbulent history, Ulcinj has been ruined and bust down, left deserted and again restored, so that not many of its authentic ancient and early medieval architectural objects have been preserved.
The foundations of a small church in the lower part of the city could date back to 9th century. Although research has been done in the remains of the city's medieval architecture, the urban structure from the Middle Ages could not be reconstructed. Some building phases of the city walls, the square tower and a part of the fortifications above the sea are undoubtedly medieval, as well as the inner side of the western gate. The remains of a bigger church in the lower part of the city belong to 13th century. There are fragments of medieval churches under the octagonal Turkish powder magazine, and a very interesting structure near the citadel containing in its basement remains of wall painting - probably a bishop's residence. There is also a large medieval structure with arcades facing the sea, possibly a city loggia or duke's palace. A few houses have preserved architectural traits from that period in their ground floor parts. Most parts of the city walls, both towards the citadel and the sea, date from Venetian times, as well as the high donjon, known to locals as 'Kula Balšića'. During the Venetian rule, a church was built in the upper part of the city, near Balšića kula, as well as several larger houses. Some military structures at the citadel and the upper part of the city date from Turkish times, as well as parts of the fortification, the powder magazine and most of the houses within the city walls.

Translated by Marjan Miloš