It seems that port cities that have a rich history
of trading with many nations or being occupied
by many different empires will also have a rich culture.
Ulcinj is no exception. One seeming strange impact is
Ulcinj's past with having pirates and slave ships.
A minority of the population, just a few families I think
are the Black Montenegrins or CRNCI ULCINJA.
Considering the fact that Ulcinj is famous for its development
of the crafts work, this town is the birthplace of Mrio Surla,
a Montenegrin African and the son of the legendary photographer
from Ulcinj Rizo Surla. Beside the skillful artist producing
beautiful photographs of Ulcinj and it's surroundings,
Mario is famous as a passionate fisherman and a great Bohemian.
It is interesting to point out that the first settlers from the
family Surla came to Ulcinj 400 years ago as slaves.
Watch the clip in the website link below
Truth or legend it still adds to the
mysteries about the fortress old town of Ulcinj.
The tale about Miguel de Servantes Savedra and
his 5 years spent as a slave while ransomed for 500 goldern
Well here is what some Montenegrians claim, but I doubt it
as it was well documented that the location of where he was
held was North Africa and not that of Ulcinj,
He and his brother were taken to Algiers as slaves
WELL HERE IS THE LOCAL LEGEND
One of the most interesting aspects of Stari Grad Ulcinj's
history occured just after the Mediterranean Sea naval battle
at Lapant in 1571. The famous Spanish writer Miguel de Servantes
Savedra was imprisoned at Stari Grad Ulcinj - the writer who later
wrote the world-famous novel "Don Quixote". It is supposed that
the famous Servantes to his protagonist Don Quixote, in the novel,
gave a lover named Dilcinea del Toboso, a girl whose origin is from
Ulcinj and who carried the name of the former name of
Ulcinj - Cita de Dolcino, with whom Servantes was in love.
Servantes spent almost five years in Ulcinj as his captors
awaited a ransom payment, and it is thought that he along
with other slaves were sold in Old Town Ulcinj at slave square.
HERE IS CLOSER TO THE TRUTH
Cervantes a highly paid soldier, receives letters of
recommendation from Don Juan and the Duke of Sessa
and decides to return to Spain after time in Sicily, Sardinia,
and Naples.. In early September he leaves Naples with a four-
galley fleet bound for Barcelona. A storm disperses the ships,
and El Sol (The Sun), carrying both Cervantes and his brother,
Rodrigo on the galley is captured off the Catalan coast by
Berber corsairs under the command of Arnaut Mamí.
The captives are taken to Algiers and Miguel de Cervantes
falls into the hands of Dalí Mamí,
alias The Cripple, who, considering the letters of recommendation,
sets Cervantes's ransom at 500 gold ducats, an amount
hardly within the power of his family to pay.
Rodrigo was ransomed in 1577. The Moors though
that Cervantes was more valuable captive because he
had carried letters written by important persons
Over the years, he makes 4 attempts to escape and is
spared once a sentence of flogging with 2000 lashes,
I suspect Hassan Baha king of Algiers, had a soft spot for him.
Then on September 19, 1580, Cervantes is about to sail for
Constantinople with Hassan Baha's fleet when the
Trinitarians Fray Juan Gil and Fray Antón de la Bella pay
the writer's ransom and he is set free.
On October 27, he reaches the Spanish
coast and disembarks in Denia (Valencia);
his captivity has lasted five years and one month.
Towards the end of the year he goes to Madrid to
initiate a series of suits in demand of compensation
for his military service.
1581 .... Cervantes only procures an obscure
assignment in Oran which he carries out in the middle of 1581,
after which he goes to Lisbon to report to Philip II.
He later settles in Madrid for a while, has a child with
Ana Franca de Rojas, to be his only offspring,
Then marries a nineteen- year-old girl,
18 years younger than him ..then....
well he continues to write and have a very eventful life.
1616 ill with dropsy..
On Friday the twenty-second, a little over a week after Shakespeare's
death, they died on the same date but not day,as the April 23 date
for Shakespeare is Julian calendar (Old Style) and the April 23 date for
Cervantes is Gregorian calendar (New Style) as those were the calendars
in effect in England and in Spain, respectively, at that time.
The Gregorian calendar was then ten days ahead of the Julian.)
the author of the Quijote expires and is buried the following day,
dressed in his Franciscan habit, in the Convent of the Barefoot Trinitarians,
on Cantarranas (now Lope de Vega) Street.
WHAT'S THIS GOT TO DO WITH ULCINJ ???
Well I said this was a legend....:-)
I guess with Montenegro seeking to attract more tourists
and hopefully one day join the EU, they have become
more aware of the environment.
The beaches are cleaned up every day with people,
machinery and tractors raking through the sand and
cleaning the broad walk and surrounding streets.
With only a handful of rubbish bins on Mala Plaza, it's hardly
surprising that beach visitors feel more inclined just to bury
or chuck their rubbish.
Even on the main narrow street leading up from Mala Plaza
to the town centre, there are no visible rubbish bins provided
by Ulcinj Municipality, except large rubbish skips used by the shops,
bars and restaurants lining the upward climbing street.
Stari Grad (The old city) is very clean and apart from the
occasional black plastic bin bags clawed open by stray cats,
one of the cleanest old cities I have seen.
According to Zuto where we stayed, he told me that the sewerage
has a pipe which goes many kilometres out to sea. Well better
I suppose than seeing 'Floaters' on the shoreline or in the sea!
Many people in Europe and especially here
in Hungary think that Montenegro and
Albania are filthy! Well a lot of the plastic
bottles that might float up onto a lot of the
beaches in Southern Montenegro is actual junk
thrown off of ships and from further north,
west from Italy and south from Greece, so it
can't all be blamed on Montenegrin as being
a litter chucking nation. Admittedly people
on the Mala Plaza do stub out their fags into the
sand and the sea in the cove is floating with more plastic
items disposed of than the other beaches. But maybe
the myth of dirty beaches will inadvertently keep large
numbers of tourists away and thus help keep
the country cleaner. More tourists means more garbage.
Squash together 1,000 British tourists in the same
space on a Blackpool beach in the 1980's and
I'm sure you would find much more rubbish at
the end of the day!
More common sense and cleanliness than anything that when staying
in some ones house taking off your shoes and using flip flops or slippers
inside. Also when entering a mosque you have to cover your head (women),
wear long sleeves (arms and legs) and take off your shoes.
Anyway I think it is a pleasant sensation to walk barefeet on
the stone or marble floor on a hot summers day.
Ulcinj has the largest number of ethnic Albanians with 75% of the
town belonging to the largest Albanian community in Montenegro.
Then 80% of them are muslim.
Historically, Ulcinj had a tradition as a North African pirate base and slave trade centre. Between 1571 and 1878. A small group of North African and Maltese corsairs were the first group to sail the seas around this part of the Adriatic but many soon followed including Turks and Albanians. For 300 years the pirates used small galleons to attack and capture merchant ships and trade vessels and a development of a slave trade soon followed. This infamous chapter of Ulcinj’s history can be investigated more at the small Stari Grad museum and there is evidence detailing that a lot of houses in the Stari Grad were used a slave houses. The famous Spanish author of Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes is reputed to have been imprisoned in one of these houses!
Throughout most of Montenegro, the towns and cities have a small Albanian minority. However, the opposite is true in Ulcinj with a 90% Albanian population. All road signs in and around Ulcinj are bilingual with Albanian place names also included. In fact Ulcinj is more commonly known locally as Ulqin, the town’s Albanian name.
Nikšičko pivo, the beer from Nikšić is excellent. It is a light (alcohol 5°) blond beer with just enough bitterness and flavor. We enjoyed it a lot during our stay, especially as it was very hot ! Not only had they 50 and 33cl aluminum cans (and 50cl bottles) but also amazing 2 liters plastic bottles !
A road sign with a tractor stands at the entrance of the main street that leads from the newest part of the city (Bulvar Maršala Tita) to the beach, ulica/bruga Hafiz Ali Ulqinaku. It is unusual to spot this road sign and actually, I wonder if I have ever seen it !
This road sign was there in 2005 but had been removed in 2006!
The only recent (2003) guidebook I had found on Montenegro (Bradt) was not a great help for Ulcinj. It gives a small city map, very rough and with only a few streets named. However, I could not spot a single of the names they give. What seems to be "ulica/bruga Hafiz Ali Ulqinaku" is called by Bradt "ulica 26 novembar". The same for what Bardt call "Bulevar Maršala Tita" The roads signs did not look as if they had been changed recently. Anyway, after a while, once you know the city, you don't care anymore with the names of streets, but in the beginning, it is confusing.
Nene Teresa 27 8 1910 – 5 9 1997.
At the lower end of former Bulevar Maršala Tita stands a monument for Mother Teresa (Nene Teresa)
She was born as Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, in Skopje (Republic of Macedonia) in an Albanese catholic family. It is not necessary to remind all what she performed in Calcutta for the poorest children. She is considered a hero for every Albanese, whatever the country where he lives. Ulcinj being a partly Albanese city had to build a monument to celebrate her.
I have really been impressed by the city beach, Mala plaza in Serbian or Plazhi i Vog‘l, though, I am glad that it was not the place where we went to bathe !! By the way, is that bathing ? I suppose that it is more going to chat with neighbors than neither bathing nor swimming
I collect pictures of school warning road signs and found this one in Ulcinj, which is completely different from anything I had ever found elsewhere. Amazingly, the girl and the boy have no legs but as always the boy is taller than the girl. Until now, I have not found a single road sign with a girl taller than the boy !
I had been warned that Montenegro was really dirty. Actually, this is not true. What I have noticed can be noticed in any place where, for a few weeks, the population increases 2, 5 or even 10 folds. Even if the garbage cans are oversized most of the year, they are heavily undersized during these few weeks. Thus, though they are collected every day, they often overflow and the collectors have a hard time.
What an amazing name ! This was the entrance to this beach. You have to pay for the entrance and you cannot see the beach. In the 2003 Bradt Travel guide book, they say :
"… several attractive rocky coves dropping steeply to the limpid sea. One of these is reserved for female naturists and has a reputation for enhancing fertility..".
I was not convinced that it was true and found a much likely explanation in a 1979 Nagel Travel guide (in French) I had on my shelf. I translate :
"Ulcinj has a sulfurous spring on the shore, close to the city. Its temperature is 17°C, it is reach in magnesium, calcium, sulfur, iron and silica. It is recommended for curing nervous diseases, rheumatisms, paralysis, women diseases, bones and joints diseases, skin diseases."