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Skyline of Ulcinj  Ulqini
Coat of arms
Coat of arms
Ulcinj  Ulqini is located in Montenegro
Ulcinj  Ulqini
Location of Ulcinj
Coordinates: 41°55′N 19°12′E / 41.92°N 19.20°E / 41.92; 19.20Coordinates: 41°55′N 19°12′E / 41.92°N 19.20°E / 41.92; 19.20
Country Montenegro
Municipality Ulcinj Municipality
Settlements 39
 • Mayor Fatmir Gjeka - Democratic Party
 • Ruling party PD LDMZ Perspective
 • Total 255 km2 (98 sq mi)
Population (2011 census)
 • Total 10,828
 • Density 79.47/km2 (205.8/sq mi)
 • Municipality 20,265
Demonym Ulcinjani
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 85360
Area code +382 30
ISO 3166-2 code ME-20
Car plates UL
Website http://www.komunaeulqinit.com

Ulcinj (Serbian: Улцињ/Ulcinj),pronounced [ǔlt͡siɲ];Latin: Daleigno.[1] Albanian: Ulqin, pronounced [ult͡ɕin] or Ulqini, pronounced [ult͡ɕini]; pronounced [dultʃiɲo]) is the southernmost town in Montenegro. The town of Ulcinj has a population of 10,707 (2011 census) of which the majority are Albanians. Ulcinj is the centre of Ulcinj Municipality and the centre of the Albanian community in Montenegro. The Day of Ulcinj is held every first Saturday of April. It symbolizes the end of the collection of olives, the output of the sailors at the sea, and the beginning of the tourist season. Ulcinj is founding member of National Assembly of Albanian Municipalities created in 26 November 2012.


Despite proofs that the original name was Colchinium, Colchinion, Κολχίνιον, as the city was built by Greek settlers from Colchis, from which came Late (Vulgar) Roman and Byzantine Olchinium, further Montenegrin Ulcinj, there are those who claim that the name of the city is etymologically related to the Albanian word ulk meaning wolf,[2][3] Ptolemy mentions the city as "Ουλκίνιον" (Ulkinium) on the 2nd century AD, between Boulua or Budua (Βουλούα ή Βουτούα - modern day Budva) and the mouth of Drilon river (Δρίλωνος ποταμού εκβολαί)[4]

However, Ulicnj/Ulqini has well been known as Dulcigno in the past, the Italian and Spanish name for this town. Obviously the most similar to both Slavic 'Ulcinj' and Albanian 'Ulqini' is precisely the word Dulcigno, so it might as well be the case that both Ulcinj and Ulqini might in fact derive from this particular Italian and/or Spanish word (Dulcigno). In Spanish, 'dulce' means 'sweet', which does fit into the description of this little town.

According to the legend in the end of the XVI century the well-known Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes was a slave in Ulcinj. Some investigators recognized a woman from Ulcinj in his Dulcinea of Tobosa, the leading role in his novel. Namely, “Don Quixote” appeared after Cervantes’ slavery in the Old Town, which was part of the then-Roman states and it was called Dulcigno ( Does that mean that Dulcinea was just another name for a woman from Ulcinj? The folk tradition mentions a Servet, whose destiny, but also the base of his name, match with that of Cervantes.[5]

Latin dulcis, from PIE *dlk-wi-, suffixed form of root *dlk-u- "sweet".[6]



  • Çarshia (sr. Čaršija), is a neighborhood and town centre which connects the old and new parts (neighbourhoods). In 2009 it was reconstructed, with the asphalt being changed into sett and the water and electrical system were changed. The neighbourhood has some 200 shops. It has an oriental atmosphere. The are two mosques located in this area, the Namazgjahu Mosque and Kryepazari Mosque.

Çarshia Čaršija



An old map of Ulcinj

Ulcinj is an ancient seaport.[7] The wider area of Ulcinj has been inhabited since the Bronze Age, based on dating of Illyrian tombs (tumuli) found in the village of Zogaj, in the vicinity of Ulcinj. The town is believed to have been founded in the 5th century BC by colonists from Colchis, as mentioned in the 3rd century BC poem by Apollonius of Rhodes. Illyrians lived in the region at the time as there are traces of immense Cyclopean walls still visible in the old citadel (Kalaja).[7]

In the pre-medieval period, Ulcinj was known as one of the pirate capitals of the Adriatic Sea. This is also seen during the later period of Illyrian Kingdom. Inhabitants of Ulcinj were known before time of Christ, especially from 20 BC to around 300 AD, to be very confrontational to those who were foreigners to their land; they were especially meticulous about border disputes as well.


In 163 BC, the Romans captured Colchinium from the Illyrian tribe of Olciniates and renamed the town Olcinium (aka Ulcinium) after the tribe.[8] Under Roman rule the town received the status of Oppidum Civium Romanorum (Town with Special Privileges), only to be later granted Municipium (Independent Town) status. A section of their re-fortification can be distinguished from the Illyrio-Greek by the rustication of the walls.[7]

After the division of the Roman Empire, Ulcinj became a part of the Byzantine province of Prevalis and the population converted to Christianity. From Medieval times, and quiet likely earlier, it was regarded as an important trading and maritime center and still maintained the status of city autonomy.[7]

Medieval period[edit]

In the 9th century, it was in the Dyrrhachium theme, of the Byzantine Empire. In 1010, Tsar Samuel of Bulgaria (r. 997-1014†) failed to conquer the town during the war against the Byzantines. By 1040, archon Stefan Vojislav conquered the region. In 1183, Grand Prince Stefan Nemanja conquered Olcinium and the town prospered as one of the most significant coastal towns. Ulcinj remained in Nemanjić hands in their Kingdom and Empire, and after the death of Emperor Dušan (r. 1331-1355†), the region, known as Lower Zeta, was under the supervision of gospodin Žarko, a voivode of Emperor Uroš the Weak until his death in 1360. Žarko's lands were then held by the Balšić family. Under Balšić control, Ulcinj continued to be an important town and also minted coins. The Balšić Tower in the upper part of the Old Town was built by the Zetans in the late 14th century.

Venetian and Ottoman rule[edit]

In 1405 the Venetians conquered the town. Under Venetian control, the city was renamed Dulcigno in Italian, and it was incorporated in the Albania Veneta. The Venetians maintained control until 1571, when the Ottoman Turks conquered Dulcigno and the remainder of Albania Veneta. It remained within the Ottoman domain for over 300 years, during which time its far-reaching reputation as a lair of pirates was established.[7] Initially, this band of buccaneers comprised about 400 North Africans and Maltese corsairs, but before long many others was involved: Albanians, Turks and a certain number of Serbs. Romantic stories are legion. At first they used small galleys but they progressed to galleons built in the local shipyard. Their leaders, who achieved notoriety throughout the eastern Mediterranean, included the Karamindzoja brothers, Lika Ceni, Ali Hoxha and Uluc Alija.[7] With the Objective of causing maximum confusion, their galleons would frequently change flags at sea. After a successful attack the pirates would celebrate with a roistering party on Rana (Mala Plaža), boiling oriental Halvah in great cauldrons stirred with an oar. Oars were used to divvy up the plundered treasure especially from Venetian, but also Austro-Hungarian, Greek and sometimes Turkish ships.[7]

A flourishing black slave trade arose through the port of Tripoli and involved the export of North African adults and children, some as young as two or three years old, who were either sold on or put to work on their owners lands or ships. There were over 100 slave houses in Ulcinj, with the main square serving as the local slave market. It can still be seen in the old town. It has been claimed that in 1571 the Spanish writer Cervantes was at first imprisoned in the vaults along the market, after he was wounded in the battle of Lepanto and captured by the pirates.[7] There may be some poetic license in this detail; as at Sveti Stefan any number of luminaries may have slept there.

When Lika Ceni destroyed a ship full of pilgrims en route to Mecca, the Sultan put a large reward on his head. Then he put an even bigger reward on the head of a Greek pirate called Lembo. Lika vanquished Lembo, pocketed the reward and was given the title of captain by the Sultan.

Some North Africans came to Ulcinj not as slaves but of their own volition. Ritual dances would be performed on a part on Rana known as Arabian Field. They danced to an amalgam of Balkan and African music, which in time developed into the exotic Sharaveli,[7] a version which is still around. A few families of African descent remain today.

In the 17th century a self-proclaimed Jewish Messiah named Sabbatai Zevi caused turmoil throughout the Turkish Empire with his evangelizing, which attracted thousands of followers. He was eventually captured and exiled to Ulcinj in 1666, where he died quietly ten years later. He was buried in the courtyard of a Muslim house which is still preserved as a mausoleum; along with two Jewish alters in the Balšic Tower.[7]

In 1867, Ulcinj became a kaza of the İşkodra sanjak of Rumeli veyalet. After the Congress of Berlin in 1878, borders between Montenegro and the Ottoman Empire were redrawn, with Ulcinj becoming part of Montenegro. Although prepared to cede Plav, Gusinje and the Albanian villages of Grude, Hoti and Kastrati, Turkey still wanted to retain Ulqinj. Ultimately Montenegro, supported by Gladstone and others from western Europe, resisted and on 30 November 1880 the town became de jure part of the Montenegro which achieved recognition, but de facto only in 1880 after Great Powers occupation.


Historical population
Year Pop. ±%
1948 4,385 —    
1953 4,919 +12.2%
1961 5,705 +16.0%
1971 7,459 +30.7%
1981 9,140 +22.5%
1991 10,025 +9.7%
2003 10,828 +8.0%
2011 10,707 −1.1%
Bilingual sign in Ulcinj.

Ulcinj is the administrative centre of Ulcinj Municipality, which has a population of 19,921. The town of Ulcinj itself has a population of 10,707. Ulcinj Municipality is the centre of the Albanian community in Montenegro. It is the only municipality in Montenegro where Albanians form the majority with 70.66%. In Ulcinj municiapality can be found several different folk costumes: the costume worn by Albanians in Ulcinj (so-called: the city costume), the costume worn by Albanians in field of Anamali, the Bregasor, Shestan, Malesor, Goran (Merkojevic) and Montenegrin costumes.

Population of Ulcinj (municipality) by gender
Gendre Population
Population of Ulcinj (town) by gender
Gendre Population

Ethnicity, Mother tongue and Religion[edit]

The majority ethnic group in Ulcinj are Albanians, followed by South Slavic nations and Roma people. The largest spoken language is Albanian and the major religion is Islam. Since the creation of the town, Ulcinj's main ethnic groups were Illyrians and Albanians, with a large number of Black people[9] and South Slavs.

Population by ethnicity (2011 census):

Population of Ulcinj (municipality) by ethnicity
Population of Ulcinj (town) by ethnicity

Population by mother tongue (2011 census):

Population of Ulcinj (municipality) by mother tongue
Population of Ulcinj (town) by mother tongue

Population by religion (2011 census):

Population of Ulcinj (municipality) by religion
Population of Ulcinj (town) by religion

International relations[edit]

Twin towns – Sister cities[edit]

Ulcinj is twinned with:


Ulcinj is a popular tourist destination in summer. In January 2010, the New York Times named ranked the south coast region of Montenegro, featuring Velika Plaza, Ada Bojana, and the Hotel Mediteran, as one of "The Top 31 Places to Go in 2010".[10]

Although still undiscovered by many travelers from larger countries, repeat tourists and an increasing amount of first time visitors make Ulcinj a hot spot for vacationers between the months of May and September. It is most famous for its sandy beaches, which are considered[by whom?] the most beautiful in Montenegro. The most valuable resource of the Ulcinj riviera is Velika Plaza (Albanian: Plazha e Madhe, English: Longe Beach), which is a 12 km (7.5 mi) long stretch of sandy beach and the longest beach on the Montenegrin coast. There is a small pebble beach called Ladies Beach[11] which folk tradition holds to have qualities conducive to fertility. There is also a beach called Mala Plaža (Albanian: Plazha e Vogël, English: Small Beach) which is much smaller in size, but is located in the centre of town and very popular with visitors. "The Korzo", as it is called by locals, is a promenade which separates a street lined with coffee shops from Mala Plaža. At night during the summer months, the Korzo is pedestrianised and families and young people gather. There are many more less known smaller beaches that serve as get-aways from the main tourist areas. Ulcinj has also a large number of religious buildings like mosques, tyrbes and churches, including: Pasha's Mosque, Sailor's Mosque and St. Nicholas Church.

Ulcinj's old town is a very well preserved castle-looking community that is left over from medieval times. The old town sits atop a mountain overlooking the shore and is a tourist attraction on its own.

Ada Bojana (Albanian: Buna) is popular among foreign tourists from Western Europe for its peace and unique atmosphere. A large naturist campsite is located in Ada Bojana.[12]

Šaško lake and Ulcinj's salt pond are popular among birdwatchers, because Ulcinj and its surroundings are major resting points for over 200 bird species on their migration paths.

There are numerous cafes, discos, and bars that dot the city that are usually filled to capacity throughout the summer.

The majority of tourists that came in Ulcinj are Albanians (moslty from Kosovo and Switzerland), Germans, Italians, and Eastern Europeans. A large number of Americans who are either of Albanian descent or were born in or near the city of Ulcinj often make the city a prime summer time destination.

The Water Cult[edit]

There has always been the water cult in Ulcinj. It is believed that the image of Bindus, the Illyrian God of water and the sea, was carved into the walls of the Old Town. Many fountains used to be built in the area of this town for people's use, but for the souls of the dead too. A legend says that it is better to make a fountain than a sacral building. Therefore, in the town only there used to be more than 30 of them. Today there is just half of it.

Fountains were built as endowments (vakf) of individuals. They were made of stone and were decorated by an incised tarih – the year of construction. The fountains in Ulcinj decorate the town by their beauty and the fact that they were harmoniously adapted to the environment where they were made. The inscription contains the name of the benefactor who made the fountain, usually with the wish and message that those who would get the nafaka – chance to take just a sip of water from it, say a prayer for him and wish him a place in wonderful Jannah.

The fountain in the Old Town was made in 1749-50. Water was captured at 600 metres northwest from the fortress, near the place called Çinari. At this place there were a lot of reservoirs where the rainwater was collected, which would then be used by the citizens of the Old Town in case there was a siege. The most frequently sung fountain in Ulcinj is Kroni i zanave – Fairy's water, which is located on the northwestern side in the Valdanos grove. There are a lot of stories and legends about this beneficial and marvelous water. In the Ulcinj olive groves there are ten more nicely-made water springs, Begut, Mustafës, Doçinës, Salkikinës, the Sailor's etc. In the pine wood there is the famous Ladies Beach with its sulfur springs, which are the right elixir for barren women.

Doctors from the former Yugoslavia used to recommend to children who had asthma problems to walk in the Ulcinj Pine Wood in the morning and to rinse their throats with sea water.


List of schools:

Montenegrin name Albanian name Location Language(s)
Elementary schools
Osnovna Škola "Boško Strugar" Shkolla Fillore "Boshko Strugar" Ulcinj Montenegrin & Albanian
Osnovna Škola "Maršal Tito" Shkolla Fillore "Marshall Tito" Ulcinj Montenegrin & Albanian
Osnovna Škola "Bedri Elezaga" Shkolla Fillore "Bedri Elezaga" Vladimir Albanian
Osnovna Škola "Mark Nuculović" Shkolla Fillore "Mark Nuculloviq" Donji Štoj Montenegrin & Albanian
High schools
Srednja Mješovita Škola "Bratstvo jedinstvo" Shkolla e Mesme e Kombinuar "Vëllazërim Bashkim" Ulcinj Montenegrin & Albanian
Gimnazija "Drita" Gjimnazi "Drita" Ulcinj Albanian

Sports and recreation[edit]

The Ulcinj "south coast" region is well known for its active sports, recreation possibilities and hunting . Kitesurfing at Ada Bojana, all manner of water sports at Velika Plaza, scuba diving among wrecks and sunken cities, mountain biking, hiking, orienteering, cycling through the olive groves at Valdanos, long walks along the pristine beaches of the south coast of Montenegro, even deep sea fishing on the Adriatic, lake fishing at Lake Skadar, and river fishing in Ada Bojana, Due to the fact that the favorable habitat for wild life, has excellent conditions of hunting tourism.This place is the haven of omithological (gourmand) hunting in Reč and Shenkol most common wildlife are woodcock, Hare, Wild boar, and ducks. The beautiful attraction with flora and fauna in Ulcinj makes it an unforgettable journey in hunting activities..

List of sport clubs in Ulcinj:

Name Sport Competing Founded
Montenegrin name Albanian name
Omladinski Fudbalski Klub "Federal" Klubi Rinor Fudbolistik "Federall" Football Montenegrin Third League 2006
Košarkaški Klub "Ulcinj" Klubi i Basketbollit "Ulqin" Basketball Montenegrin Basketball League 1976
Rukometaški Klub "Ulcinj" Klubi i Hendbollit "Ulqin" Handball Montenegrin First League of Men's Handball
Teniski Klub "Bellevue" Klubi i Tenisit "Bellevue" Tennis 2009
Omladinski Fudbalski Klub "Federal" Klubi Futbolistik Rinor "Federall" Football South Region League 2007
Karate Klub "Champions" Klubi i Karates "Champions" Karate
Karate Klub "Ulcinj" Klubi i Karates "Ulqini" Karate


Ulcinj has a Mediterranean climate (Köppen climate classification Csa), with mild, very rainy winters and hot, humid summers with afternoon thunder showers. Unlike Podgorica temperatures very rarely exceed 35 °C (95 °F) and seldom drop below 0 °C (32 °F).

Climate data for Ulcinj, Montenegro
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 17.8
Average high °C (°F) 11.2
Average low °C (°F) 4.1
Record low °C (°F) −7.8
Average precipitation mm (inches) 149
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.1 mm) 12.3 12.1 11.8 11.8 8.2 6.7 3.8 4.3 6.6 9.7 12.8 12.4 112.5
Mean monthly sunshine hours 124.0 127.1 170.5 204.0 269.7 297.0 350.3 322.4 252.0 198.4 132.0 114.7 2,562.1
Source: Hydrological and Meteorological Service of Montenegro[13]


Community Health Centre in Ulcinj

Ulcinj is connected with the rest of Montenegro by two-lane highway. It is connected with other coastal towns by the Adriatic Motorway. Reaching inland is made possible by detouring from the Adriatic Motorway at Budva or Sutomore (through the Sozina tunnel).

As of today, there are no airports in the city of Ulcinj. However, nearby airports in Tivat and Podgorica are both around 70 km (43 mi) away. There are regular flights to Belgrade and Zürich from Tivat. Podgorica Airport has regular flights to major European destinations throughout the year. Many tourists traveling to Ulcinj from abroad arrive to the city from the airport in Tivat due to its recent renovations and general ease of navigation.


Notable people born in Ulcinj or its surroundings:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Urgeschichte, Volume 1,Christian Karl Barth (* 23. November 1775 in Bayreuth; † 8. Oktober 1853
  2. ^ OOuSI staff 2003, p. 227.
  3. ^ Rymut 1981, p. 56.
  4. ^ Claudii Ptolemaei Geographia edidit Carolus Fridericus Augustus Nobbe, Volume 1, sumptibus et typis Caroli Tauchnitii, 1843, page 134, Book 2, chapter 16, paragraph 5:
    • ...
    • Ριζονικός κόλπος με μβ
    • Βουλούα ή Βουτούα με μα (symbol possibly Sampi?) δ΄
    • Ουλκίνιον με μα (symbol possibly Sampi?)
    • Δρίλωνος ποταμού εκβολαί με μα γ΄
    • Λισσός με μα στ΄
    • ...
  5. ^ Toulicinj,http://www.ulcinj.travel/en/miguel-de-servantes
  6. ^ http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?allowed_in_frame=0&search=dulcis&searchmode=none
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Rellie, Annalisa (2012). Montenegro. Bradt Travel Guides Ltd, IDC House, The Vale, Chalfront St Peter, Bucks SL9 9RZ, England: The Globe Pequot Press Inc. pp. 207–208. ISBN 978 1 84162 381 8. Retrieved 2013-06-20. 
  8. ^ Chisholm 1911.
  9. ^ http://www.visit-ulcinj.com/blog/2012/03/25/lulezimi-i-detarise-dhe-kusarise-mbi-te-kaluaren-e-ulqinit-10/
  10. ^ Williams 2010.
  11. ^ iSV 2009.
  12. ^ ulcinj.com staff 2009.
  13. ^ "Climatology". Hydrological and Meteorological Service of Montenegro. Retrieved 2012-10-13. 


External links[edit]