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Mount Lovćen rises from the borders of the Adriatic basin closing the long and twisting bays of Boka Kotorska and making the hinterland to the coastal town of Kotor. The mountain has two imposing peaks, Štirovnik (1,749 m) and Jezerski vrh (1,657 m).
The mountain slopes are rocky, with numerous fissures, pits and deep depressions giving its scenery a specific look. Standing on the border between two completely different natural wholes, the sea and the mainland, Lovćen is under the influence of both climates. The specific connection of the life conditions has stipulated the development of the different biological systems. There are 1,158 plant species on Lovćen, out of which four are endemic.
The National Park encompasses the central and the highest part of Lovćen mountain massif and covers an area of 62.20 km². It was proclaimed a national park in 1952. Besides Lovćen's natural beauties, the national park was established to protect rich historical, cultural and architectural heritage of the area.
Lovćen's area abounds in numerous elements of national construction. The old houses and village guvna are authentic as well as the cottages in katuns – summer settlements of cattlebreeders.
A particular architectural relic worth mentioning is Lovćen's serpentine road winding uphill from Kotor to the village of Njeguši, where the birth house of Montenegrin royal family of Petrović is situated.
The Great War
Upon the outbreak of The Great War Montenegro was the first nation to come to Serbia's aid and King Nicholas ordered his army, on August 8, 1914, to commence operations against the Austro-Hungarian naval base in the Bocche di Cattaro, the KuK Kriegsmarine's southernmost base in the Adriatic. It was just across the border from Mount Lovcen where the army had placed several batteries of artillery, and on that same day Montenegrin guns commenced firing on Austro-Hungarian fortifications. The Cattaro forts and the old armoured cruiser SMS Kaiser Karl VI returned the fire, aided by reconnaissance from navy seaplanes. However, on September 13 Austrian-Hungarian reinforcements arrived from Pola in the form of three active pre-dreadnought battleships, the SMS Monarch, SMS Wien, and SMS Budapest. They outgunned the Montenegrins who nevertheless put up a fight in several weeks of almost daily artillery duals.
With the entry of France into the war they realised that the capture of Cattaro might be beneficial to their own navy, and landed an artillery detachment of four 15 cm and four 12 cm naval guns under the command of Capitaine de frégate Grellier at Antivari on September 18–19. It took Grellier a month to move his guns inland but eventually his batteries were set up and positioned in fortifications on the south side of Mount Lovcen. On October 19 the French guns opened fire. The Austro-Hungarians called for reinforcements and on October 21 Admiral Haus despatched the modern battleship SMS Radetzky. With a broadside of four 30.5 cm guns and four 24 cm guns, the Radetsky would tip the balance. Naval seaplanes had been busy taking photographs and mapping accurate positions, and at 16.27 hours on October 22 the battleships all opened fire. Radetsky made a number of direct hits on the guns and fortified positions on the mountain and on the 24th one of the French 12 cm guns was completely knocked out. On the 26th the Radetsky opened fire before sunrise catching the French and Montenegrins off guard, and a number of batteries and fortifications were destroyed during what was a heavy bombardment, including another French 12 cm gun. By 1000 hours Allied firing from Mount Lovcen had ceased. The following day the Radetsky repositioned closer to the shore and blasted the Allied positions further. Grellier conceded defeat and pulled out his remaining saveable guns. Likewise the Montenegrins abandoned their fortifications. By November the French High Command decided to give up its campaign to neutralize and capture Cattaro and the Radetzky returned to Pola on December 16.
In early January 1916 the Austro-Hungarian army launched an offensive into Montenegro and the battleship Budapest was again used to assist the troops against Lovcen's renewed defences to such good effect that on the 10th the Austro-Hungarian troops took the Lovcen Pass and the adjacent heights where the French guns had previously been. The bombardment of Mount Lovcen played a decisive role in breaking the morale of the mountain's defenders and the Montenegrins requested an armistice two days later.
The biggest and most important monument of Lovćen national park is Petar Petrović Njegoš's Mausoleum. The location for his burial place and the mausoleum at the summit of Jezerski vrh was chosen by Njegoš himself as his last wish.
However, Njegoš's express wish was to be buried in a small chapel which he had built in his lifetime. This was done, but the original chapel was destroyed when the Austro-Hungarian army invaded Montenegro in First World War (1916). Njegoš's remains were then transferred into Cetinje Monastery and buried in the chapel rebuilt by King Alexander in 1920s. Contrary to Njegoš's express wishes to be buried in that chapel, the then communist powers of Montenegro destroyed the chapel and built in its stead a monumental mausoleum in Viennese Secession style. The local Bishopric (Mitropolija) of the Serbian Orthodox Church opposed the destruction and even took the matter to the Constitutional Court, albeit with no success. The design was that of Ivan Meštrović who, although world-famous, had never set foot on Lovćen.
The protests erupted in 1970 with many famous Yugoslav public figures, of both Montenegrin and non-Montenegrin origin, complaining of what they described as barbaric breaking of Njegoš's last will.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Lovćen.|
- Lovćen National Park Information and Pictures.
- Official Website of Lovćen National Park
- Lovćen Mountain National Park
- A list of Montenegrin royal burials with pictures of Mt Lovćen Mausoleum