Heading to the north of Montenegro (Part I): Interesting destiny of Piva region

You thought that Montenegrin coast is the best thing Montenegro has to offer? Then you certainly did not feel the magic of the north of Montenegro.

I went there to prove it to you.

The North of Montenegro does not lag behind neither in cultural, nor in historical, especially not in the natural wealth. The pictures will confirm this anyway. However, the spiritual heritage of this region is also impressive. In Montenegro, there are many religious places that have been centers of cultural, political and religious life. One of them is the Piva Monastery. That was the reason why I headed firstly towards Plužine (via Podgorica and Nikšić) to visit and show you this fantastic monastery.

Monastery is located 9km from Plužine and is very close to the main road. Make sure to stop by.

Amazing silence dominates the landscape. Some holly places in Montenegro are very popular among tourists, but not this one. A wonderful monastery, unjustly neglected. He fits nicely into surrounding area, so you have the feeling that it has always been there and you cannot guess that the whole monastery was moved 2 km from the original location.

Yes, you read well. An undertaking rarely mentioned, as well as some other endeavors of the former powerful state of Yugoslavia.

This monastery was originally located at a source called the Piva Eye, whose beauty, according to the local population, was unprecedented and complemented the harmony of the environment. The monastery from the 16th century, as an invaluable cultural monument, had to be moved to a different place in order to build the Hydro Power Plant, so as not to be submerged.

Well, there are several, for the section “believe or not”, facts.

The first is that all this happened in the time of communism, and we all know what their attitude toward religion was. Secondly, the transfer of the Monastery took place for 12 years (from 1970 to 1982). Thirdly, it was done by local experts with the help of experts from other countries of Yugoslavia and under the supervision of UNESCO experts. Fourthly, they managed to take down 1,260 m² of frescoes, dismantle the monumental monastery, transfer it to a new location, built once again and restore the original frescoes!!! It is wonderful what people can do, only when there is will.

The most interesting fact about this Orthodox monastery (with a rich treasury, old frescoes and icons, and interesting furniture made in the technique of intarsia) is related to the founders and circumstances of the founding of the monastery. The monastery was founded in difficult times by the Patriarch Savatije Sokolović, but its establishment would not have been possible without his cousin, who was forced to convert to Islam , Mehmed Pasha Sokolović, who at the time was a great Turkish vizier and had strong connections in Porta. Mehmed Pasha has not forgotten his roots, and the people expressed their gratitude by putting his figure on a fresco next to Savatije Sokolovic.

Interior of the Church

This is unique “Turk” whose image is painted on a fresco, at least in Montenegro.

After visiting the monastery, I headed to Plužine, the youngest city in Montenegro. Its fate is similar to the fate of the monastery. The city was immersed in order to build a reservoir Pivsko Lake and transferred to another location. Only this time, unlike the monastery, original houses and the settlement remained under water, and new ones appeared on the higher, on shores of the newly built lake in 1975.

Plužine is located in the north-west of Montenegro, not far from the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina, and historically, until 1878, it shared the fate of the Herzegovina region. City, which has about 1,500 inhabitants, is a serene, beautiful town that is growing gradually. A few years ago, residents of Montenegro surprised the fact that the standard in Plužine is the highest in Montenegro. Why? Because most of its residents work in the energy sector. Let’s clarify.

The story somehow brings us to the lake again. It’s “guilty” for everything. Pivsko Lake is the largest artificial lake in Montenegro, used for the needs of HPP Piva and represents the main energy potential of the country. It was created by reconstructing the canyon of the river Piva and building a dam Mrtatinje which was once a construction wonder! It is still one of the largest dams in Europe, being 220 meters high. The construction of a concrete dam was run by 5,000 people who built in it not only part of their lives, but also 800,000 cubic meters of concrete and 5,000 tons of steel.

The dam is situated17km away from Plužine. Dam length: 296m, width in the base is 26m and in the crown 6m.

The dam is buried in the ground and the foundations reach as much as 38 meters in the depths of the hard cliffs of the Piva canyon!

Due to inaccessibility of the terrain, an efficient organization was needed. A particular problem was the cement delivery, since they had to use maritime, rail and road transport on a total length of 600km. All the accompanying objects of the hydroelectric power plant are located underground along the left side of the dam.

Lake surface is 12.5m2, length 45km, max depth 188m. Altitude 675m.

Still, looking at the lake, you would not get the impression that a man interfered into God’s works. The lake looks completely natural, with a beautiful color that can be intensely blue in the sunny days, in contrast to the lush greenery that surrounds it. Once we add that this is the largest natural drinking water reservoir in the Balkans, navigable, suitable for water sports, fishing and swimming, we realize that this is one of the most beautiful and valuable sites in the entire region.

There are plenty of tunnels along the way, but a lot of beautiful views also…

The area definitely won’t leave you indifferent, neither God’s work or man’s…

One Reply to “Heading to the north of Montenegro (Part I): Interesting destiny of Piva region”

  1. Sanja, this brought back happy memories of our travels around the dam last year. Great pictures as always

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