As of 2018, there are four UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Montenegro and six on the tentative list.
The first site Montenegro UNESCO site was the Natural and Culturo-Historical Region of Kotor, that earned a spot in 1979 for its an awe-inspiring blend of natural beauty and architectural prowess. It includes the cities of Kotor, Perast, Risan, and the fortifications of Kotor. However, 1979 wasn’t only the year of its inscription, but also when a devastating earthquake severely damaged the area. Due to this, Kotor was immediately deemed endangered by UNESCO. Thankfully, with significant financial aid from UNESCO for restoration, the site’s endangered status was lifted by 2003. The area was an important trade centre during medieval times and its value is evident in the well-preserved architectural features, including fortified towns, royal residencies, and monasteries.
In 1980, Durmitor National Park was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Durmitor is a mountain range that is a part of the Dinaric Alps. Carved by glaciers and intersected by river canyons, it features Europe’s deepest river gorge, the Tara River Canyon. It is also home to 18 glacial lakes and is recognised for its significant biodiversity and picturesque scenery.
On top of these two sites, there are an additional two that Montenegro shares with other countries.
A collaborative heritage site with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, and Serbia, Stećci Medieval Tombstone Graveyards, is a testament to the shared history of the Balkans. These intricate designs and epitaphs on the Stećci tombstones offer a window into the beliefs and culture of the region from the 12th to the 16th century.
Along with Croatia and Italy, Montenegro shares a series of fortifications and military structures – Venetian works of defence between the 16th and 17th centuries. It consists of six defensive structures spread out across these countries, stretching over 1,000 kilometres from Italy’s Lombard region to the eastern Adriatic coast. These fortifications reflect the changes in military strategy and architecture brought about by introducing gunpowder in warfare. Within Montenegro, the fortifications of Kotor are a part of this heritage designation.
Tentative list of Montenegro UNESCO sites:
Cetinje (listed in 2010) – The old royal capital of Montenegro and a historic town renowned for its well-preserved architecture, museums, and the rich cultural heritage it embodies.
Old Town Bar (listed in 2010) – An important cultural and archaeological site from the Medieval period.
Doclea (listed in 2010) – An ancient Roman, Illyrian, and Byzantine town, now an archaeological site near Podgorica.
Biogradska Gora National Park (listed in 2010) – One of the last pristine forests in Europe, located within the heart of the Bjelasica mountain.
Ulcinj Old Town (listed in 2018) – A town in the south of Montenegro that reflects cultural imprints from various historical times and represents traditional settlements that have evolved and adjusted to the landscape.
Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe (listed in 2019) – The intention behind the nomination is to include a segment of Montenegro’s Biogradska Gora National Park into the serial property.
Montenegro tells tales of medieval prowess, natural splendours, and shared histories in the heart of the Balkans. Its UNESCO World Heritage Sites are chronicles of time, where stones whisper ancient secrets, and nature sings of timeless beauty. From Kotor’s resilient walls and Durmitor’s rugged peaks and emerald forests to stories etched on Stećci tombstones and time-withstanding Venetian fortifications, these places have silently watched centuries pass by.