Cetinje Monastery is not a typical landmark. It is the source of national and spiritual identity. It had a crucial role in the history of Montenegro. During the hardships of invasions, Cetinje Monastery was the incentive for endurance. It inspired people to fight for their lands and lives. Nowadays, the monastery shines in all its glory. Its renaissance architecture attracts visitors around the globe.
History of Cetinje Monastery
The monastery was built in 1484 by Ivan Crnojevic and dedicated to the birth of the Virgin Mary. During his stay in Ancona, Crnojevic was drawn by the beauty of Basilica Della Santa Casa. Inspired by its beauty, he took an oath to build a church and dedicate it to the mother of God.
After its completion, the monastery became the seat of the new Eparchy of Cetinje.
The monastery was in peril twice during the Morean War. During the first plunder of Cetinje, the Turks did not gravely damage the monastery. They intended to pacify Montenegrins and prevent them from aiding the Venetians. According to a tale, soldiers did start to plunder the monastery. However, as one soldier tried to take down the cross from the roof, lightning struck him. The soldiers saw this as a sign from God and left the monastery. In 1689 the Venetians were invited to take control of Cetinje. Upon arrival, they barricaded themselves in the monastery.
The destruction of the monastery
The Turks attacked the monastery again in 1692. Instead of fighting, the Venetians reached an agreement to leave under favored terms. However, this was only to deceit the Turks. They planted a bomb set to explode in the evening. The bomb exploded after the Venetians left, and while the Turks were celebrating, killing many of them. After that, the Dobrska Celija Monastery briefly became the seat of the Metropolitanate.
Vladika Danilo reestablished the Cetinje Monastery in 1701. They used the stones from the demolished monastery and rebuilt it. They added the coat of arms of the Crnojevica family in honor of Ivan Crnojevic.
Before 1714 the monastery burnt to the ground. However, Metropolitan Sava Petrovic Njegos restored it in 1743. The last damage of the monastery occurred in 1785 when Mahmud Pasha Bushati sacked Cetinje.
Ultimately defeated in the battle of Krusi, his severed head still serves as a relic in the monastery. The monastery was rebuilt several times, but the current design originates from 1927.