Montenegro hides natural beauty and an intriguing history behind what seems like a harsh landscape. One of the country’s best-known mountains is the Bobotov Kuk. This is the highest peak in the Durmitor chain, which has been a National Park since 1952.
The canyons along the rivers Tara, Sušica and Draga, and the upper valley of the river Komarnica are not to be missed. In 1977, the river Tara Gorge, or Canyon, and the area round about became a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, three years later, being added to the World Heritage List, along with the Durmitor mountain range.
This is a land whose cuisine is keyed on simple, traditional country tastes, blended with Italian influences due to Montenegro’s having been under the dominion of the Venetian Republic from 1420 until 1797. There’s more. Montenegro’s close proximity to Turkey, and the Austro-Hungarian empire, have also left their mark. While the use of vegetables, meat, and fish, along with olive oil are typical of Mediterranean cuisine, there is also “kuvani brav”, or boiled lamb, as well as “pivski kajmak”, which is the special heavy cream that comes from the Piva region, and also “skakavica” that is fish marinated in white cabbage, olive oil, and lemon.
A showcase of biodiversity and, since 1991, Europe’s first Ecological State
On September 20 1991, Montenegro’s parliament adopted the Declaration on the Ecological State, not least in view of the country’s being one of Europe’s last environmental oases.
While Montenegro is very small, its biodiversity is extensive. Indeed, the country has four protected areas. These are Biogradska Gora, one of the few virgin forests remaining in Europe; Lake Skadar (also called Lake Scutari, Lake Shkodër, and Lake Shkodra), which is the largest inland water in the Balkan region, and which boasts many fish and bird species, the best-known probably being pelicans; the Durmitor mountains; and Mount Lovćen, which is a symbol of the country, thanks to its being the location of the mausoleum of Petar II Petrović Njegoš (1813-1851), the Prince-Bishop of Montenegro, who was also a poet and philosopher.
Conjuring mountains and lakes at the Montenegro Pavilion
The concept informing the country’s pavilion is the courtyard, which is where farmers dry their crops. Looking up, we see a structure formed of wool yarn that recreates the spectacle of the peaks of the Durmitor mountain range. These reflect from the mirrored floor of the courtyard, evoking the image of the Black Lake (Crno jezero), which has been referred to as the loveliest lake in the Durmitor National Park.
Appearing as a special guest at Montenegro’s National Day at Expo, which is scheduled for May 20, is the well-known Montenegrin classical guitarist Miloš Karadaglić, whose music will take visitors into the heart of Montenegro, evoking lakes, nature, food, and freedom.