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Herceg Novi

All streets carry someone’s name or are dedicated to something – only Njegoševa Street belongs to Njegoš

How many times have you said or even heard a phrase “you sound just like Njegoš”? We, of course, all know that this refers to an exquisite intellectual peculiarity of a statement whose ultimate ingeniousness is compared with our finest mind. This mind was born in bright town of Cetinje and educated in beautiful Boka, or more precisely in my town, Herceg Novi. Just imagine this!!! Just imagine this town where one of the most literate people among South Slavs and the biggest intellectual figure and authority in the region, Petar II Petrović Njegoš, was taught literacy.

Nevertheless, let me go back to “you sound just like Njegoš”. One can utter an intellectual statement, do, think or play with something or even bring a book or anything else that could be characterized with this comparative phrase “like Njegoš”. However, have you ever heard, “that street looks like Njegoševa Street”

No? Neither have I. Never!

There are beautiful streets and squares in our Herceg Novi and they all carry names of great figures of “our nations and nationalities” or people who enabled us to have our freedom today such as Maršal Tito Square, Pet Danica Promenade, Sava Kovačević Street, Stairway October 28, Nikola Đurković Square, Marko Vojinović Street, St. Leopold Mandić Park, Marko Car Square etc. None of these toponyms is expressed through possessive nouns – it is not Tito’s Square, Sava’s Street, Marko’s street and park is not Leopold’s. Promenade is not Danica’s. They are named after people who deserved it.

However, only one street is Njegoševa Street.

Only that street truly belongs to somebody. That somebody is, I would say, the only one who deserved to have the largest, main street, a backbone around which Herceg Novi has been developing, forming a town and an urban area. This is where a great architect Nikola Dobrović formed the town’s looks and contours around the backbone – Njegoševa Street.

Njegoš belonged and still belongs in Herceg Novi where his first encounter with Boka Kotorska happened when Rade Tomo’s (Tomo was his father) was twelve years old. “Contemporaries described him as a handsome child with stern look yet mild nature”. This young pupil, Petar I Petrović Njegoš’s nephew, came to Topla in Herceg Novi to study and prepare himself for heir. Petar I Petrović Njegoš believed that young Rade is “a person of work and reason” and that he could be dignified heir and bishop. Before coming to Topla, Njegoš studied in Cetinje Monestery to be a deacon. He was gifted and he easily acquired knowledge through lectures, fiddle, stories and different events. Petar I saw his nephew’s giftedness and wanted to give him proper education. Russian court in Petrograd refused to give him education in Russia. London was a possible place for education. However, Petar I refused this and chose Boka Kotorska. Hieromonk Josif Tropović from Savina Monastery was in charge of Njegoš’s education. Josif Tropović was a man of good reputation. He was respected among brethren and popular among folk people, responsible and dedicated to his profession. Today, it is written in Stazama Boke, he is best known for being Njegoš’s first significant teacher. Thus, a street was named after him. It goes, from the main square underneath Tora (Sat Kula, tower), slowly and gently westward, leaning against the façade of west walls and Boka and St. Leopold Parks, touching modern boutiques located in stone facades, Dobrićeva building and see views, greeting houses of Pavković and Duković families as well as the best mayor Mirko Komenović’s house and house of another great literary and social figure, whose words were also “like Njegoš’s” and so far the only Nobel prize winner in this area – Ivo Andrić. The street then goes by Josif Tropović School, which is now renovated and renamed to Njegoš’s School. The street, witnessing the past times touches witnesses of modern ones – tennis courts and then over Milašinovic Bridge, next to Novi Sad resort, goes down westward to Galeb villa and to the beginning of the central part of Igalo.

So many symbols! One might think, “Coincidence”! No, it could not be coincidental. All of that belongs to Njegoš and his street. All that, even if it existed before and after Njegoš, represents Njegoš in Herceg Novi. It represents a marvelous metaphor of what Rade Tomo’s promoted and wanted to implement. From Old Town, the town’s core and town’s root for developing its identity and identity of its citizens, it goes westward, towards developed civilization. It follows the time context in footstep in which it develops and overpowers it with its ingeniousness and incredible ability to adapt and combine its origin and the place it strives to be. Njegoš as well as his street in Herceg Novi strived for width, infinity and immortality which you gain from your origin and actions, living and educating both institutionally and non-institutionally. Njegoševa Street offers such education – institutional to those who attend schools and craft shops learning their professions and non-institutional while they sat on iron bars jelling at each other posing as idlers to be in the center of “korzo” attention while coming up with their own love romantic syntagmas which were rewarded with first kisses in nearby shades.

Njegoševa Street, although sometimes unwillingly, constantly educates, since it witnesses the past as well as present but also hints the future. Thus, when you see the building carrying the Njegoševa No. 1 sign, you can see Leso Pavković’s house in sublime baroque style where, surprisingly, a bank is located today. When you go further westward along paved Njegoševa Street, along pedestrian zone, you will pass by five banks on the square, apart from the previously mentioned one. You will then see, in front of you, a supermarket, a pharmacy/cosmetics, a boutique, a boutique, a boutique, a boutique, and then once again a boutique, a boutique, a boutique, a watchmaker, a jewelry shop. Then, at your right side, you will see witnesses of bad past and present moments – decrepit, destructed Milk restaurant symbolizing failed privatization of hotel and hospitality service firm Boka. It is a black hole which is, unfortunately, a constant in Montenegro in which everything, as well as Njegoševa Street, must have a HOWEVER just to disrupt harmony, idyll and beauty such as the see underneath the town, this beautiful sky above us and incredible Orjen and Lovćen touching it. This beauty is not subjective, it is not a fantasy and local patriotism coming from someone writing these lines. No. It is something that Njegoš himself wrote and I do not know if he used such epithet when describing any other town in his works. Namely, having finished his education in Herceg Novi, Njegoš returned to it, seven years later and visited Savina Monastery on December 8th, 1833. There is an assumption that on this occasion lyrics from Gorski Vijenac dedicated to Herceg Novi were written because this genius himself could not remain dumb when met with beauty, harmony, soul and aura of Novi town which tamed waves and counted their splashes against it. Rade Tomo’s furthermore glorifies the town by giving it wisdom of an old, calmed man carrying a rosary, consumed in his thoughts in correlation with the sea.

The sea, this beautiful blue friend, pal, leader, teacher, comrade, guardian and punisher is best seen where pedestrian part of Njegoševa Street ends, where Gradstka kafana terrace opens the sea view of blue Adriatic see whose soul between Arza and Prevlaka goes into Boka and stays there forever just like this beautiful bay remains to be a part of soul and identity of everyone who has been here and felt this iodized air mixed with fresh and proud hills of Montenegro and Herzegovina, culture and pride of Boka’s sailors and fishermen, air that forms personality and which can only be described as a spirit of freedom. Here, in this crucial part, as you turn eastward, you will see where Njegoševa Street comes from, you will see Lovćen. You will see it in its grandeur, freely, proudly and spitefully but also visionary rising above Boka and showing us the place from which Rade Tomo’s had come from and where he came back to rest eternally. And just like that, although unofficially, it could be said that Aleksa Šantic, admiring the beauty of Boka dedicated great Njegoš and Lovćen his poem Boka in 1906 saying that the greatest Montenegrin son rests there and that it is a place from where freedom will start and its victorious strength will be carried by eagles over entire country from hills to the sea during their cruising over unending blueness colored by wounded hands from which bondages were removed. Celebration of golden Liberation day, as Šantić called it, is best carried by geniuses in whose honor people make nests as well as those who gain immortality by dedicating a part of their towns to these grand figures.

And just like Njegoš, above mentioned Ivo Andriš as well as Aleksa Šantić, Kostić, Raičković, Džumhur, Dado, Lubarda, Tošković, Stanić, many more great artistic figures also studied, created, lived and walked along Njegoševa Street or around it.

And all of them have a toponym denoting their names but there is only one town’s backbone. Only one street is Njegoš’s – Njegoševa Street.