Thanks to engineer Josip Slade from Trogir and his urban plan from 1883, winding streets of former town which had connected mahallahs were replaced by plain streets of geometrized system. Led by renaissance city plans, Slade created an ideal plan and precisely bearing in mind every single detail, natural conditions and landmarks. Just like Italian urban planners and architects who were delighted with squares, he gave it a place of honor. This element has become town core of Nikšić. A playwright who grew up in that urban area wrote that he gained all the necessary knowledge on space and mise-en- scène from the square.
The square intersects six streets which radially lead to this urban town essence. One of them which enters the square area from two sides represents an axle which is connected to Nikšić urbanism just like an artery is connected to a heart. Van Hahn and Schlippe described Niksic as, without doubt, the most beautiful town in Montenegro. New, beautiful streets surely contributed to such impression. Two town emblems were built at the turn from 19th to 20th century: the Cathedral Church of St. Basil of Ostrog, built on Petar’s hill that fascinates visitors and King Nikola’s Palace whose beauty has been compared with Bavarian kings’ residences.
Njegoševa Street, whose part was once called Gundulić Street, together with the square form a well-known Nikšić promenade. The promenade as a citizens’ collectively developed and acquired habit has become the busiest and the most interesting social and special phenomenon in the town N. Vito Nikolić, Mirko Kovač as well as Božo Koprivica mark the town only with a letter N. Publishing of a collection of poems by Tin Ujević “Auto na korzu” in 1932 represents an important instance of coincidence or destiny in regards to this story of fragmented space which has been limited by landmarks such as Hotel Onogošt from one side and post office building from another. There is an urban whole facing Njegoševa Street and Freedom Square which is spatially separated from different sides by town Rampart tower and Vuk Karadžic Street.
Lewis Mumford, one of the most significant interpreters of the city phenomenology, described a street as a collection of styles. At the town surface, among many people that have left their trace here, architectural plans by Slade, Preobrazhensky, Sukurenko and two local engineers Minjević and Vukajlović stand out. However, their styles are not only architectural but also human, personal and social.
Marko Kavaja kept detailed records of streets in Nikšić at the end of 19th century. He stated that the new fashion started in Nikšić. Meetings usually took place at Holy communions because people from neighborhood would gossip about girls who went out to meet boys. Wax and lard were commonly used for moustache nurturing. Barbers had their hands full styling moustache and hair. Wells were meeting places. Kavaja mentions Đođije Novaković and Vaso Đurović as dandyism originators in Nikšić. Atmosphere was often strained but also lively. It was marked with drunken parties and brawls as well as revolver drawing. Offenders were brought to prison underneath the Rampart where they sometimes continued their drinking with guards.
Njegoševa Street encompasses Šobajic family visionary spirit, Stojan Cerović’s intellectual charm, Vito Nikolić and Dugo Krivokapić’s poetics and bohemia and innate gentry of actor Petar Banićević, famous for his roles of Hamlet in Belgrade theaters and who grew up in Nikšić.
That part of former Ivan Gundulić Street remembers shops such as textile, goldsmith’s shop, sweets shop, bakery, barber shop, liquor store as well as bookstore Mladost and the town’s first cinema projector.
Houses decorated with beautiful business name boards in the town core fascinated painter Vojo Stanišić. Some of those boards found their place in his masterpieces. He felt and recognized the spirit of former Nikšić and always emphasized the gentry of the place he grew up in.
When it comes to architectural buildings, we should probably first focus on Tupljanin family house (1924), an almost a century old and among citizens well known house. This building in Njegoševa Street, together with former Chess club (1910) which changed its purpose in Novaka Ramova Street and Dobrilović family house (1908) facing town park, represent a symbol of dignified building style.
Neither wars and bombings nor crises could have happened without witty remarks, reactions, comments and events in this unusual town. Not even the hardest moments in this town history could affect its spirit which remained as its halo. An anecdote about Stevan Vuković, known as Stevan Zlatni (Golden Stevan), could be found in both literary works and chronicles. Namely, when the Allies bombed Nikšić, someone asked him, “Whose planes are these?” on which he wisely responded, “I don’t know but the bombs are ours”.
One of the most distinctive people in the town was a carrier who earned his nickname after an accustomed word for a street – džada. That is how the carrier star was born. He remained famous and remembered as Jovo Džada. Just like all outstanding people, he had a specific worldview. He liked Njegoš, Šantic and Shakespeare. He spent his days dragging luggage and resting on his trolley, enjoying siestas between dreams and reality. He would sometimes write down a few thoughts in his notebook just to have something to think about or something to interpret. He was adorned with innate wisdom enriched by humor and cleverness that could be gained only on a street. Two dogs felt his tenderness and found shelter in his presence. He named them Trum and Ajk and took care of them. Almost an entire town came to say their final goodbye when he passed away.
Small hotels marked Nikšić hospitality in prewar period. Evropa, Bristol and Nikšić last of which is connected with Luj Davičo’s sabotage act, were located in the lower part of Karađorđeva Street. This street was called Nikolić Street as well after a wealthy family that lived there. At the other side, in today’s Njegoševa Street, Amerika hotel, later hotel Javorak, used to be open.
Cafes marked a long period of this place history. They were counterparts of cultural institutions and sport societies’ rooms. Some of them still foster a spirit of that time. Koka cafe is one of them, located in Katinska Street also known as Pic mala, Zagrebačka, Hrvatska, Ulica pomoraca or, officially, Manastirska Street. Many stories cherish old tradition of Nikšić cafes and their particularity. For example, Gradska café had the first jukebox.
Njegoševa Street spans from the main roundabout, center of Slade’s plan, to the stadium. Its first intersection is a crossroad with a street named after Josip Slade whose direction goes to Vuk Mićunović Boulevard and Lazar Sočica Street which leads to the town park. Freedom Square is located in front of former America or Javorak hotel. There are two monuments in the square: a monument of King Nikola Petrović I, a work by Belgrade sculptor Miodrag Živković (set up in 2006) and a monument of national hero Ljubo Čupić, a work by sculptor Zlatko Glamocek (unveiled in 2018). Zoomorphic sculpture of birds is located here as well, a work by Milun Miško Čvorović, set up in 2005. Apart from Njegoševa Street spreading from two directions, four other streets lead to the Square (Manastirska Street, Novaka Ramova Street Novica Cerović and Karađorđeva Street). Njegoševa Street intersects the V Proleteske Brigade Street and Narodni heroji Street from the other side. Zahumlje, a cultural-artistic society of long and rich history, is located in the first street while a former Napredak (Progress) cinema building, which was described in works by writers that spent their childhood in Nikšić, is located in the second one. Municipality building and Hotel Onogošt, a cultural meeting place whose terrace was a stage of many anecdotes, are both located along the sidewalk. There is a small statue of embracing couple among shrubberies in front of the hotel, a work by sculptor Branko Tomanovic (1971). A large building of Dom Revolucije (Home of Revolution), whose plan was made by Marko Mušić, is located across the street. The street furthermore leads to former printing house and Ratko Zarić primary school in whose schoolyard a bust of this national hero was set up. The last part of this street spans between Sport Centre and Trebjesa Brewery which has been cherishing the tradition of brewing in Nikšić which started with Vuk Krivokapić’s effort and vision. A bust of Đorđije Premović, a national hero with career in moviemaking business, is located in the brewery yard. A new, road bridge was built over Bistrica river between two stone bridges. One of them is located next to former Mijušković mill while the other one, the so called Gorda’s bridge, was built thanks to Gorda Đuranović’s (latter Filipović and finally Sjekloća) good deed at the beginning of 20th century. People called her Dobrska, after a village she had moved from. She was a church benefactor and she donated a fountain to the town. Stadium buildings are located at the end of this street. St. Nikola church was built in 1900 underneath the hill and it inspired Ilija Šobajic to build a sport complex with stadia and additional fields for FC Sutjeska and FC Čelik which is, unfortunately, no longer active. First playgrounds spread all over the town. A stadium was at first located behind the Cathedral Church which but was later moved next to Bistrica river. Tuzović wrote about prewar Nikšić football and states that it could not be specifically determined by whom was the first football ball brought to Nikšić. Mijušković brothers could have brought it (from Italy or France), or perhaps Risto Đuričić (from Poland), Gavro Vujica from Graz, Pavle Cerović or Ljubo Petrović. In a Victory of Football text, Nikolić wrote that Ljubo Sakov Petrović brought the first ball and a bicycle to Nikšić in 1911. Fellow citizens were at first skeptical in regards to these inventions. Later, however, the town has been recognized for beer, steel and football.
Memory plaques were specifically notable. When it comes to town center, there is a memory plaque for Nikšić KPJ, formed in 1920, and another plaque on the building of Graphic Institute. Both of these plaques are connected to the buildings located in Njegoševa Street. Three memory plaques are placed on Freedom square. One of them has been put on a place where a provincial committee had once been located while other two have been placed on one of the old buildings. A story about his house located in northern square edge is interesting. Narodna misao paper, formed after Nevesinje and Onogošt papers, carried news about Risto Radnić’s death on December 27th, 1906. Since the deceased had not had children, he decided to leave his assets to a primary school. This act enabled education to poor children for years. A memory plaque put up on the building façade serves as a testimony of this humane gesture. Beside this one, there is another plaque that records the pioneer printing undertakings of Pobjeda paper whose first publication happened on October 24th, 1944.
Houses, doors, portals, windows, balcony fences, wall ornaments and similar elements one passes by as well as benches and street lighting together form a street layout. Houses and their inscriptions present a clear town image to percipients offering small spaces and trajectories that connect specific parts of one place. Meeting places represent a significant part of an identity of every spiritually consumed town. Nikšić is surely one of such towns. In such places people linger at least to engage in brief communication taking a break from daily errands or simply spend time outside, retelling various news and discussing everything. Njegoševa Street together with Freedom Square is filled with those locations. There is an example which illustrates this situation at the time when there was no internet when communication was direct. Namely, poet Vitomir Nikolić wrote that on the former Marshal Tito Squere underneath leeward next to Jugoplastika where a cafe is located today, one could have found anyone who one had been looking or at least somebody who knew where the wanted one had been. Thus, sunbathed side of the square was a meeting place and unofficial intelligence service.
Viikiliä wrote that Erensterm brought wind to Helsinki. Accordingly, one can say that Slade brought sun in Nikšić town center. Books, paper articles by chroniclers, historians, journalists and publicists preserve the history of this town.
Njegoševa.me is a project which aims at preserving the spirit as well as presenting the riches of four streets that represent symbols of four towns. The common thread, which draws different texts and photo galleries together, refers to one address, Njegoševa Street, though in different towns in Montenegro. Cetinje, Podgorica, Herceg Novi and Nikšić are selected towns in which this main town’s street is abundant with characteristic urban features. Project Coordinator is PhD Maja Đurić.