What you need to know
PODGORICA- COUNTRY MAP
Podgorica is the capital and largest city of Montenegro. The city was also called Titograd from 1946 to 1992 when Montenegro was part of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY).
Podgorica’s favourable position at the confluence of the Ribnica and Morača rivers and the meeting point of the fertile Zeta Plain and Bjelopavlići Valley has encouraged settlement. The city is close to winter ski centres in the north and seaside resorts on the Adriatic Sea.
The city’s population was 204,877 in the 2011 census. The Podgorica Municipality contains 10.4% of Montenegro’s territory and 29.9% of its population. It is the administrative centre of Montenegro and its economic, cultural and educational focus.
Though most Montenegrin citizens speak the same language, if you ask people on the street in the capital of Podgorica what language they speak, you are bound to get a handful of different answers: Montenegrin, Serbian, Serbo-Croatian, or Serbo-Montenegrin.
CURRENCY: Euro (€)
Podgorica is located in central Montenegro. The area is crossed with rivers and the city itself is only 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) north of Lake Skadar. The Morača and Ribnica rivers flow through the city, while the Zeta, Cijevna, Sitnica and Mareza flow nearby. Morača is the largest river in the city, being 70 m or 230 ft wide near downtown, and having carved a 20 m or 66 ft deep canyon for the length of its course through the city. Save for the Morača and Zeta, other rivers have an appearance of small creeks. The richness in bodies of water is a major feature of the city.
In contrast to most of Montenegro, Podgorica lies in a mainly flat area at the northern end of the Zeta plain, at an elevation of 40 m (130 ft). The only exceptions are hills which overlook the city. The most significant is 130.3 m (427 ft) high Gorica Hill, city’s namesake, which rises above the city centre. The other hills include Malo brdo (“little hill”, 205.4 m or 674 ft), Velje brdo (“big hill”, 283 m or 928 ft), Ljubović (101 m or 331 ft) and Dajbabska gora (172 m or 564 ft). In the main, these are too steep for development and thus limit the city’s expansion, especially to the north. However, urbanization has been encroaching on the lower slopes of the hills since 1990s. Podgorica city proper has an area of 108 square kilometres (42 sq mi), while actual urbanized area is much smaller.
Under the Köppen climate classification, Podgorica has a borderline Mediterranean climate (Csa) and humid subtropical climate (Cfa), since there is only one summer month with less than 40 millimeters (1.6 in) of precipitation, with summer highs around 30 °C (86 °F) and winter highs around 10 °C (50 °F). Although the city is only some 35 km (22 mi) north of the Adriatic Sea, an arm of the Mediterranean, Rumija mountain acts as a natural Dinaric Alps barrier, separating Skadar Lake basin and Podgorica area from the sea, thus limiting temperate maritime influence on the local climate.
Podgorica is built on the foundations of ancient settlements. Since the time of the Middle Paleolithic the development and emergence of different cultures can be continuosly observed: Greeks, Illyrians, Romans, Huns, Goths, Slavs, Byzantines and Ottomans, they were fighting for the benefits of the region where sea and the high mountains flavour combine, and they all left their trace.
Illyrian tribes Labeata and Dokleata lived in this area up until the Roman conquest.The Labeati inhabited the area of the Zeta valley, south of present- day Podgorica to Lake Skadar, as well as the area east of the river Moraca, downstream. West of the river Moraca, along the river Zeta lived the Docleati. Their most important fortification was at the mouth of the rivers Zeta and Moraca which later on developed into the town of Doclea. The earliest settlement at the mouth of Ribnica and Moraca – the caravan settlement, Birziminium, is just indicated in the ancient writings, but drawn by Roman cartographers. Doclea, a town that was first mentioned by Ptolemy in the second century BC, was a great place for that time, with 8 to 10 thousand people in the area with little more than ten miles in diameter, but complete utility infrastructure was there. It was destroyed in 602.
The name Podgorica was mentioned for the first time in 1326, when the town development started. Turks conquered powerful fortress of Medun in 1455 and in 1474 Podgorica also. Four centuries of Turkish rule began at that time. Where the river Ribnica joins the Moraca, on the foundations of the medieval city of Ribnica the Turks built a fortress, where later on a settlement developed, nowday’s Stara Varoš.
On Wasteland (sometimes used for camping of Turkish army) Nova Varoš was built – one time called Mirkova town -after the Duke Mirko, the father of King Nikola I Petrovic.
In World War II, Podgorica was bombed over 70 times and was razed to the ground. It was released on December 19th 1944. It was called Titograd from July 13th 1946 (when it became the capital of the Republic of Montenegro) to April 2nd in 1992.
The mean annual rainfall is 1,600 mm (63 in). The temperature exceeds 25 °C (77 °F) on about 135 days each year and the median daily temperature is 15.6 °C (60.1 °F). The number of rainy days is about 120, and those with a strong wind around 60. An occasional strong northerly wind influences the climate in the winter, with a wind-chill effect lowering the perceived temperature by a few degrees.
Podgorica is particularly known for its extremely hot summers: temperatures over 40 °C (104 °F) are common in July and August. The highest temperature recorded in Montenegro was 45.8 °C (114.4 °F), on 16 August 2007.
Snow is a rare occurrence in Podgorica: it rarely snows more than a few days per year. In February 2012, Podgorica had a snow cover for a record 25 days. The all-time maximum snowfall record was beaten on 11 February, when 58 cm (23 in) of snowfall were measured. Before that, the biggest snowfall in Podgorica was in 1954, when 52 cm (20 in) of snowfall were recorded.
Podgorica is not only the administrative centre of Montenegro, but also its main economic engine. Most of Montenegro’s industrial, financial, and commercial base is in Podgorica.
Before World War I, most of Podgorica’s economy was in trade and small-scale manufacture, which was an economic model established during the long rule of the Ottoman Empire. After World War II, Podgorica became Montenegro’s capital and a focus of the rapid urbanization and industrialization of the SFRY era. Industries such as aluminium and tobacco processing, textiles, engineering, vehicle production, and wine production were established in and around the city. In 1981, Podgorica’s GDP per capita was 87% of the Yugoslav average.
In the early 1990s, the dissolution of Yugoslavia, Yugoslav wars, and the UN-imposed sanctions left Podgorica’s industries without traditional markets, suppliers, and available funds. This, combined with typical transition pressures, led to a decline of the industrial base, where many industries collapsed leaving thousands of citizens unemployed. However, some of the industries, including Podgorica aluminium smelter and Plantaže, managed to survive the turmoil of the 1990s, and are still major contributors to Montenegrin export and industrial output to this day.
As Montenegro began its push for independence from Serbia in the late 1990s, Podgorica greatly benefited from increased concentration of government and service sectors. In addition to almost the entire country’s government, Podgorica is home to the Montenegro Stock Exchange and other major Montenegrin financial institutions, along with telecommunications carriers, media outlets, Montenegrin flag carrier airline, and other significant institutions and companies.
The large presence of government and service sectors spared the economy of Podgorica from prolonged stagnation in the late 2000s recession, which hit Montenegro hard. Although, in mid-2014, some 30% of Montenegro’s citizens lived in Podgorica, the municipality accounted for 44% of the country’s employed. Out of the entire mass of paid nwt salaries in Montenegro in that year, some 47% was paid in Podgorica. The average monthly net salary in May, 2014 was €509 in Podgorica municipality.
Podgorica is home to three main religious groups: Orthodox Christians, Sunnite Muslims and Catholic Christians.
Orthodox Christian population mostly originates from the local Montenegrin and Serb population, which accepted Orthodox Christianity in Middle Ages after a major split during The Great Schism. They represent the major religious group. There are various Eastern Orthodox churches in the City such as St. George Church which originates from the 13th century, or Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ which is largest church in the city to have been recently erected. The Muslim population mostly originates from local Bosniaks, as well as Albanians.
There are several mosques in Podgorica and Tuzi. Catholic population mainly consists of local autochthonous Albanian minority. The main religious site for the Catholic population located in the Konik neighbourhood is the Church of the Holy Heart of Jesus constructed in 1966, in Brutalist style which makes this object unique. Other Catholic objects are located in eastern suburb Tuzi.
Public transport in Podgorica consists of 11 urban and 16 suburban bus lines. The city-owned AD Gradski saobraćaj public transport company used to be the sole bus operator until the 1990s, when private carriers were introduced. The company went bankrupt in 2001, and buses were since operated solely by private carriers.
Public transport faces competition from very popular dispatched taxi services. De-regulation and stiff competition has made taxi services very affordable. Over 20 taxi companies are operating in Podgorica with close to 800 vehicles in service. Usually, taxi companies provide a high level of service, with relatively new and uniform car fleets and GPS-tracked vehicles.
Podgorica’s location in central Montenegro makes it a natural hub for rail and road transport. Roads in Montenegro (especially those connecting Podgorica to northern Montenegro and Serbia) are usually inferior to modern European roads. Both major Montenegrin motorway projects, Belgrade–Bar motorway and Adriatic Ionian motorway, will pass near Podgorica. The newly built Sozina tunnel (4.2 km) shortened the journey from Podgorica to Bar (Montenegro’s main seaport) to under 30 minutes. Also a new road bypass has been constructed in 2011, to remove transport routes from north to south of the country, out of the city centre. A south-western bypass has also been planned, with same goal of moving heavy transport out of the city core. Podgorica is also characteristic for its extensive network of multi-lane boulevards which make inner city transport quick and effective. Traffic over the Morača River also goes fluently since river banks are very well connected with 6 vehicular and 3 pedestrian bridges.
The current main transit connections of Podgorica are:
- north (E65, E80), towards Belgrade and on to Central Europe
- west (E762), towards Nikšić, Bosnia and on to Western Europe
- south (E65, E80) towards the Adriatic coast
- east (E762), towards Albania
Podgorica is a hub of the X-shaped Montenegrin rail network. The Belgrade–Bar line converges with the line to Nikšić and line to Shkodër at the Podgorica Rail Station. The station itself is located 1.5 km (0.93 mi) to the southeast of the main city square. Podgorica’s main railway link (for both passenger and freight traffic) is Belgrade–Bar. The link to Nikšić was recently under reconstruction (electrification); afterwards, passenger service started in October 2012. The rail link to Shkodër is currently used as freight-only.
Podgorica Airport is located in Zeta Plain, 11 km (6.8 mi) south of the city centre, and is Montenegro’s main international airport. A new passenger terminal was opened on 13 July 2006, and since then, passenger traffic has almost doubled to 748,175 passengers in 2015. The airport has regular flights to major European cities throughout the year.