One of the highlights of our time in Montenegro was the hike in Lovćen National Park to the top of Jezerski Vrh, where the Njegoš Mausoleum is located.
We had made inquiries in advance and had renounced the path that most tourists take. We didn’t want to drive to the small car park, we wanted to hike. Our host gave us the tip to drive into the national park and park at the national park centre. There we could have the path shown to us on a map, buy maps and the hiking trail would start in the immediate vicinity.
Hike through Lovćen National Park
The tip was really spot on. Two friendly park employees explained the way and sent us to the entrance of the signposted hiking route. Actually, you have to buy a ticket from a ranger for hiking in the national park. However, we were not asked about this in the national park centre and hiked without an “entrance ticket”.
The national park is located in the Dinaric Mountains, which rise steeply inland from the Adriatic Sea. The Lovćen mountain massif with the peak of Mount Štirovnik (1,749 m) is part of the park, which was established in 1952. The park’s terrain covers about 64 km².
Our hike began quite calmly at first. The path led moderately uphill in a rather barren landscape. The path is marked, but you have to look for the signs. Sometimes a stone is painted with a symbol, sometimes it’s an arrow, and you usually look in vain for a sign. We had previously saved our route on a map and were quite happy to get a hint in some places. The path itself was sometimes not recognisable as a path and so we literally walked over “hill and dale”.
The Lovćen National Park is said to have about 2000 different plant species. I have to admit, at the end of September, the abundance of plants was certainly there, but the ground was more than dry and so most of the time we walked rather through a stony landscape. Only later did we come to areas with forest, and on the way back (we walked a different route, about 5 kilometres) the path lay between meadows. Here you had more of a feeling of experiencing nature, especially when you saw lizards and birds disappear into the undergrowth.
As we got closer and closer to our destination, the mausoleum, the path became steeper and steeper. Here, at the latest, good footwear pays off and in some places I was glad to be able to hold on to a tree.
After about 5 kilometres and more than 400 metres of altitude difference, we reached the spot that many other visitors to the mausoleum had approached by car. Certainly the more comfortable way, but I would not like to experience this extraordinary landscape, which we were able to get up close to during this time, from the car.
Tip: Most of the trail leads through terrain without shade. Think of sun protection!
Our hiking route in Lovćen National Park on a map:
At an altitude of 1655 metres on the summit of Jezerski Vrh stands the Njegoš Mausoleum. It is the most visited excursion destination in the national park.
Petar II Petrović Njegoš had a burial chapel built on the top of the mountain in 1845, where he was buried in 1854. The prince-bishop created a school and tax system in Montenegro that was modern by the standards of the time. Even today, one can find many references to his work in the country.
Before the First World War, the Montenegrins built a fortress on the mountain massif with French help. In 1916, the Austrians conquered the area, the burial chapel was destroyed and rebuilt in 1925.
In 1970-74, a Croatian sculptor created the mausoleum and the sculptures standing there.
We pay our entrance fee in front of a tunnel and then enter a long illuminated passage. Over 400 steps now lead into the cool tunnel through the mountain to the mausoleum.
You come to a small courtyard flanked by two figures. In the marble-lined burial chamber is a granite figure of the prince.
For us and most visitors, however, this was not the actual aim of the visit. If you walk around the figure and leave the building, you reach a viewing platform. From here you can overlook almost the entire country and it becomes clear why Petar II Petrović Njegoš chose this place as his burial site.
We can discover the Bay of Kotor, the Durmitor Mountains, Budva, Lake Skadar and Cetinje. What an indescribable view!
For us, it was worth the long climb – standing here and seeing the panorama is one of those impressions you won’t soon forget.