The city of Pljevlja, just across the border of Serbia in neighboring Montenegro, reminded me of the Višegrad of the Ivo Andric’ novel, “Bridge over the River Drina.” We visited the city over the Labor Day weekend attending a friend’s wedding. It is the third largest city in Montenegro and is located in a wild, beautiful region of canyons, rivers, and forests.
There was a relaxed, dusty feel to the city. Most impressive were the two Islamic minarets and the old Ottoman cemetery next to our hotel. The Ottoman Turks ruled Pljevlja for centuries and these are their legacy. There name for it Taslidža, which referred to the rocky landscape. Owen thought the country should be called Rock Negro, as they are everywhere. In Andric’s novel, the novel starts in the Ottoman times and ends with the arrival of the Austrians to the dusty river town of Višegrad. Pljevlja felt like that city after the Austrians had left. We visited the large Hussein Pasha’s mosque which dates back to 1569. It had been beautifully restored, but looked abandoned with uncut grass and a street dog sleeping on the front steps. The old Ottoman cemetery next to our hotel also had very long grass and looked like no one ever visited it.
The city today is mostly ethnically Serbian, politically Montenegrin, and it looks Bosnian. It sounds like it should be part of Yugoslavia with this mix.
This is my favorite part of the Balkans, the region of Tara as I call it. It encompasses the Tara River and has snow-capped mountains, river canyons, pine forests, and lots of wildlife. So far we visited Mokra Gora in Serbia and now Durmitor and the Pljevlja municipality. I hope to explore Tara more.