As being partly in the Mediterranean, and partly in the Balkans, Montenegro enjoys diverse cultural influences deriving from the Mediterranean and the central and east European civilizations. Montenegroâ€™s rich and historical cultural heritage, which dates 1000 years back, is felt in every corner and throughout every region. Cultural monuments and land marks with historical tales are spread all around the old towns, with Byzantine architectural influences making their mark in the continental part of Montenegro, while medieval monasteries are uniquely decorated with thousands of square meters of frescoes along their walls. One of the most important dimensions in Montenegrin c ulture is the ethical ideal of â€œHumanity and Gallantryâ€�.
The culture of Montenegro is as pluralistic and diverse as its history and geographical position would suggest. Montenegro's culture has drawn influences mainly from Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, Christianity, Islam, Byzantine Empire, Bulgarian Empire, Serbian Empire, Ottoman Empire, Republic of Venice, Austria-Hungary, Kingdom of Italy, and Yugoslavia.
Ethical beliefsA very important dimension of Montenegrin culture is the ethical ideal of ÄŒojstvo i JunaÅ¡tvo, roughly translated as "Humanity and Bravery". Another result of its centuries long warrior history, it is the unwritten code of Chivalry that stipulates that to deserve a true respect of its people, a person has to show virtues of integrity, dignity, humility, self-sacrifice for the just cause, respect for others, and Rectitude along with the bravery. In the old days of battle, it resulted in Montenegrins fighting to the death, as being captured was considered the greatest shame. This code of conduct is still very much ingrained, to greater or lesser extent, in every Montenegrin's ethical beliefs system and it is essential that it be kept in mind in order to truly understand them. Most of extraordinary examples of Montenegrin conduct during its long history can be traced to the code.
Folk dancesOro: The traditional dance of Montenegrins (and Herzegovinian Serbs) is called the Oro, Dinaric-Serbian vernacular for Orao or "Eagle" - it also known as the CrmniÄ�ki Oro - due to its believed origin in the Crmnica region. It is as much a communal gathering and a game as it is a dance in the strictest sense. Typically, young men and women would gather and form a circle (kolo), then start to sing, usually in form of playfully mocking someone from the other side and daring them to enter the circle to dance. One of the more daring young men would then enter the circle, and start to dance in a stylistic imitation of an Eagle. The aim here is to impress. The gallery crowd will immediately respond with a "feedback" song, either praising or ridiculing him. Soon, a girl would join, quite often his girlfriend or possibly someone attracted by his display. She would also imitate an Eagle, but in a more elegant way. The gallery also keeps up. When the couple gets tired, they kiss each other on the cheek and another couple jumps into keep the kolo going, while the singing of the surrounding crowd never stops. Usually the young lads finish oro by forming a two-story circle, standing on one other's shoulders, inside the greater circle, and this is the scene that is the most recognisable and most often photographed part of the dance. Musical instruments are never part of the true Oro.
Epic songsMontenegrins' long-standing history of struggle for freedom and independence is invariably linked with strong traditions of oral epic poetry. Traditionally, they are delivered to the audience accompanied by the music produced by gusle, one-string instrument played by the story-teller (guslar), who sings or recites the stories of heroes and battles in decasyllabic verse. Historically, these songs have had an immense motivational power over the population. The guslars commanded almost as much respect as the best of warriors, as they were as much the authors, thus history writers, as they were interpreters. In the best "traditions" of the modern public domain and open-source movement, these songs had been composed and passed on by the unknown guslars since high middle ages onwards. Other guslars adopted the songs and could amend them as they saw fit, which usually resulted in a number of slightly different versions of the same story, of varying quality. The "quality control" were the listeners themselves, who loudly objected during the performance if some parts of the story were inaccurate or embellished out of proportion. The guslars had had more "poetical freedom" when they interpreted the events further back in the past, as there could have been no witnesses present. Thus, the historical accuracy of the song declined with the widening of the time gap. Most of the songs have been collected, assessed, and recorded on paper by Vuk KaradÅ¾iÄ‡ in the 19th century, along with Serbian epic poetry, some being of exceptional literary quality. The most famous recorded Serbian Guslar-interpreter was indisputably Petar PerunoviÄ‡ Perun, from PjeÅ¡ivci tribe. He was known as a great Montenegrin Serb, who traveled with heroic Serbian army during Great war, 1914-1918. He reached his peak during the first few decades of the 20th century, when he made numerous recordings and tours in America and all across Europe.
ArchitectureMontenegro has a number of significant cultural and historical sites, including heritage sites from the pre-Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque periods. The Montenegrin coastal region is especially well known for its religious monuments, mostly related to Venetian architecture, including the Cathedral of Saint Tryphon, the basilica of St. Luke (over 800 years), Our Lady of the Rock (Å krpjela), the Savina Monastery, and others. The ancient city of Cattaro (now called Kotor) is listed on the UNESCO World Heritage list, even as a perfect example of the Venetian architecture. The Byzantine influence in architecture, and in religious artwork is especially apparent in the country's interior.
LiteratureThe first literary works written in the region are ten centuries old, and the first Montenegrin book was printed five hundred years ago. The first state-owned printing press (Printing House of CrnojeviÄ‡i), was located in Cetinje in 1494, where the first South Slavic book was printed the same year (Oktoih). A number of medieval manuscripts, dating from the 13th century, are kept in the Montenegrin monasteries. The coastal Montenegro (called for centuries Venetian Albania) was heavily influenced by Renaissance Italy, mainly in literature. Ludovico Pasquali, Giovanni Bona de Boliris, and Giovanni Polizza were the main representatives in those centuries. On the substratum of traditional oral folk epic poetry, authors like Petar II PetroviÄ‡ NjegoÅ¡ have created in the last two centuries their own expression. His epic Gorski Vijenac (The Mountain Wreath), written in the Montenegrin vernacular, presents the central point of the Montenegrin culture, for many surpassing in importance even the Bible.
Painting and sculptureThe painters from Montenegro gave a great contribution to the affirmation of the Montenegrin culture in the world. Leaving to the other parts of the world (Paris, Belgrade, Zagreb), they took their Montenegrin soul and heritage with them, and passed it down to others through their artworks. The last 15 years saw the opening of the Faculty of the Fine Arts in Cetinje, bringing up a whole new wave of talent. Some of the most prominent artists are listed below:
The Montenegrin National Theatre in Podgorica is the only professional theatre, and along with the Faculty of Drama, located in Cetinje is responsible for the majority of theatre productions in the country. During the summer months, City Theatre in Budva takes precedence as a stage for performers coming from all corners of former Yugoslavia and the world. Many scholars believe that the biggest contribution to Montenegrin music in theater was the one from the Italian composer who spent the most part of his life in these areas: including Dionisio de Sarno San Giorgio. With his "Balkan Empress" â€“ inspired by the work of King Nikola, got all the praises of Italian critique in the second half of the 19th century.
Main article: Cinema of Montenegro Considering its population of about 600,000 people, Montenegro has produced a number of outstanding film directors and actors including DuÅ¡an VukotiÄ‡, the first Yugoslav Oscar winner (for the short animated film category in 1961), Veljko BulajiÄ‡, and Å½ivko NikoliÄ‡.