Ancient seaport city of Ulcinj, Montenegro by National Tourist Organisation of MontenegroThe bustling, ancient seaport city of Ulcinj © National Tourist Organisation of Montenegro

A fascinating old town at the southern end of the Montenegrin coast, boasting an excellent museum and enormous green market.

As just one indication of how close Ulcinj is to its eastern neighbour, the population is 85–90% Albanian, most of them Muslim. In Albanian the name is Ulqin, and not unexpectedly that language is much in use in these parts.

Mrs Will Gordon tells a tale from the winter of 1916, when news was coming through of the Serbian retreat south, of two wounded British tommies chatting in a London hospital, one commenting:

“Oh I knows about Albania. Them’s Albinos there, people wot ’ave white ’air and pink eyes. Then they go and marry the Montenegro folk, who’re black and their kids are called Dalmatians – because they’re spotted black and white.”

The city is as bustling as ever, that never changes, but over the last few years Ulcinj has been in a somewhat transitional phase, with a number of the old state hotels either undergoing extensive renovation or seeking buyers; the streets readjusting to altered names; rumours abounding as to the future of the vast Velika Plaža (Big Beach) to the east of the city (where it is understood the government seeks to enter into a long-term lease agreement with an international company to provide a major tourist facility); and barely beneath the surface is an air of concerned anticipation.Above all, Ulcinj welcomes her visitors.

Hospitality to travellers is embedded in the hearts of Montenegrins and nowhere is it more evident than in these eastern corners of the country. Ulcinj Day is celebrated on the first Saturday in April.

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