High atop an otherwise untouched mountaintop in the European country of Montenegro, the Mausoleum of Petar II Petrović-Njegoš remembers one of the region’s beloved leaders with a contest-designed tomb that still could not please many critics.
Petar II Petrović Njegoš was more than just the Prince-Bishop of Montenegro. He was a philosopher and a poet, and beyond that he was a beloved political and cultural leader. Njegoš requested to be buried at a tiny chapel he had built before his death in 1851. After he passed, his body was indeed interred in the humble chapel, but it was not to rest there indefinitely. Unfortunately the small chapel was badly damaged during a war and his body was moved to its current mountaintop home. More than a hundred years later in 1974, Montenegrin authorities replaced Njegoš’ burial chapel with an impressive mausoleum designed by someone who had never been to the mountain, inciting protests among a number of citizens.
Located within Lovćen National Park, the newly built mausoleum is perched atop one of Mount Lovćen’s two peaks. The dramatic building is reached after taking a long road that winds up the mountain, followed by a hike up 461 steps on foot. Inside the mausoleum is a large granite statue of Njegoš, a darkened room that contains his tomb, and a 360-degree stone viewing circle. One can see more than half of the tiny country from the summit, from the Bay of Kotor to Lake Skadar to Podgorica. On a clear day, even Albania and Croatia are visible. Despite the protests, few can claim that the Mausoleum of Petar II Petrovic-Njegos is not beautiful enough for a national hero.