SPRINGS OF HERCEG NOVI
The existence of an inexhaustible and generous spring was one of the main preconditions for formation of old Herceg Novi at this location. The city was founded and governed by the Bosnian rulers during a full century, until 1482, when it was occupied by the Turks that remained there until usurpation of Herceg Novi by the Venetian Reign in 1687. From the Turkish period, originates present name of the spring (Karadzha, in Turkish Black Water).
There are several legends related to the spring, among which is the one who says that brigand Grujica had taken away the beautiful woman of the dignitary Rifat Pasha, in order to demand a lot of treasure for her ransom, while she was filling a bowl of clear, cold water from the Karacha spring.
Karaca was important for the old Herceg Novi until the beginning of the 20th century, when the town got the first water supply system with water caught outside its walls. Nevertheless, this spring has retained certain significance and continued further on until the 80s of the 20th century. Karacha today has the status of a protected cultural heritage.
The writer Ivo Andric, the occasional resident of Herceg Novi and the only Nobel Prize winner from the territory of the former Yugoslavia, wrote: “In Herceg Novi, there are several places of antique fountains or only traces of fountains. According to the built access paths, on walls or sub-walls, it can be seen that some of them have always been there, even in Turkish times and perhaps even earlier. Some of these fountains are either overgrown or abandoned, that it is difficult to notice their trace. Some still run with a strong, bright stream, and some trickles or drops like brandy cattle. At some of them is still preserved a characteristic Turkish stone pipe, worn out from hands and ruined throughout the time and at some of them it is completely missing and replaced with an iron pipe later in the Austrian epoch.
For military and strategic reasons it has always been very important that the fortified city has a spring within its own walls in order to resist prolonged siege. In the old Herceg Novi, there were as many as five fountains and one of them is just the spring at the foot of the fortress Forte Mare (Italian: the Sea Fortress).
There is a record that during the siege of Herceg Novi, in September 1687, the Venetians noticed that the Turkish military crew from Forte Mare furtively comes to the spring below the fortress to take water and later the Venetian soldiers tried to disable it and thus to increase chances of occupying the city.
Interestingly, in the end, the Venetians with allies really took over Herceg Novi but mostly thanks to the battle in the hinterland, in the vicinity of another spring – Kotobilje Spring, where the Turkish reinforcement from Herzegovina was stopped. During the siege, and later, the Venetians used the spring Tinturia, located west of the sieged city, near the present tunnel and the City Museum.
During the siege of Herceg Novi in September 1687, the Venetian army used this spring as the first one that was not within the range of cannons from the city. Among other things, thanks to this spring, Herceg Novi was liberated by the long-standing Turkish authorities on 30th September 1687. Thirteen years later, during the Venetian administration, a memorial board was put up – a saying:
Komes (prince) Aikona,
30th July 1700
Since then, the spring has been in permanent use, it was even used for a local textile paint – tinturia, which was held by the grandfather of the famous citizen of Herceg Novi, Saint Leopold Bogdan Mandic. This water was used for drinking until the 80s of the 20th century, since when, because of the growing urbanization, it loses its primary role, retaining only the monumental significance.
The water of this spring was captured and regulated after the liberation of Herceg Novi from the Turks, during the time of the bishop Savatije Ljubibratic, to whom the Venetian authorities recognized the ecclesiastical authority over the Orthodox people in 1895. Today’s appearance is from the time of the Austro-Hungarian administration, because the spring was located next to the only vehicular road, which was passing through Topla, at that time considered as a rural place, to the city of Herceg Novi.
Concise description of Topla from the very beginning of the 20th century left us priest Savo Nakicenovic, writing: The village was covered mostly with olives, mulberries, cherries and oranges. The houses of this village are of broken type, scattered to-and-fro and in line only at someplace, alongside the main road.
The spring, which at that time, thanks to the position along the road, was very visited, gradually loses its significance during the 20th century, which, due to the spread of the graveyard of the nearby church of Holly Salvation, and also due to the growing urbanization of hinterland, nowadays it has completely lost its utilitarian character, but with the preservation of its memorial significance.
It is located near Mojdez, above the hamlet of Brajovici, 5-10 minutes’ walk by an attractive stone path. According to the locals, the spring has two “wheels”, because over the course of the century and a half it represented a line of demarcation between the Venetian, then the Austrian Boka and the Turkish hinterland. For both sides to have unimpeded access to this precious spring there were built two wheels!
It is located on the upper edge of the village Suscepan, on a marked path that connects it with the neighboring Ratisevina and Mokrin. The excellent view of the entrance to Boka and the wealth in springs, in some respects, conditioned the construction of the original Herceg Novi at this place.
In the village there is also the church of Sr. Stefan, which plateau also provides an excellent panoramic view.
Zelenac is reachable from the main bus station in 45 minutes by walking along the marked track. The last major works of Zelenac were carried out at the time of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, when two stone troughs were added to it so that more water could be collected from this, only during the rain, sufficiently strong spring. In spite of the small amount of water, the place was significant, because this was the main pedestrian communication that connected Herceg Novi with the interior.
Likewise, not the whole wonder of the spring contained in that precious liquid that comes out of the hidden depths of the earth. Springs are places to which people have given some special, surreal value. In the daytime the springs would serve for cattle to drink water and for people to refresh but at the same time they used to be sacred places, while at night fairies lorded over springs together with other mysterious creatures of folk tradition. Springs are therefore carefully guarded for hundreds of years, just as the “holy boskets” that most often surrounded them. Zelenac gives such an impression.
The spring and the rest point is located next to the former main road and military strategic communication that connected Herceg Novi with its interior. The present look dates from 1884 from the time of the Austro-Hungarian reconstruction.
Kotobill is a famous historical place where on 30th September 1687 was held the crucial battle for the liberation of Herceg-Novi from the Turkish authorities. On that occasion, the Montenegrins and the domestic insurgents from the ambush seriously defeated the Turkish army, which was going to help in the city besieged by The Venetians. The event was sung by the Montenegrin bishop, Petar II Petrovic Njegos, in his most famous work, the Mountain Wreath.
Nowadays, the rest point adorns the mural showing the Kotobilje battle, creating an interesting combination of a historical, epic event with an urban artistic style.
Kotobilje spring is reached in 10 minutes by car from the circular stream in Meljine, half an hour by bike, and 1 hour from Herceg Novi bus station.
It was named after a Turkish dignitary (dignitary – commander of the city or fortress) who built it, but today’s appearance is from the beginning of the 20th century when the Austro-Hungarian army captured and conducted water supply for the village of Kameno. The water supply is still in use today.
Dizdarica can be reached by the road from Meljin to Trebinje , with turning to the secondary road near Kameno village for village Uble.