Lovcen National Park: Where Mausoleum Njegos Overlooks A Craggy Landscape

The Lovcen National Park attracts visitors to its elevated Mausoleum Njegos to honour the memory of one of Montenegro’s most important leaders, Petar II Petrovic-Njegos. The location of the Mausoleum Njegos provides expansive panoramic views over Lovcen National Park and its beautiful and intriguing landscape.

Main Themes
  • Lovcen National Park
  • The Mausoleum Njegos
  • The Craggy Karst Landscape

Lovcen National Park is located just 13 kilometres from Cetinje and as referred to in a previous post, is also situated above the city of Kotor. The park shares its name with Mount Lovcen by courtesy of the elevation of its two formidable peaks, Stirovnik (1,749 metres) and Jezerski (1,657 metres), makes it the highest mountain in Montenegro. The lookout atop Jezerski where the Mausoleum Njegos is located provides a 360 degree panorama of the Lovcen National Park. 

The major natural feature within the 62 square kilometres area of Lovcen National Park is its rugged, craggy, landscape which is a karst broken intermittently by dense forests of beech, oak and linden trees. During the warmer months scattered wild flowers in thin soils on hilly spaces compete for nutrition, while in lower depressions grasses abound providing heavenly softness underfoot.   

Image shows the two peaks that make up Mount Lovcen
The two peaks of Mount Lovcen, Stirovnik (L) and Jezerski (R)

The Mausoleum Njegos in the Lovcen National Park

The Mausoleum Njegos at elevation atop Jezerski in the Lovcen National Park
The Mausoleum Njegos at Lovcen National Park

The Mausoleum Njegos was constructed on the top of Jezerski in 1971 to honour Petar II Petrovic-Njegos. It is the second most elevated mausoleum in the world. Petar II Petrovic-Njegos is revered in Montenegro for his contributions as a poet, philosopher, prince-bishop and statesman. His family occupied the Billiard Palace in Cetinje.

The Mausoleum Njegos
When you arrive at the mausoleum you will see a small car park at the base of the mausoleum leading to its entrance and 461 steps.

Lovcen National Park is easily accessible from Cetinje by car and when you arrive at the mausoleum you will see a small car park at the base of the mausoleum which leads to its entrance and 461 steps.

Buckle up the backpacks, fill the water bottles, collect some food and set off. Whereas 461 steps doesn’t sound nearly as intimidating as the 1364 steps that you may have climbed up to the fortress at Kotor, the structure of the steps is different and some visitors find the ascent just as challenging.

The views from the mausoleum are spectacular and the panorama reaches well beyond Cetinje and easily takes in Skadar Lake National Park.

Spectacular views from the Mausoleum Njegos at Mt Lovcen across Cetinje to Skadar Lake
View of Lovcen National Park towards Cetinje from Mausoleum Njegos

It is easy to linger at the height of the mausoleum. If you pack a snack you can happily munch away on sandwiches and slurp coffee as you stare around mindlessly, content to soak up the view and allow your other senses to indulge in what is on offer.

The Drive Through Lovcen National Park up to the Mausoleum Njegos

The ever ascending drive up to Jezerski through the fresh natural environment of the Lovcen National Park passes through forests, their limits contrasting against the vast fields of whitish rock.

Road up to Mt Lovcen cuts through craggy but forested landscape
Ascent to Mausoleum Njegos through the Lovcen National Park

During the ascent through the Lovcen National Park there is a variety of spring flowers growing in an inhospitable environment doing their best to decorate an unyielding host.

The Lovcen National Park Visitors Centre is available to provide information about available hikes through the park.

The Craggy Karst Landscape of Lovcen National Park

As you drive slowly down from the mountain, relieved of the attention and focus given to the mausoleum and its panoramic gifts, spare some time to focus on your immediate surroundings. Stop the car and get out. Enjoy the lovely forests that are sprinkled throughout the park. The air is clean and the odour of the forests invigorating.

Secondly, all the white rock you can see is limestone and dolomite. Surely this craggy landscape is a karst, a region where carbonate rocks have surrendered to dissolution by acidic water. And the shape of the valleys, including the valley between Stirovnik and Jezerski Vrh? And the structure of the limestone? And the sometimes smoothed appearance of the landscape? Is it the result of glaciation?

Here is an unexpected reward for visiting the Lovcen National Park – a spectacle that adds to the visit of the mausoleum. So fill the water bottles again, on go the backpacks and set off hiking through the National Park and look for evidence. Finding it will be so satisfying. What to look for? Across the karst you will find scratches and grooves in the limestone indicating the direction the detritus was carried by the ice as it crept across this region of Montenegro. You may also find areas where the limestone appears to have been polished by smaller aggregate which was transported across it. And perhaps the limestone you are now walking over was once part of the sea floor!

Could the lack of V-shaped valleys, the absence of surface water, and the wearing smooth of the valley walls be indicative of glaciation? And perhaps the shape of the valley floor between the peaks of Mount Lovcen suggests that it had been raised by glacial deposits? But finding the field evidence will be fun! It’s great when you have a day when things go well; when enjoyable, unexpected things happen. Such will be today. Just a great day out in the open.

As you continue your search across the Park for evidence of glaciation you will also observe some minor depressions. These could be natural sinks formed by karst processes, the dissolution of the limestone near the surface.

The Dinaric Alps is the limestone spine that runs the length of the Balkans, appearing as far south as Greece as the Pindus Range. The mountains are the result of thrust faulting and folding, and Mt Lovcen lies within the range.

The carbonate rocks of the karst zone in which the Lovcen National Park is located have been heavily fractured by tectonic events. This is very apparent when you look at the images. These events included processes familiar to most of us, folding and faulting, as well as overthrusting. The glacial period across the Balkans had a significant impact on the landscape of Montenegro. The Montenegrin mountains were the most ice-eroded, resulting in all the evidence of karst and glaciation that can be happily tracked through the Lovcen National Park.

Final Thoughts on Lovcen National Park

The mausoleum on Mt Lovcen is worth visiting, particularly if extra time is taken to enjoy the beauty of Lovcen National Park, including its craggy karst and forests. The National Park is a safe, family friendly venue but seek advice about safe trails for hiking. Entry into the National Park is not expensive, nor is the fee into the mausoleum. Parking is available throughout the National Park but parking at the mausoleum can be difficult to obtain on popular days. You may have to park down the road a bit. A visit to Mt Lovcen can be a one day excursion around the area by car or as a hike that originates in Kotor.