Berane, formerly Ivangrad, is a town in eastern Montenegro. It has a population of 11,776 (2003 census). Berane is the center of municipality (population of 35,068) and one of the centers of Polimlje area, named after the Lim River, on which Berane is situated.
History of Berane
During the medieval period the Montenegrin land of Berane was known as Budimlja. It was of great holistic, political, and economic importance in the Serbian state of Raška. Saint Sava, the first Serbian archbishop, founded here one of the first Serbian episcopates in 1219. The Monastery Đurđevi Stupovi was built by the end of 12th century by Prvoslav, the son of Nemanja’s brother Tihomir. Many monasteries and churches tell the story on the rich holistic life of Serbs in this area. There were seven bishops and nine metropolitans. Literary and painting schools existed in this Monastery. Apart from Đurđevi Stupovi, the second most important monastery in this area was Sudikovo, which was destroyed and burned by the Turks in 1738. Archbishop’s throne was vacant for more than 350 years. However, the Budimlja episcopate, known as the Budimlja-Nikšić eparchy has been restored in 2002 upon the appointment of bishop Joanikije. The area of Berane municipality and its wider neighborhood, was part of the Medieval Serbian state until 1455, when Turks took the city of Bihor and Budimlja. This valley was populated with Serbians until mid of 17th century, when it went under terrible suffering and many of them left. The Turks distributed the land to the islamized population.
During the First Serbian Uprising (1804) and Karađorđe’s (Leader of the uprising in Serbia) marched to Novi Pazar, Sanjak, and the people of this area rebelled and met the Serbian dukes Anto Bogićević and Hadži-Prodan Gligorijević. Then, Mojsije Zečević, prior of Đurđevi Stupovi Monastery, had the leading role among Orthodox people of Budimlja. He was one of the closest allies of Petar I (Cetinjski) and Petar II Petrović-Njegoš, archbishops and political leaders of Montenegro. Since the First Serbian Uprising until its final liberation, fights against Turks were constant, especially during the second part of the 19th century. Famous battles occurred from 1825, until 1862, but the most important one was Rudes battle on 7 April 1862, in which the Serbian and Montenegrin rebels won. Berane was finally liberated from Turks in 1912. During the second World War, there was a terrible civil war, between Partisans (communists) and Chetniks (nationalists). During the communists’ reprisals in 1944 and 1945 around 4,000 people were killed. From July 1949 to March 1992, Berane was known as Ivangrad as a tribute to Ivan Milutinović. In 1992, its original name was restored.
Culture of Berane
The main impact for the development of culture of this area historically, and up to recent times, came from the Serb Orthodox Church, or it monasteries in the area: Šudikova, Đurdjevi Stupovi and other, as the cornerstones of spirituality of the Serb population, as previousli mentioned. That part is later to a certain extent taken over by schools, and, more and more institutions dealing with culture. A special role in that process was that of the Berane Gymnasium, founded in 1913.
Its classrooms were a home to many prominent artist and scientists in various disciplines. Lets just mention great writers: Mihailo Lalić, Dušan Kostić, Radovan Zogović, or, for example, painters: Jovan Zonjić and Mišo Popović. The institutions in Berane that are still working in culture, there are: Cultural Centre (with the library), and Polimski Museum, with a very rich collection of valuable artefacts; and the House of the Duke Gavro Vuković the first jurist with a university degree, a long term Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Princehood of Montenegro, and the writerof famous “Memoirs”has been reconstructed, planned to be used for cultural events. Berane also has a school for primary musical education, and there are also few amateur clubs and societies in various disciplines of artistic creation.
Economy of Berane
The municipality of Berane is one of the poorest in the Republic of Montenegro. The level of industrial production is very low, since a big number of companies have stopped working in the past 15 years due to the known crisis in former Yugoslavia. In the earlier period (60’s and 70’s) many village, agricultural households have moved to the town in the process of “industrialization” which decreased agricultural production, and industry later collapsed so most of the population lives in difficult conditions. Many small private companies have been started recently, mostly in the areas of commerce and catering industry. There is a very small number of companies that are creating new value. Workers in those new companies nave no insurance or health service, so those companies do not have a bigger positive impact on the community. Total number of employed in the municipality is cca 3,000.
Transport to Berane
Berane is connected with rest of Montenegro by two-laned motorways. Bijelo Polje is 35 km away, where there lies the major junction (railway and the road) towards Podgorica and the coast, and to Serbia. Serbia can also be reached eastwards via Rožaje (for Novi Pazar.) Berane is on the corridor of the future Beograd – Bar motorway. Berane has an airport (Berane Airport), which hasn’t been used for a while, but there are plans for its revitalization and usage as regional airport. Podgorica Airport is some 150 km (93 mi) away, and has regular flights to and from major European destinations.