by Discover Montenegro
Lake Plav and the city of Plav.

Plav is a town in north-eastern Montenegro. It has a population of 3,615 inhabitants. Plav is the center of the municipality with a population of 13,805.

Plav is located at the foot of the Prokletije mountain range, adjacent to the springs of the river Lim. It is considered to have derived its name from old Catholic Albanian surname. The name Plav (Плав) is derived from Slavic plav, “a flooded place” (poplava, “flood”). Plav is surrounded by beautiful and wildly varying mountainous scenery. The area abounds in lakes and the most known is lake Plav, one of the largest and most beautiful in this region. The lakes Hrid and Visitor are mountain lakes, and Visitor is noted for its floating island. Plav is also renowned for its karsts wells, among which are Ali Pasha and Oko Skakavica.

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The toponym Hotina Gora (mountains of Hoti) in the Plav and Gusinje regions on the Lim river basin in 1330 is the first mention of the Hoti name in historical records in the chrysobulls of Dečani. Šufflay considers this region as the original area of settlement of Hoti from which they moved southwards. The Ottoman census organised in 1582-83 registered the Plav nahiyah within the Sanjak of Scutari with 18 villages; according to historian Milan Vasić all inhabitants had personal names with a Slavic character, and no Muslim name was present.

According to a 16th-century travel record by Antonio Bruni, the inhabitants of the Plav region are partly Albanian and partly Serbian, with a large proportion belonging to historical Albanian and Montenegrin tribes such as the Piperi, Kuči, Kelmendi, and Bjelopavlići.

After the Serbian-Venetian nobleman Mariano Bolizza in Cattaro (Kotor), who wrote the Relazione e descrizione del sangiacato di Scutari (“Relations and Description of the Sanjak of Scutari”) in 1614 Plav was mostly inhabited by Albanians under the command of Sem Zaus (Cem Çaushi) of Podgorica.

The two strongest feudal families in the Plav-Gusinje region (~90 km to the northeast of Gruemirë) trace their origin to Gruemiri. The Rexhepagaj of Plav, Montenegro (now, Redžepagić-Rexhepagiqi) moved to Plav in the beginning of the 1650s where their ancestor took the Muslim name Veli when he converted. Rexhep Aga who gave the name to the family was a great-great-grandson of Veli. The Shabanagaj (now also known as Šabanagić) were related via marriage with the Bushati family of Shkodra. Shaban Aga, their eponymous ancestor was the son-in-law of Sulejman Pasha Bushati, sanjakbey of Shkodra. He was sent in Gusinje as the commander of the fortress around 1690. The Shabanagaj family owned large estates in Berane. Ali Pasha of Gusinje, commander of the League of Prizren was a Shabanagaj and Jashar Rexhepagiq, pedagogue in Kosovo, was a Rexhepagaj. Many other families in Plav also trace their origin to different historical tribes who migrated to the area. The Ferri (Ferović), Kërcaj (Krcić), Kuçi (Kuč), Medunaj (Medunanjin), Shabaj (Šabović), Toskaj (Toskić) descend from Kuči/Kuçi; the Canaj (Canović), Musajt (Musič), Rekaj (Reković), Mekuli (Mekulović) and Rugova (Rugovac) descend from Kelmendi; the Shahmanaj (Šahmanović) from Triesh; the Begani (Beganović), Kasumi (Kasumović), Shalunaj (Šaljunović) from Shala; Basha (Bašič) and Hoxhaj (Hodžić) from Berisha; the Kastrat and Hot families from Kastrati and Hoti respectively.

In 1878, following the Treaty of Berlin, the city of Plav was ceded to Montenegro by the Ottoman Empire despite being considered by Albanian leaders as Albanian territory. Soon after however, armed resistance by the forces of the League of Prizren and their victory against Montenegrin troops at Battle of Novšiće (1879) prevented the implementation. Ottomans had to cede Ulcinj to Montenegro after pressure from the Great Powers in 1881. Plav onlybecame part of Montenegro after the First Balkan War in 1912.

The entry of the Montenegrin army in 1912-13 and the Yugoslav army after 1919 in Plav-Gusinje was accompanied by repressive policies against the local population. The Montenegrin army captured the region and entered Plav on 19 October and 20 October. Its entry was followed by a period of harsh military administration which until March 1913 had caused up to more than 1,800 killings of mostly local Muslim Albanians and 12,000 forced conversions to Christian Orthodoxy.

In 1919, an Albanian revolt, which later came to be known as the Plav rebellion rose up in the Plav, Gusinje and Rozaje districts, fighting against the inclusion of Sandzak in the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. As a result, during the Serbian army’s second occupation of Plav, which took place in 1919, Serb forces attacked Albanian populations in Plav and Gusinje, which had appealed to the British government for protection. About 450 local civilians were killed after the uprising was quelled. These events resulted in a large influx of Albanians migrating to Albania.


Plav is almost entirely Muslim and either Slavic-speaking or Albanian-speaking. The Slavic dialect of Gusinje and Plav shows very high structural influence from Albanian. Its uniqueness in terms of language contact between Albanian and Slavic is explained by the fact that most Slavic-speakers in today’s Gusinje are of Albanian origin, representing a case of an Albanian-speaking population shifting to a Slavic-speaking one. The dialect of Albanian that Plav speaks is northwestern Gheg at the west of Plav, and northeastern Gheg at the east of Plav.


Lake Plav and the city of Plav.

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