Godinje is an authentic village in Montenegro, located on a hill overlooking the Skadar Lake. The lake is biggest in the Balkan peninnsula and is a borderline between Montenegro and Albania. Godinje is part of the Crmnička nahija (historical region in this part of Montenegro).
What makes Godinje special is the beautiful rural architecture, authentic alleys and passages. There are nearly one hundred stone houses set above a picturesque valley. Godinje is considered by many as an example of rural architecture, often visited and studied by architects and archi enthusiasts.
Its remote location makes it quiet and not loaded with tourists, which is great for those who want to have a relaxing day-trip and experience rural tourism in addition to the (more crowded) nearby Adriatic coast.
In order to defend themselves from attacks of the Ottoman Empire, generations of inhabitants of Godinje built their houses “one against the other” and developed a special system of underground passages that run through the entire village. Interestingly, each house has the manger on the ground floor, a place where the animals were kept. The mangers (known as “konoba” in Montenegrin) had secret passages which enabled locals to move from one house to another and escape eventual attacks or raids by the Ottomans.
It was possible to go as far as the last house in the village, a truly ingenious invention that helped residents to survive tens of sieges throughout the long history of the village.
Nearly every house in the village has a front porch where the citizens of Godinje could sit and rest after the long day. These porches, called “volats”, are unique because they were included in the construction of the homes many decades before a similar feature was developed in some other cultures, including in the Victorian architecture in the UK.
The cultural life in many rural areas of Montenegro was centered around the ‘gumno’ – a large circle at the lower end of the village. This is the place where local dances (nowadays part of ‘folklore’) and other celebrations where held. Both young and old people would meet and participate in these festivities and one can only imagine the atmosphere when the Montenegrin national dance (kolo) accompanied by traditional local songs took over this central stage of this sleepy village.
The people grew their own food; hunting and fishing in nearby streams and woodlands was very important part of their life.
Nowadays, the main occupation in the area surrounding Godinje is producing grapes and wine. This whole area is famous for the production of quality wine and grape brandy and wine routes have been developed to make it easier for wine lovers to find all the local wineries and family producers.
Our tip: Definately don’t leave this region without a few bottles of good local wine from small, family-owned wineries!