Once upon a time, almost 2000 years ago, just 3 miles away from what’s today known as Podgorica, the capital of Montenegro, ancient Illyrians established the city of Doclea (Duklja). Today it is an archaeological site, but also one of the most significant historical monuments in the whole country. Podgorica has a pretty diverse tourist offer, but if you’re a fan of history and culture, you should definitely visit this outdoor museum.
History of Doclea
The ancient Roman city of Doclea has first been mentioned in 69th year AD. It was a big city for the standards of that era. Almost 40,000 people enhabited Doclea. In the third century AD, Doclea became the capital of Praevalitana, a late Roman province.
According to records from that time, Doclea was a pretty sophisticated city. It had a proper sewerage system, water supplies, and street layout. The city walls were strong and well-equipped for defensive purposes. The main city square, forum, was located at the intersection of two main streets, and it was decorated by divine temples and basilicas.
After the 4th century AD, the significance of Doclea started to decline, and the city suffered devastation by the Goths in 489 AD. Not long after that, Doclea was the victim of a strong earthquake, and after Slavs conquested the area in 620 AD, Doclea remained in a ruined state.
Today, Doclea is a significant archaeological site. Archaeological excavations discovered many relics dating thousands of years back from now. Those include the remains of the ancient temples, sarcophagi, and artistically carved objects.
How to get there?
The position of Doclea makes it accessible in more than one way. As I previously mentioned, the city is located just about 3 miles from Podgorica, which makes it all but remote.
The fastest and most comfortable way to get there is by car. If you’re traveling by your own car, or maybe renting one, you can easily get to Doclea with the help of a GPS device. Otherwise, you can get a taxi which will cost you less than 3 euros in one direction. Montenegro is known for quite affordable taxi fees. Many citizens prefer taxi to public transport, because of these fees.
Another way to get to Doclea is by bike. Many tourists opt for this method because it’s fast, recreational, and healthy. You can rent a bike in Podgorica for 5 euros per hour, or for 20 euros per day. Finally, you can get there on foot. The Tourist Organization of Podgorica is sometimes organizing walking tours to Doclea. During a tour like this, you will have the opportunity to meet new people and see some amazing landscapes along the way. You can enter Doclea free of charge every day from 8 AM to 4 PM. All you need to do is to open the city gate if it isn’t open already, and you can freely roam around the place and do whatever you like.
Teleportation to the ancient times
We are finally in the city. We’re at the place which was once a significant unit of the famous Roman Empire. All around us we can see the remains of Doclea. We can see and feel pristine pieces of art our predecessors built almost two millenniums ago. Inside the city walls which are mostly crashed, we can wander around and observe the remains of magnificent temples, basilicas, sarcophagi, palaces, and Roman baths.
Historical and cultural monuments we can find here can catapult our minds in some other time when there was no electricity, cars, machines, and the internet. We can imagine our ancestors building these amazing structures with nothing but bare hands. We can once again feel the thriving nature of the human species which I bet all of us find pretty fascinating.
All around the city, there are small panels. The panels are filled with explanations and maps of various urban sites. Reading the panels can help us understand the intelligent logic which stood behind ancient projects, and we can educate ourselves while traveling and enjoying a sunny day in Podgorica.
In the 9th century AD, Slavic inhabitants of this area founded a country which was named Doclea, after the ancient city.
Founding the country of Doclea marks the very first moment in the history of independent Montenegro. Doclea was renamed to Zeta and subsequently, to Montenegro.
1077 AD – This is the year in which Doclea received the status of the kingdom.
Today, right next to the remains of Doclea there is a railway. When you catch the sight of the train passing by, it makes a quite authentic contrast.
According to some historical sources, the famous Roman emperor Diocletian was born in the city of Doclea. Fancy that.
The conclusion is pretty straight-forward. If you’re into history and daily excursions, and you’re in Podgorica, visit this beautiful place. You won’t regret it because even if you don’t find yourself fascinated(which really shouldn’t be the case if you’re into this kind of stuff), you won’t lose much time and money on the visit.
Check out the gallery below for some interesting photos from Doclea.