CULTURAL ROUTE

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The Homeland Museum, the guardian of a priceless treasury of the traditional culture of Bijelo Polje, founded in 1957, does not let the past pass it by. The history of this construction is very interesting. It was built in 1905 for the needs of the ruždija – the secular secondary school in which geography, history, logic, rhetoric, physics, natural history, mathematics and geometry were studied. The ruždija has existed in Bijelo Polje since as early as 1871, and it is known that in the school year of 1900/01 it had 26 students and 2 teachers. After the liberation of Bijelo Polje from Turkish rule in 1912, at the decree of King Aleksandar, the lower middle school was established in the building in 1926. Sharing the fate of similar constructions during World War II, it was transformed into an army barracks in which the garrison of the Italian Army was accommodated. In the postwar period it also served as a kindergarden, until the Homeland Museum was founded within its premises.

The treasury of the Homeland Museum will reveal to you how the region of Bijelo Polje has been developed since as early as the first ancient settlements of the Roman municipium, then later as a developed mediaeval caravan settlement and the seat of the Bishopric of Hum, to Akovo – the fortified centre of Turkish rule – and further on until the present day. Get to know the wealth and significance of the numerous museum collections.

Its rich ethnologic collection will provide you with the opportunity to see what the interior of a town house of Bijelo Polje looked like, as well as numerous objects from everyday life: jewellery, national costumes, a mangal (a Turkish barbecue), hookahs and old seals. Some of these lost their function a long time ago, whereas the others are still in use today. Thus, snowshoes, similar to those which are kept in the Homeland Museum even now are used for walking through deep snow. Although these are easy to make – they are made of ash or walnut wood and barbecue), hookahs and old seals. Some of these lost their function a long time ago, whereas the others are still in use today. Thus, snowshoes, similar to those which are kept in the Homeland Museum even now are used for walking through deep snow. Although these are easy to make – they are made of ash or walnut wood and string – walking in them is quite a skill. One’s feet must be wide apart (at least half a metre), and in order to avoid tripping it is necessary to make wider steps with each foot since if the snowshoes overlap while walking, falling over is inevitable. It is said that during the famous Battle of Mojkovac snowshoes themselves were the only “technical” advantage that the Montenegrin soldiers had over the Austro-Hungarian Army equipped with modern arms and gear. It enabled them to move faster over the snowdrifts which in that January of 1916 reached up to two metres. One of the most precious exhibits of the numismatic collection is an example of mediaeval silver coins of Denarii grossi de Brescoa. This money, which even Dante mentions in his Divine Comedy, was the first silver coinage in this region, and it was minted in Brskovo near today’s town of Mojkovac. The Homeland Museum also keeps a part of the legacy of the best-known painter family of Bijelo Polje – the Lazovićes. Three generations of painters, the founder – priest Simeon, his son Aleksije and grandson Lazar, were the most sought-after icon painters in the second half of the 18th and the first half of the 19th centuries, leaving behind them one of the greatest icon-painting legacies in the area stretching from Kosovo and Šumadija, over central Bosnia, Herzegovina, to the north of Montenegro and the Montenegrin coast.

How weapons were developed and improved in this region can be seen through the significant collection of personal arms which along with photographs and written documents testifies to the tumultuous history and frequent conflicts and wars which marked not only the history of the region of Bijelo Polje, but also Montenegro in general. Lamps, hammers, chisels, shovels, caps made of woollen fabrics, three-legged tables and chairs are just a part of the tools which were used by the skilful Saxon miners as early as the Middle Ages in their search for the gold-bearing silver of the Brskovo mine. In the 13th century the Saxons were introduced by King Uroš I Nemanjić, thus transforming Brskovo into one of the most significant mining and trading centres of that time.

 
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