Archaeological finds from Vranjaj Cave and from the Lustica Peninsula testify to the beginnings of civilization in this area as early as the Neolithic and early Bronze Age. Vranjaj Cave is today the oldest prehistoric archaeological site in the Herceg Novi area and reveals an area where the cultures of various prehistoric stages intertwine: from the Neolithic "impresso" culture, through the Aeneolithic Ljubljana-Dalmatia group, Bronze Age-Cetina, to late Hallstatt (Iron Age), whose most reliably determined representatives are the lllyrians. The remains of exceptionally valuable pottery from this site are stored in the Homeland Museum of Herceg Novi. By reconnoitring the Herceg Novi surrounding area and Lustica Peninsula the existence of numerous tumuli has been established, mogila-tumulus. The most recent discovery is a complex of four tumuli "Devojacke grede", above Herceg Novi, above the village of Podi, at the edge of the village of Kameno, 400 m above sea level, from where there is a magnificent view of the whole bay and the entrance to Boka Kotorska Bay. A local legend linked with this site tells about the meeting and conflict between wedding parties above "Oevojacke grede" and subsequent suicide of two young girls who jumped into the gorge near the tumulus itself.
In the 3rd century A.D., after the victory over the lllyrians, the Roman Empire took hold of this area. Although systematic archaeological research has not been carried out, plentiful material evidence testifies to the strong influence of Roman civilization on this area. Namely, there is a very strong indication of the existence of ancient settlements on various sites of the municipality of Herceg Novi. The marine research which cast light on a series of precious finds tell a special story about that; first of all the amphorae which date back to the period from the 4th century B.C. onwards. Following the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 this area was dominated by Byzantium. The Slavic tribes quite densely inhabited this area in the 7th century, at the time when the first state parishes emerged in the territory of the Byzantine Empire. In the beginning they were subject to the Byzantine Empire, but gradually acquired independence and political autonomy. The Parish of Dracevica was established in the territory of present-day Herceg Novi.
During the 10th century, Dracevica lost its independence, becoming the prey to the princes of Zeta, but not for too long, since the Nemanjic dynasty period was soon to follow. After the death of Emperor Dusan, for a short period of time, Dracevica was under the rule of Prince Vojislav Vojnovic, and then under the Balsici dynasty. In 1378, Dracevica was occupied by the Bosnian "ban", and king, Tvrtko I Kotromanic.
In 1382, Tvrtko I established a new town in Topla Bay which was supposed to compete with Dubrovnik in the salt trade, a significant source of wealth for the coastal states of those days. With the intention of developing it as an important commercial, naval and crafts centre, he called it Sveti Stefan (St. Stephen). As one of the youngest towns on the Adriatic coast, it was also called Novi (New), Castrum Novum, Castel Nuovo.
It got its present-day name at the time of the rule of Herceg Stjepan Vukcic Kosaca, when it experienced its greatest prosperity and development. There was a strong development of gunsmiths', goldsmiths', blacksmiths' and shoemakers' crafts. Important preserved examples of goldsmiths' skill stored in the treasury of Savina Monastery date back to that period. Herceg Stjepan was succeeded by his son Vlatko, but despite strong resistance he did not manage to resist the Turkish army which occupied Herceg Novi in 1482.
The Turks ruled the town for more than two centuries, until the year 1687. According to the testimony of Evlija Celebija, an author who wrote about his travels and who visited Herceg Novi in 1664, the town was a meeting place, a shelter and warehouse for foreign pirates, as well as a transit place for the slave trade. Turkish rule was temporarily interrupted in the period from 1538 to 1539, when the town was taken over by the Spanish who additionally enlarged the fortification above the town, which among the local population became known as "Espahola", although in most documents it is called "Gornji grad" (Upper town). After the Turks, Herceg Novi was occupied by the Venetians, who ruled until the fall of the Venetian Republic in 1797. From that moment on, there were frequent changes in foreign rule in Herceg Novi. TheAustrians ruled until 1806. After that, the Russians tookover until the year 1807, and then the French, who ruled until 1814.ln the period from 1813to 1814, the town was taken over by the temporary government of Montenegro and Boka Kotorska. From 1814 to 1918, the town was under Austro-Hungarian rule. Then came the unification of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes into one kingdom, and some time later into Yugoslavia, and in 1923 even the Boka Kotorska District was attached to it. Following the capitulation of Yugoslavia in 1941, the town was occupied by the Italians, then also the Germans, until the final liberation of the town on 28th October 1944.
In the Herceg Novi landscape, apart from numerous Mediterranean floras, there are about 250 species of different exotic plants brought by sailors from almost every continent. This gives Herceg Novi its specific features and attractiveness. Exotic species like mimosa, agave, cycas, camellia, magnolia, eucalyptus, Bougainvillea, aucuba, araucaria have very successfully acclimatised to our region making a unique ornament with autochthonous vegetation. The Herceg Novi Riviera landscape is made authentic by numerous maquis dominated by arbutus shrubs, Spanish broom shrubs, occasional groups of Italian stone pines, carob trees and coastal pines, as well as cultivated areas under olive and fig trees.
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