The Stone Bridge and the Monument to Heroes of the Battle of Mojkovac

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The Stone Bridge and the Monument to Heroes of the Battle of Mojkovac
Nowadays best known for an international high-diving competition and as the start of the Northern Challenge Adventure Race, the stone bridge over the River Tara has had a rich and interesting history.

Followed by great fanfare and an opening ceremony attended even by the Archbishop of Cetinje, the Ban of Zeta, the Minister of Transport and many officials of the Zeta Banovina and the regional government of that time, as well as many onlookers, it started to be used on 21 September 1934. Its construction took two years and the Bank of Zeta gave about 1,300,000 dinars for that purpose. It is said that the bridge was built by Dalmatians “beacause they were the only ones who knew how to work with stone”, and some of these workers also fell in love with the beautiful women of Mojkovac and settled in the town.

Being strategically important for both sides, the bridge was knocked down during World War II. During their retreat in 1944, German troops planned to attack Mojkovac and occupy the stone bridge in order to provide a crossing for their troops. The partisans anticipated them and knocked down the bridge, taking advantage of the December fog. Using dinghies, the Germans crossed the River Tara and built a temporary wooden bridge to cross over in the close proximity of the stone bridge. After crossing the river they knocked down the bridge behind them, and thus the connection between Mojkovac and Kolašin was cut. After the liberation of the country, a wooden bridge was built, but the waters of the River Tara soon took it away. It was not until 1950 that the old stone bridge was reconstructed.

Despite being only some fifty years old, the monument dedicated to the heroes of the Battle of Mojkovac became a symbol of the town. Situated on the right bank of the River Tara close to the stone bridge, the monument, the work of sculptor Drago Đurović and architect Mirko Đukić, was erected in 1966, on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary celebrations of the famous Battle of Mojkovac. Although it was not decisive to the final result, this battle was in World War I and in the whole history of Montenegro. In 1916, on (Orthodox) Christmas Day, the Montenegrin Army, under the command of Serdar Janko Vukotić, and with enormous casualties, defeated the more powerful and vastly superior Austro-Hungarian Army. The heroes of Mojkovac became the symbol of suffering and heroism, and another confirmation of traditional Montenegrin courage and heroism. It is best described by the words of Colonel Reiner of the Austro-Hungarian Army: “The courage of the Montenegrin soldier has no equal in the history of wars. Here you could see the Montenegrin soldier attacking the bayonets of the enemy with his bare hands. That numerically small army, armed with primitive weapons, on the terrain of Mojkovac for days stopped the much more numerous Austro- Hungarian Army, equipped with modern arms.”

In memory of the heroes of the Battle of Mojkovac, the Orthodox Cathedral of the Nativity of Christ was also erected. The cathedral was dedicated in 2008, on Christmas Day morning, the same day on which 92 years ago bitter battles for the freedom of the whole country had been fought, one of the most important battles in World War I and in the whole history of Montenegro.

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