Godinje, an authentic Montenegrin village, is located on a hill overlooking the Skadar Lake. The lake is the biggest lake on the Balkan Peninsula and it is shared by 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. The village is considered by many an exemplary village of rural architecture, often visited and studied by architects and archi-enthusiasts.
As a result of its remote location, the village is quiet, which is great for those who want to have a relaxing day-trip and have an authentic Montenegrin experience.
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. This was a truly ingenious invention that helped residents survive tens of sieges throughout the long history of the village.
Nearly every house in the village has a front porch where Godinje residents used to sit and rest after a long day. These porches, called “volats”, were 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 the young and the old would meet and participate in these festivities. One can only imagine the atmosphere when the Montenegrin national dance (known as “kolo”) accompanied by traditional local songs took over this central stage of this small village.