It can be a dangerous business founding a new settlement, especially when that settlement is Budva, Montenegro and you have a few skeletons in your closet.
Budva is one of the oldest settlements on the Montenegrin coast, a beautiful fortress-like warren of twisting alleyways, steep stone staircases, and red tiled roofs.
According to legend, Budva was established by Kadmo (Cadmus), son of the Phoenician king Agenor, ruler of the Illyrians. Exiled from Thebes, Kadmo and his wife Harmonija set out to find the Enhealeans – the eel people – and arrived in the region on a team of oxen. Their mode of transport – bous in Greek – formed the basis for the name of the new settlement: Budva.
What happened next is a bid of a muddle, with differing legends.
In one a murder committed in Kadmo’s youth finally catches up with him, and Zeus makes him pay for it by turning both Kadmo and Harmonija into blue-spotted snakes.
In another, Kadmo is cursed by the gods while at sea with his wife and turned into a dragon. To keep themselves from drowning, the pair turn into fishes, each holding the other by the tail to stay together forever. Awww. 🙂
Their fellow Budva residents suffered neither fate, and continued building the settlement into a thriving port city with vineyards and olive groves.
Unfortunately Budva also became a target for conquerors that ravaged and impoverished the tiny region. First the Greeks then the Romans followed by the Slavs, French, Venetians and finally the Austro-Hungarians.
Big changes were in store with the arrival of World War I, and I’ll tell you all about that next time. 🙂