System of conservation of cultural and natural heritage

  • Organization of the institutional system of conservation
  • Legislation

Organization of the system of conservation

Conservation service was officially established in 1948 when the Institute for Conservation of Cultural Monuments and Rarities in Cetinje (today Republic Institute for Protection of Cultural Monuments) was established. The first modern law in this field was proclaimed in 1949. Today, generic currently valid Law for conservation of cultural monuments from 1991 regulates work of the service.

Based on the UNESCO Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (1972), here and after inscription of Kotor area on the World Heritage List (1979), the Municipal Institute for Conservation of Cultural Monuments of Kotor was founded (1980). Due to the high concentration and importance of monuments on territory of Boka Kotorska bay, in 1992 this Institution became the Regional Institute for Conservation of Cultural Monuments Kotor.

Due to historical circumstances, immovable cultural monuments are unequally distributed on the territory of Montenegro. The largest number of cultural monuments is concentrated in municipalities of Kotor (31 %) and Cetinje (15 %). On the territory of Boka Kotorska Bay, there are 44.60 of all immovable cultural monuments in Montenegro.

Regional Institute for Conservation of Cultural Monuments Kotor is responsible for conservation of monuments on the territory of Boka Kotorska bay, which consists of the area of the municipalities Kotor (with the World Heritage site of Kotor), Tivat and Herceg Novi. The Republic Institute for Conservation of Cultural Monuments in Cetinje is responsible for conservation of monuments on the rest of the territory of the Republic of Montenegro and carries out the conservation policy in the Republic.

Republic Institute for Environment Protection, founded in 1961 and Museum of Nature of Montenegro, founded in 1995, are dealing with protection of natural heritage in Montenegro.

Beside above-mentioned Institutes directly responsible for conservation of movable and immovable heritage, there are specialized institutions dealing with museum, archive and library activities. 

The supreme body is the Ministry of Culture, which directs, manages and coordinates work of the whole system of conservation of cultural and environmental heritage.

The Law about Local government from 2003 states that municipality “creates and provides conditions for protection of monuments and monumental areas of local importance”.

The Law about Conservation of cultural monuments from 1991, states that a municipality has obligation to “take a good care of monuments on its territory, to maintain, use and protect them from destructive influences of nature and human acting, to make them available to the public and to provide funding for their regular maintenance”. During the development of urban plans, for the purpose of preservation of urban, historical or ambient character of old towns and settlements, municipality is obliged to provide a professional opinion of the Republic Institute for Conservation of Cultural Monuments. The Law states that it is necessary to provide license for any construction works on a monument, which can cause its changes. The licence can be issued by the Republic Institute” or the Regional Institute.  (Article 83; par. 5; Law for Conservation of Cultural Monuments of Republic of Montenegro).

Municipalities take care for cultural and environmental heritage through the Departments for urban and construction affairs, cultural activities and activities related to environment protection. Secretariat for cultural and natural heritage exists only in the Municipality of Kotor.

The following scheme shows the organizational structure of the conservation system. The following text explains in details its jurisdiction, work, financing and activities. Please note that this plan relates only to Governmental institutions, yet, there are numerous institutions such as museums, galleries etc. which run by the local municipal government.

Organization scheme

Organization scheme of institutional system of conservation of cultural and environmental heritage in Montenegro


The modern practice of treatment and care for the cultural heritage was established in the second half of XIX century, with the following legal acts:
- 1868. – National Parliament of Principality of Montenegro proclaimed Financial Reform which is considered to be the first legal act in Montenegro partially related to the conservation of cultural heritage, 
- 1896 – the Law about the Library and Museum of the Principality of Montenegro was proclaimed, 
- 1945 – The Law about the protection of cultural monuments and natural rarities was proclaimed,
- 1949 – The Law about the protection of cultural monuments was proclaimed.

Acts that currently follow organisation and work of the cultural institutions were mostly proclaimed during the 1990es; most of them were not changed since 1980es, while the law still not adequately regulates some activities (ex. underwater archaeology). Currently, the following legal acts statutory protect cultural heritage in Montenegro:
- Law about the conservation of cultural monuments (1991),
- Law about the museum activities (1977, 1989),
- Law about the library activities (1977, 1989),
- Law about archive activities (1991, 1994),
- Law about rehabilitation and revitalization of old towns damaged in the disastrous earthquake on April 15, 1979 (1984, 1986),
- Law about rehabilitation of the monumental area of Kotor (1991),
- Law about monuments, memorials and historic events and persons (1971, 1972, 1988),
- Rule about keeping the Inventory of protected cultural monuments (1992),
- Rule about conditions and work on the archaeological research and excavation of cultural monuments (1992),

Law about the conservation of cultural monuments (1991) regulates the work of the conservation service, on all levels, as well as jurisdiction, organization, financing, activities and process of registration of cultural monuments. This Law “regulates the system of conservation and usage of cultural monuments, realization of the special social interest, rights and obligations of legal and physical subjects related to the conservation of cultural monuments and organizing and income generating for financing of institutions performing activities of conservation of cultural monuments.” (Law about the conservation of cultural monuments, article 1.)

New Law about the protection of cultural heritage is in the process of development. This law should correct lacks of the current law, such as the process of proclamation of cultural monuments, adequate sanctioning of violations, care and value of other categories beside cultural monuments (cultural landscape, vernacular architecture, modern architecture, industrial architecture, intangible heritage), process of financing and other issues.  

Conservation of cultural monuments is done indirectly through provisions of the Law on planning and spatial management, Low on construction, Law on National parks, Law on costal management, Law on local self-governance, etc. Movable cultural heritage is protected by adequate museum, archive, etc. laws.

Data taken from:

  • Conservation of Cultural and Natural Heritage in Montenegro, scoping study, British Council – Serbia and Montenegro, 2004.
  • Sector Studies – Analysis and expert opinion (SS-AE) done for the purpose of drawing up the National Spatial Plan (PPR), Sector study (SS-AE) 4.11 – CULTURAL HERITAGE, University of Montenegro, Republic Institute for Urbanism and Planning,  2005.

view our gallery2

Supported by:




The South East European (SEE) Heritage network Secretariat
P.O. Box 85
85330 Kotor - Montenegro
phone: + 382 (0)32 302520
fax: + 382 (0)32 302521

The material displayed on the separate country pages has been prepared by:
Albanian Heritage Foundation
Bosnia and Herzegovina: CHwB Regional Office in Sarajevo
Kosovo: EC MA Ndryshe
Montenegro: EXPEDITIO and Notar
Serbia: Civic Association SUBURBIUM

Articles View Hits

Place I Like

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
Prev Next

Mariovo – Daniel Medaroski

16-08-2021 Hits:2934 A Place I Like Secretary - avatar Secretary

Mariovo – Daniel Medaroski

Mariovo is a region in southern Macedonia following the valley of Crna Reka (Black River), flowing through the largest canyon in Macedonia, Skochivirska Klisura. The small number of inhabitants in...

Read more

Çuka e Ajtoit – Eva Thomagjini

05-03-2021 Hits:5521 A Place I Like Secretary - avatar Secretary

Çuka e Ajtoit  – Eva Thomagjini

Hiking to a fortificated ancient area Çuka e Ajtoit is always an adventure. It is one of the most important ancient fortification in Albania, the scenery is thrilling, as well...

Read more

I love Kotor like this – Maja Krivokapic

05-03-2021 Hits:5313 A Place I Like Secretary - avatar Secretary

I love Kotor like this – Maja Krivokapic

The sun is shining in my town. Spring is coming; it can be felt in the air. In Kotor, that can mean only one thing – festive occasions! Even though,...

Read more

SEE Heritage network gathers all those willing to contribute to protecting and promoting the South East European heritage as part of our common European and world's heritage. Read more about the network  >>>


wish To become a member



South East Europe (SEE) – a region where people cooperate, understand and respect each other on the basis of their cultural differences, believing that cultural, ethnic and religious diversity is a valuable resource.


South East European Heritage is a network of non-governmental organizations established in 2006. The mission of the SEE Heritage network is to work toward protecting and promoting our common cultural heritage with the aim of encouraging the sustainable development of the region.

Liflet SEE 2015

SEE map

SEE map small

see publications

We have 31 guests and no members online