In the centre of Ulcinj there is the mausoleum – turbe of the fake messiah, Sabbatai Zevi (Shabbetai Tzvi, Sabbatai Sevi). This Jew, who managed to warm up the whole masses of Jewish people in Europe in the middle of the XVII century combining activities of a messiah with mysticism, and who promised them the return to the Sacred Land, had been expelled by the sultan in 1673 to Ulcinj. He was trusted to the dizdar of the fortress, who then refurnished the upper floor of the Balshic Tower for him. Sabbatai carved two big David’s stars into the wall.
Aziz Mehmet Efendi, as the Ulcinjians used to call him, gave a spiritual dimension to his coming. The name Ulcinj (in Turkish Ylgyn) became Alkum in his definition, as an allusion to melek alkum from the Wise statements of Solomon, 30:31 (…and the king with his army). This meant that he came there by God’s and not by sultan’s wish, and that he was „the king of Ulcinj“!?
He died on September 17, 1676, only two months after he had turned 50. A legend still exists telling that a boy fell off a fig-tree and died on spot although Sabbatai had warned him not to climb on it. Feeling that probably he, the messiah, might be guilty for the boy’s death, Sabbatai begged God to make the boy alive again and to take his life instead, which was accepted by the Merciful.
By the beginning of the XX century members of the donme community (Jews who had converted to Islam) from Salonika used to make a pilgrimage to his tomb. A lot of distinguished writers, among which Isaac Bashevis Singer, who received the Nobel Prize for literature in 1978, wrote about this most famous self-proclaimed messiah.