As many other towns could be recognized by their historical events, famous persons, fairy tales, or just stories, thus Ulcinj and its people have always been connected with pirates’ stories.
Throughout history for many centuries Ulcinj had been a famous pirates’ nest. From the beginning of the XIV century the town had been settled by pirates from Malta, Tunis and Algeria. The whole coast stretching from Ulcinj towards Kotor used to be a pirates’ nest. The pirates demonstrated fear and terror on the sea, especially during the XVI and XVII century. The pirates bands were so strong that from day to day they attacked different trading ships which had been sailing under various flags, so that they were robbing and then quickly sailing into their shelters, which they had made along the whole Ulcinj coastline. The biggest damage was done to the Venetian fleet, caused by dangerous attacks of the pirates commanders.
Besides attacking and robbing trading ships the Ulcinj pirates were also known for their trade with black slaves. This was the reason why a great number of the Ulcinj population were black people from different African countries.
Even today you can hear stories told by the old Ulcinj settlers that by 1878 a hundred black people had lived in Ulcinj. You will also hear that among the slaves there was also the famous writer Cervantes who was responsible for the fact that one of the Ulcinj’s squares was named The Slaves’ Square. However, the most famous and the most frequently told legend among the people of Ulcinj is certainly – even today, the one about the famous pirate Lika Ceni.
The Ulcinjian Lika Ceni was the most famous pirate commander. Every day he attacked different trading ships with his pirate army, and sometimes even fleets. Once Lika Ceni and his company sank a ship which was embarked by pilgrims who had been travelling on a pilgrimage to Mecca. This was such a misfortune that was heard not only in Ulcinj but much further, too. Namely, as the Turkish sultan heard about this unhappy event, he ordered Lika Ceni’s capture and imprisonment. The sultan also announced that he would award wealthily everybody who managed to catch or kill Lika Ceni. However, at the same time there was another pirate on the sea, who was very dangerous as well, Lambro – or Aralampia, the name he was called by too. Since he originated from Greece, he knew the sea quite well and therefore he was claimed to be a very skillful pirate. Very dangerous and notorious Lambro soon became a real „sea monster“ for many trading ships and sea fleets.
The news about Lambro’s misdeeds soon reached the Turkish sultan himself. As the damage caused by Lambro and his company was enormous, the sultan soon announced that he was going to reward significantly everybody who caught or killed Lambro. However, time passed and the sultan was not able to find Lambro. The only thing he could do at that moment was to send a message to Lika Ceni and to pardon him for every felony provided that he managed to destroy Lambro. The sultan soon did as he had said, and Lika Ceni gladly accepted this invitation, obliging himself in front of the sultan “to either catch Lambro or get killed himself”.
After some time there was the duel in which Lika Ceni managed to kill Lambro. In exchange for this service and obedience, the Turkish sultan spared the life of Lika Ceni, and even awarded him with the title of a captain. Famous Ulcinjians, the descendants of Lika Ceni have also been distinguished captains.
Nowadays the legend about Lika Ceni is still mentioned among people as an unusual event, so that the Ulcinjians tell this story from generation to generation emphasizing that thanks to destiny once the most notorious villain from Ulcinj became a captain.