Tuesday, 1 May 2012



Kotor is a coastal city in Montenegro. It is located in a secluded part of the Gulf of Kotor. The city has a population of 13,510 and is the administrative center of the municipality. The old Mediterranean port of Kotor is surrounded by an impressive city wall built by the Republic of Venice and Venetian influence remains predominant in the city's architecture. The Bay of Kotor, one of the most indented parts of the Adriatic Sea, is sometimes called the southern-most fjord in Europe (though it is actually a submerged river canyon). Together with the nearly overhanging limestone cliffs of Orjen and Lovćen, Kotor and its surrounding area form an impressive and picturesque Mediterranean landscape. In recent years, Kotor has seen a steady increase in tourists, attracted by both the natural beauty of the Gulf of Kotor and the old town of Kotor itself.

Kotor, first mentioned in 168 BC, was settled during Ancient Roman times, when it was known as Acruvium, Ascrivium, or Ascruvium and was part of the Roman province of Dalmatia. Kotor (then called "Cattaro") has been fortified since the early Middle Ages, when Emperor Justinian built a fortress above Acruvium in 535, after expelling the Ostrogoths; a second town probably grew up on the heights round it, for Constantine Porphyrogenitus, in the 10th century, alludes to Lower Kotor.

The city acknowledged the suzerainty of the Republic of Venice in 1420. In the 14th century, commerce in Cattaro (as the city was called until 1918) competed with that of the nearby Republic of Ragusa and of the Republic of Venice. The city was part of the Venetian Albania province of the Venetian Republic from 1420 to 1797, except for periods of Ottoman rule in 1538–1571 and 1657-1699. 

While under Venetian rule, Cattaro was besieged by the Ottoman Empire in 1538 and 1657, endured the plague in 1572, and was nearly destroyed by earthquakes in 1563 and 1667. After the Treaty of Campo Formio in 1797, it passed to the Habsburg Monarchy. However, in 1805, it was assigned to the French Empire's client state, the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy by the Treaty of Pressburg, although in fact held by a Russian squadron under Dmitry Senyavin. After the Russians retreated, Cattaro was united in 1806 with this Kingdom of Italy and then in 1810 with the French Empire's Illyrian Provinces. 

Since the proclamation of Montenegro independence all attention was drawn to Podgorica which is now the capital of Montenegro. Kotor has developed purely as a tourist attraction in the following years.

Kotor is a unique city as it was built like a maze for protective purposes and it is very easy to get lost here. In fact, even the locals get lost. Take one wrong turn and you will wind up far from your destination. This can happen even with a town map in hand as most of the streets in Kotor are unnamed and are only know informally by names such as ’Let Me Pass Street’ and ‘Square of Milk’, which can be confusing. However, looking for landmarks, such as the 12th century St. Tryphon Cathedral, will help—and these landmarks are listed on nearly every tourist map. What can be more difficult is finding places like the Maritime Museum, which is located inside the Grgurina Palace, or finding public squares with funny names such as the Lattice Square, Flour Square, Milk Square and Cinema Square. 

For tourists, Kotor should be more than simply a one-day visit. However, if you’re pressed for time, the best way to see as much of the town as possible is to start at the main gate and work clockwise. From the main Arms Square, you will go right across the Flour Square to the Cathedral, then left to the Maritime Museum, straight on to the square housing the Churches of St. Luka and St. Nikola and then left, which will lead you back to where you started from.

Not many towns around the globe have had the honour to be declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In the ancient Montenegrin city of Kotor you would never imagine a more beautiful city, and Kotor has the highest honour of UNESCO’s declaration that the entire town declared as vital to our human heritage.

Kotor is a city where youthful exuberance and art meet tradition and antique architecture. Museums in Kotor are packed with valuable, ancient artifacts that reflect the city’s stormy maritime history. Architecture around Kotor has been pieced together from a dozen cultures during the span of a dozen centuries, and unlike any other place, in Kotor you can taste the true spirit of Montenegro’s stunningly beautiful coast.

True to its traditions, Kotor is the host of many yearly traditional festivals and carnivals, and the city knows how to showcase its beauty well. One method of really touching the imagination and romance the city has to offer involves the Kotor city walls. As an ancient city built in a strategically fortified edge of Kotor Bay, the city of Kotor is a walled city. The Kotor city walls are often illuminated during special occasions, and on the slopes above the city, the sheer magnitude will awe any visitor.

St John's Fortress

                                                        Kotor’s Top 5:
  1. The Cathedral of Saint Tryphon  This Roman Catholic cathedral is the largest and most beautiful building in Kotor, and was consecrated on June 19, 1166. The cathedral was seriously damaged and rebuilt after the earthquake of 1667, but there were not enough funds for its complete reconstruction. That is the reason why its two towers are so different one from the other. Another massive earthquake in April 1979, which completely devastated the Montenegro coast, also greatly damaged the cathedral. Luckily, it has been salvaged and the careful restoration of parts of its interior has not been completed until a few years ago. Today, this formidable piece of Romanesque architecture, one of the oldest and perhaps the most beautiful monument along the Adriatic Sea, is showing its splendour again. It contains a rich collection of artifacts. Older than many famous churches and cathedrals in Europe, the Cathedral of St. Tryphon has a treasury of immense value. In its interior there are frescos from the 14th century, a stone ornament above the main altar in which the life of St. Tryphon is depicted, as well as a relief of saints in gold and silver. The most representative works of Kotor's masters and craftsmen are kept in this Cathedral, making its collection quite unique.
  2. City Walls.  the city walls blend beautifully with the city’s ancient stone houses, and at other times stand apart like ancient bastions to ward off invading armies. The Kotor City Walls are more than 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) in length and reach a stunning height of 260 meters (850 feet) At the top of the ramparts you can find the fortress of Saint Ivan, reachable by walking along the walls. The Kotor city walls in general offer an amazing opportunity to circumnavigate the entire city on foot while taking in it’s rich history and beauty from the best vantage point – from above.
  3. St John's Fortress  Stretching some 4.5 km directly above the city, on almost vertical cliffs. Climbing up the 1350 steps will be rewarded by an excellent view of Kotor and the bay from St John's fortress. Only advisable for physically fit people, furthermore on some sections the steps are broken up although the entrance fees are clearly being spent on repairs (July 2010). The 1200ft ascent may take an hour.
  4. St George and Our Lady of the Reef. Are two islands in the bay of Kotor reachable only by boat, regular day trips run from the harbour. The Island Sveti Djordje (St George) is also called "the island of the dead captains", because, according to legend, a French soldier, shot his cannon towards Perast,  and accidentally hit the house of his girlfriend and killed her. The Island Gospa od Skrpjela (Lady of the reef), is an artificial island, which according to the stories was created by sailors from Perast and Kotor. On the island there is a church. According to a legend, fisherman from Perast, after a shipwreck near the island, found an icon of the Holy Mother of God with the Christ on a sea rock, so as the customs say they vowed to build a church on the island. The church was built in 1630. As the island had to be maintained, the seaman continued to bring stones. The custom continues to this day, it is called Fasinada from Perast and it is held on the 22nd of July.
  5. The Maritime Museum.  Sailing in Kotor began to develop during the middle ages. The Museum houses portraits of the famous captains, models of old galleys and sail boats, navigational instruments, and other very valuable exponents. There are six bronze tables on which the most important events and personalities from the tumultuous history of Kotor are displayed. 

    St George and Our Lady of the Reef


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