Kotor is, without a doubt, the most beautiful city in Montenegro, if not the Balkans.
Depending on what era we are talking about, you will get a different history of Kotor. It is truly an ancient place. A myth of the Phoenicians claims that Kotor was built after the Argonaut’s quest for the Golden Fleece. Others point to its existence during the time of Homer in 10 CE.
Kotor today has a modern lifestyle inside the old squares, where the sounds of serenade and live turbo-folk music mix up. This is a town of stone houses, alleys, and balconies with iron railings, decorated with petunias. Many legends are created and are still being told here.
Apart from Herceg Novi, Kotor to me is the most picturesque town in Montenegro.
You will love its atmosphere, it is like the town was not built. It is like it was grown from the limestone. Kotor has it all — history, tradition, modernity, great stories, spirituality, culture, music, nightlife, good food, and adventures.
Kotor is a place where you will take photos all the time. Kotor is a place where you would wish to marry. Kotor is a place you will fall in love with.
Old City Of Cattaro (Kotor)
You can enter the old town through three doors.
The largest one is the western Sea Gate, from 1555 built-in the renaissance-baroque style. There is the South Gate also known as the Gurdic gate, which is the oldest one — built in the 10th century. The third one is the north gate representing the symbol of the win of Kotor over the fleet of the Turkish admiral Barbarossa back in the 16th century.
When you enter the city, through the main gate, you will see the largest city square, The Arms Square. It has gotten its name because the weapons from the Venetian era were stored and placed here, especially in the nearby Arsenal building.
The Clock Tower, The Prince’s palace, the Arsenal Building, and the Tower of the City Guard are located on this square.
The Clock Tower is one of the symbols of the city of Kotor and it was created in 1602. During the catastrophic earthquake in the late 19th century, the tower was distorted a lot.
Below the tower is the Pillar of Shame, which was used as a way of punishment, characteristic for that period of time. It was a special place where the criminals were tied in such a way that all citizens could personally see them and become acquainted with their crime.
On your walk through the old town, you will stumble upon Saint Tryphon’s Square, where the most significant institutions of the town are located.
One of which is the Saint Tryphon Cathedral.
Saint Tryphon Cathedral is the most beautiful and most important monument in the city that was built and renovated in 1166. Earthquakes significantly changed the original appearance of the cathedral.
This Cathedral represents a rich treasury of art paintings, including the work of local painters as well as foreign artists. Greek masters painted the interior of the Cathedral with frescoes.
Besides the Cathedral, there is also the Drago Palace, built in the 14th century with gothic elements. It has been damaged during the earthquakes, but today it consists of the southern and northern wing, and the windows of the palace are nicely shaped and profiled.
Walking through a passage you will come to the Square of Salad formed in the part of the town that was directly connected to the area where the vegetables were grown.
The City of Kotor is one of the main historical landmarks. It is the most popular part of the bay. Many international cruise ships dock just a few metres away from the entrance to the old town. If you’re not spending time winding down the pedestrian-filled arteries and alleyways, you’ll surely be eating at a side-street cafe or shopping inside a popular boutique shop.
This part of the bay might be more crowded than some others, but there’s plenty of history to justify that.
Climbing The Fortress
The Kotor Fortress takes its place in the UNESCO World Heritage list.
The earliest Kotor city walls were built into these steep, rocky cliffs back in the 9th century to protect the town from invaders. They were added to over the years by whoever ran the city at the time. The walls are mixed in with an array of ramparts, gates, churches, and forts.
And despite the onslaught of time, invasions, and earthquakes over the years they are still remarkably well-preserved.
The climb to the highest point is one of the best things to do in Kotor. But you do have to put in some effort if you want to earn those views.
The fortifications of Kotor started as a hill fort built by the Illyrians, who ruled Montenegro until the 2nd century BC. They were rebuilt and added to right up until the 18th century. And when you consider that Kotor city walls are up to 20m high and 16m thick, you will understand why it took so long to build.
It’s even said Kotor’s fortifications are the most expensive in Europe.
The Illyrians built a fort at the top of the hill overlooking the town and that fort eventually became a castle. There’s little left of the castle now, but the fortress walls have survived time, wars, and earthquakes remarkably well.
The fortress walls make a four and a half kilometre circuit around Kotor old town and the hillside behind. While they blend into the rock and shrub of the mountain during the day, at night, when the whole wall is lit up, you can clearly see its path around the mountain.
The majority of people who visit Kotor go there just for a day or two. They are usually just passing by, looking to take pictures from the fortress up high above the old town.
But beware Kotor is more than its stunning scenery and cosy cafes.
Kotor is for those who enjoy walking in history. For those who are adventurous. For those who dare to explore.
For them, Montenegro once so remote and inaccessible will open up.
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