Narrow streets, green window shutters, Venetian architecture, small cafes… Does it sounds like a story about a beautiful place in Italy? Yeah… but it’s in the Balkans! One of the most fascinating places in these lands! The Montenegrin pearl or also known as the „Bride of the Adriatic“… The small town of Kotor, which will enchant you with its charm!
How to get to Kotor?
Kotor is probably the most beautiful place on the Montenegrin coast! Yes, Budva is the most popular resort, but there is no the Kotor’s magic… It is located less than 90 km from the capital Podgorica, but the road is quite difficult and takes about 1 hour and 30 min. If you are traveling from Sofia, I recommend that you use the Bulgaria – Serbia – Montenegro route.
To fully enjoy the city you need at least 4 hours, can leaving your car in one of the paid parking lots around the gates of the old town (prices are around 1 euro per hour).
The first impression of Kotor
The first thing that will get your attention is the fortress walls! They are everywhere! They surround the whole city and descend like a spiral on the sheer cliffs of St. John’s Hill… Their total length is approximately 5 km! In some places their height reaches 20 m and width is 10 m… Undoubtedly Kotor’s most significant landmark!
Immerse yourself in the spirit of the city
We’ll leave them for a little while and start with a tour of the old town! Its charm is still felt with the crossing of one of his three gates! My advice is to start from the main gate – the Sea Gate. Impressed are the date and text inscribed above the entrance – the date of Kotor’s liberation from Nazi rule (21.11.1944) and Tito’s words – „Tuđe nećemo, svoje ne damo.“ Or in translation – „Theirs we don’t want, ours we don’t give.“.
We are now at Central Square – Weapons Square! Exactly, this is the correct name of the square, no matter how much you read it… I personally haven‘t come across another place with so many strange square names! There is more – a square of flour, a square of milk, a square of salad and more…
There is no way that the Venetian whiff of architecture not impressed you… The green window shutters bring us straight to the Apennines! In fact, Kotor was under the control of many peoples, but the strongest imprint on it was left by the Venetian Republic, and it is still visible today. An interesting fact is that he was also under Bulgarian rule, and in 998/99 he was conquered by the troops of King Samuel and became part of the First Bulgarian Kingdom until his end.
At the Weapons Square you will see another of the city’s landmarks – the 17th-century clock tower, which is slightly sloped by the many earthquakes in these lands. And before it, the medieval monument or the so-called “pillar of shame” impresses. From here, the best solution is to slip through the narrow and winding streets and get lost! Honestly… it will be hard to lose yourselfbecause the distances are very short and you will still get to the desired place.
It is mandatory to stop by the Flour Square, which has sheltered several fine palaces. The most beautiful is certainly the Pima Renaissance Palace, home to the city’s greatest benefactors.
St. Luca is one of the most beautiful squares! In its center is a small church dating from the 12th century and built in typical Byzantine style! Of course… it is called “St. Luca”! It is very photogenic, along with the hill behind it! At the other end of the square is the Serbian church of St. Nicholas, also dating from the 12th century.
Once again we wander through the streets to walk past the Maritime Museum and the Cat Museum… Yeah, the cats… Kotor is a place where you will see many cats! Including and on a most of the souvenirs… They have become an unofficial symbol of the city. And another thing that impresses, despite its ancient look and architecture, Kotor has many bars, cafes and all sorts of places for fun! Young people are not missing, and there are plenty of places for them!
Unnoticeably, the maze of narrow streets takes us to the main church in the city – The Cathedral of Saint Tryphon! It was named after the saint who was considered the keeper of Kotor. It was built in 1166, but the facade dates back to the 17th century, since the original was destroyed by many earthquakes… If you look closely you will notice that one tower is 2 meters lower than the other!
Numerous cultural monuments rank Kotor among UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The walk through its streets isn’t very long, but it must be garnished with a cup of aromatic coffee on one of the charming grounds…
View from above…
It’s time for the most impressive part of our trip to Kotor – climbing the walls! The trail begins just outside the North Gate and Church of St. Mary Collegiate, where the oldest archaeological find in Kotor – an early Christian basilica dating from the 6th century – was discovered. And between the church and the fortress walls there is a nice park where you can rest for a few minutes… before you go up!
The climb lasts for 30 minutes. The first stop along the route is the small Church of Our Lady of Remedy. Nestled in the roughness of the hill, the church was built in the 16th century by the plague survivors of Kotor.
And shortly after that is my favorite place to shoot… From there you can catch the roofs of houses in the old town, the bell tower of the small church and the beauty of the bay… From here were the first pictures I saw from Kotor… I didn’t need any other footage to start dreaming of shooting this paradise… right from here!
Let us not forget that our final destination is the fortress named after the hill – St. John. It dates from the 15th century, left over from the Venetian fortification of the city (together with the defensive fortifications). The views from there are stunning… All along the way you are accompanied by a magnificent view of the Bay of Kotor, but from here we see it in all its beauty. The bay itself is designated as one of the most beautiful sea bays in Europe and the world! The water is cut into the shore and as if the high mountains rise directly from it… Enjoying the view, you have the feeling that you are in the Scandinavian countries… in the many fjords! In fact, the Bay of Kotor is known as the southernmost fjord in Europe! But as much as like a fjord, it is a river canyon swallowed up by the sea…
For a final
Kotor is one of the most enjoyable experiences in the Balkans! Its ancient appearance and beautiful nature are worth seeing! The summer town is full of tourists… Today it is one of the most attractive cruise stops. Huge ships dock at the port several times a day… My opinion is that the best time to visit is in the spring, before the huge crowds of people… So you can enjoy it to the full! To feel the Adriatic whiff, the sound of the many cats and the hospitality of the local people… Balkan idyll with Italian taste!