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Ancient Kotor: one of the most beautiful and charming cities in Montenegro




In Montenegro, on the shores of the Bay of Kotor, the ancient city of Kotor is located. Its history is rooted in the deep past, back in the days of Ancient Rome.

A bird's eye view of the Bay of Kotor
A bird’s eye view of the Bay of Kotor. Photo: amira_a, https://www.flickr.com/photos/amira_a/10333274904/ (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

For more than 2000 years, the city belonged to Rome, Byzantium, and Venice. Both Bulgarians and Serbs ruled in it as well. The Turks also tried to take possession of Kotor, but, despite repeated sieges, the city survived.

View of the Bay of Kotor from the city of Kotor
View of the Bay of Kotor from the town. Photo: SarahTz, https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/14997392011/ (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

It was repeatedly destroyed by earthquakes, but it was always restored, and it became even more beautiful. Several times during the XV-XVI centuries the plague raged in the city. So for several centuries, the streets are being washed with shampoo twice a day.

View of the Bay of Kotor from Mount Lovcen
View of the Bay of Kotor from Mount Lovcen. Photo: SarahTz, https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/14807766058/ (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)
Panorama of Kotor
Panorama of town. Photo: revolution540, https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/15535724621/ (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

Navigation and overseas trade has always been the main occupation of local people. Three centuries ago, a nautical school was established in Kotor, which has now become the nautical faculty of the University of Montenegro. There is the Maritime Museum of Montenegro, the Institute of Marine Biology.

Kotor
Kotor. Photo: xiquinhosilva, https://www.flickr.com/photos/xiquinho/16064632788/ (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

For almost a thousand years, city walls have been built and rebuilt. They are slightly smaller than the Great Wall of China. Today, they are 4.5 km long, 20 m high, and 16 meters thick. At the top of the hill, on which the wall rises, there is an ancient fortress “Saint John”.

City walls of Kotor
City walls. Photo: csw27, https://www.flickr.com/photos/926660[email protected]/8506077176/ (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/)
City walls of Kotor
City walls. Photo: Aleksandr Zykov, https://www.flickr.com/photos/infanticida/5042665604/ (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/)

Built in the 16th century, the ancient Sea Gate has also been preserved in Kotor. It is the main gate of the city. There are also the River Gate and the Gurdich Gate.

Sea Gate in Kotor
Sea Gate. Photo: Dennis Jarvis, https://www.flickr.com/photos/archer10/10596204444/ (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/)

The Prince’s palace, built in the 18th century, stands to this day. Once here was the residence of the Venetian governor. And in the palace of the Gregorin family, the Maritime Museum of Montenegro is now located.

Pima Palace
Pima Palace. Photo: Paul Saunders, https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/27735704945/ (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/)
Muchnaya Square
Muchnaya Square. Photo: Dennis Jarvis, https://www.flickr.com/photos/archer10/10596522986/ (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/)

There are many ancient churches in the city. The history of the church of St. Luke (Sveti Luka), built in 1195, is interesting. Initially, the church was Catholic, because in those days the population was mainly Catholics. It so happened that in 1657 a lot of Orthodox arrived in Kotor, who were fleeing the Turkish invasion. The city authorities allowed the church to be used for Orthodox rites. Since then, the church has two altars, Catholic and Orthodox. In our time, the church has become completely Orthodox.

The church of St. Luke
The church of St. Luke. Photo: James Abbott, https://www.flickr.com/photos/jamesabbott1963/29455815421/ (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

The patron saint of the city is Saint Tryphon. His relics are kept in the largest church in Kotor – the Cathedral of St. Tryphon, built back in 1166. Legend has it that merchants once brought the relics of Saint Tryphon to Venice for sale. But a terrible storm forced them to hide in the secluded Bay of Kotor. The storm lasted for several days. And the inhabitants of the city understood that Saint Tryphon wanted to stay here. During the night they collected the required amount of money and ransomed the relics.

Cathedral of Saint Tryphon
Cathedral of Saint Tryphon. Photo: Dennis Jarvis, https://www.flickr.com/photos/archer10/10596560245/ (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/)
Cathedral of Saint Tryphon
Cathedral of Saint Tryphon. Photo: Richard Mortel, https://www.flickr.com/photos/prof_richard/29760684612/ (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

In 1221, the church of Our Lady of the Rocks was built. It contains the relics of Blessed Osanna of Cattaro.

Gospa od Škrpjela (Our Lady of the Rocks) island
Gospa od Škrpjela (Our Lady of the Rocks) island. Photo: SarahTz, https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/15002422245/ (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

There also is a good number of churches and ancient palaces located in Kotor. The old part of the city is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The list of all the sights of the city is endless. The best way to get acquainted with them is to come and see everything with your own eyes. Tourists are always welcome in the city.

Kotor
Kotor. Photo: xiquinhosilva, https://www.flickr.com/photos/xiquinho/16251331412/ (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)
Kotor
Kotor. Photo: cat_collector, https://www.flickr.com/photos/fruitsofkarma/21405720385/ (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

The beaches of Kotor

In Kotor, the beaches are pebbly, and those in the form of concrete piers with ladders to enter the water are also very common. It is worth exploring the coast around the city to find your perfect spot.

Kotor
Kotor. Photo: Thomas Guillem, https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/36600056126/ (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)
Kotor Old town
Old town. Photo: cat_collector, https://www.flickr.com/photos/fruitsofkarma/21414214411/ (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

How to get to Kotor:

The closest international airport to Kotor is Tivat. The distance from it to the center of Kotor is only about 7 kilometers.

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