Written by Praskipark on 10 Jun, 2009
As you walk in a semi circle around the bay of Kotor and its sparkling waters you will hear lots of car honking and general chaos. A lot of police patrol the harbour front and they are quite interesting to scrutinise. They wear those wide…Read More
As you walk in a semi circle around the bay of Kotor and its sparkling waters you will hear lots of car honking and general chaos. A lot of police patrol the harbour front and they are quite interesting to scrutinise. They wear those wide peak caps like the cops in San Fransisco and I did notice that their gait was an extremely lazy one. I remember being very hot and sitting on a bench in the shade across from the marina and just finding the police patrols comical. It was like something out of Top Cat and talking of Top Cat they have those old fashioned tin bins in Kotor like Top Cat and his pals used to scrounge in for tit bits. Across from the marina you will see many different entrances to the Old Town.Once inside this urban settlement, you will feel a bit strange. Well, I did. I thought the town was a bit eerie but it could be the fact that it is closed in on all sides and this gives it a claustrophobic feel. I don't know if it was just my imagination running wild but I imagined being part of a computer game as a trader in a medieval town.There are many cobbled squares and twisting narrow streets, generally filled with people as day trips from Dubrovnik drop passengers off for the day. The stone buildings are indeed very mystical and the many cafes, bars and restaurants blend in well in these ancient and picturesque quarters. At night the fortified walls are illuminated making the steep mountain slopes behind the town a magnificent spectacle to view. Look further afield and the many churches, palaces, decorated gates which enhance the walled city suddenly come alive and it is like walking through the tattered pages of a history book. Each doorway you enter through becomes another chapter in the history of Kotor. As you stand in the main square looking at the cathedral and then up into the hills you certainly feel as if you are trapped in a scene of antiquity, a city of traders, sailors and pirates. So once inside this mystical city what next? There are lots of wonderful buildings to admire but I think the first adventure to go on if you are up to it is to walk the city walls and visit the fortress of Saint Ivan. This fortress is easily accessible by walking the walls and up the stairs to the top of the mountain where the city walls completes its ring. One thing I did realise when I attempted this journey was how out of condition I was. It is a very steep ascent but the path way up is stepped which in theory should make it easier. It was a very hot day and I had only gone half way and was terribly out of breath and should we say, perspiring quite a lot. There are look out points at certain intervals which was a good thing for me as I could catch my breath and pretend to look cool when other fitter walkers passed by and said, Hello. So as not to look knackered I held my breath, smiled and pretended to take a photo of the view. Once I reached the top I was relieved because then I could really get my breath back and take some photos and boy, what a view. It is so panoramic - a natural setting with the bay and the mountains as the backdrop. Amazing. You can see the whole of the bay and the entrance of the fjord and the walled city. Having been astonished by this wonderful view I then started my descent and you would think it would be easier walking down but it wasn't. My legs were trembling and I felt quite shaky all over. What made it worse was that there were some people running up and down the mountain and one bloke even passed me twice. How embarrassing is that? I was glad to reach the end of that adventure, find a little cafe in one of the squares, order a beer and get my breath back. Well, at least I can tick that event off my list of adventures with a note - never to try again! As I have already mentioned there are several squares in the old city. The city is quite easy to navigate and whatever crooked street you take it will always lead you back to the main square which is the largest. This square is called Trg od Oruzja. In olden times this was the square where everybody congregated. It is the focal point of the city and still today lots of people gather here, mainly tour groups waiting to be led on a magical mystery tour. The architecture of the city has many influences. I spotted Venetian, Austrian and French influences and a touch of Russian. As you walk away from the cathedral square you will see a smaller square with some orange trees and underneath these trees lie about twenty bin cats. They were always asleep whenever I passed and I have many pics of them . They were very scrawny and so varied in colours - real street cats. Another popular venue to visit is the Maritime Museum. You will be aware after being in Kotor for a couple of hours that the city is very influenced by the sea. The museum is located in the Palace Grgurin which is very stylish in a Baroque way. Details of opening times can be viewed at the tourist office inside the old town or there is a kiosk outside the walls also. Not all people working in the offices speak English. The museum depicts the history of Kotor's seamen from the 9th century and illustrates how successful the Boka fleet and its navy actually were. Models of old sailing boats, portraits of seamen, old navigational equipment are all on display. Also geographical maps, engravings and some nice water colour paintings of the surrounding coastal areas are displayed. These interesting articles are a testimony of the glorious days of Kotor's navy and sailors and the many battles between themselves and the pirates who roamed the Adriatic. Shopping~~~~~~~Shopping in Kotor is quite interesting. Apart from the souvenir shops selling kitsch and overpriced goods there are some very trendy boutiques which sell expensive shoes and designer clothes. Most of the shops are small and busy so it can be a bit of a hectic experience. There is an excellent bookshop near to the Bar Montenegro. It is one of those old fashioned bookshops that is crammed full with books and the shop is too small to hold all the stock so piles of books are lying on the floor and block your entrance to the shop. The young guy who owns the shop is very friendly and helpful and can speak some English but not very much. Only snag is that most of the books are in Serbian. For some reason I bought 5 Serbian/English dictionaries. I think at the time I was thinking that the whole family could learn Serbian. Actually, it is quite an easy language - much easier than Polish. So there you are - the old town of Kotor. Geographically - very unusual. An ancient city filled with chaos and a fjord of amazing beauty. Close
Written by Praskipark on 03 Jun, 2009
I knew nothing about the bay of Kotor until I received a postcard from my son saying that he had visited this medieval town in Montenegro and he thought it was really strange because the bay was actually a fjord. I was fascinated with the…Read More
I knew nothing about the bay of Kotor until I received a postcard from my son saying that he had visited this medieval town in Montenegro and he thought it was really strange because the bay was actually a fjord. I was fascinated with the picture on the postcard which was an aerial shot of the closed town and the fjord.I vaguely remember reading somewhere that Montenegro was once very fashionable with film stars in the 60's and Sveti Stefan was the place to go.So the last time my husband and I visited Korcula in Croatia we decided to take a couple of days out and visit this strange place. We caught a bus from Orebic to Dubrovnik and stayed in the old town overnight so we could catch the earliest coach to Kotor from the main coach station in Dubrovnik.As we said goodbye to the old town of Dubrovnik it started to drizzle. It was one of those humid days where the sun was desperately trying to get out but the clouds kept pushing it back. Usually, I spend my journeys window gazing but this time I was too busy listening to two Australian lads who were sat behind us.They were talking of all the trips they had been on and the countries and cities they had ticked off their list. Every now and again I would look through the window and see the odd villa and palm tree and think - Oh yes, this is very Mediterranean. But still that drizzly, humid mist was in the air - a bit like you get in the hills of Madeira or even in Norway.I also remember the road to Kotor seemed to be a steep decline and then suddenly we turned a corner and were on a narrow flat road enveloped by high mountains on both sides with villas and luxurious gardens tumbling down the hillside.When we first saw the sight of the fjord I can remember thinking that it was pretty spectacular with the craggy mountain of Lovcan as its backdrop and high above the fortified town the verdant hillside formed strange shapes and colours and played tricks on my eyes. The sheer beauty of the bay came from the bright blue waters and the startling white of the yachts anchored in the harbour.The walk from the bus station was an interesting one as the environment on that side of the bay is similar to most Balkan towns - a little bit rough and ready with hawkers and people trying to sell you rooms for the night. As we hadn't booked a room we knew we would have to get into a discussion about a price for a room but had been warned by our son about haggling and not to take the first price.We were approached by an old lady dressed in black with a slightly hunched back. As we couldn't speak any Montenegran we just had to mime and hope for the best. This lady didn't really say much - just beckoned us to follow her. She had a huge black umbrella which made her look even more like a crone from Macbeth.Eventually we reached the old town through one of the many entrances. The walled town is one of the oldest settlements in Montenegro and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is at the very end of the Bay of Boka Kotorska and as you tread through the cobbled streets you feel the age of time passed. The squares and streets are filled with churches, monuments and ancient houses where people still live. Our little old lady was one of these people who lived in this urban settlement and as she led us through a wooden gate up to some steps and through her door I started to get goose pimples and a bit of a shiver down my spine.Perhaps I had been there before in another time.The apartment if that's what I could call it was very tiny consisting of one living area with a table and kitchen combined and then next door was a very small bedroom which was all made up and ready for her guests. The room was very quaint and traditional and had quite a damp smell. My husband and I looked at each other and nodded our heads to say, No, but then felt bad about saying that we didn't want to take the room. We bowed our heads and shook her hand and then left. It wasn't that there was anything wrong with the room - it was just too claustrophobic and I knew that if we had taken it we would have felt bad about coming in late and disturbing her plus we couldn't speak the lingo and I really didn't want to spend my time in Kotor nodding my head and smiling all the time.To be honest, the rooms spooked me and I was glad when we closed the gate and we were back in the fresh air. Next stop was the tourist office to see if we could find another room or even a hotel. The tourist office was actually a travel agents and the lady in there was very helpful and told us that if we walked to the top of the town there was a cafe/bar that had rooms above the building and they were to rent. So off we went.Unfortunately, this little trip to the cafe didn't turn out to be a positive experience of Montenegrans or Kotor. Having made the proprietor understand that we were looking for rooms he told a young girl to take us up the stairs to the top of the building where the rooms were situated. At the top of a long staircase where two small sized rooms with a bed . TV, small table and a separate bathroom. We were allowed to look at both rooms and were left on our own to decide. They were both tacky and not finished. Cables were sticking out of orifices in the wall and the bathroom in one of the rooms hadn't been finished. Still, we weren't fussy and we were both tired by then so we thought that if the price was reasonable then we would take one of the rooms. But the price wasn't reasonable - we were being asked to pay 60 euros for the smallest of rooms. My husband adamantly said NO and that the proprietor was taking the Michael because we were foreigners. A few words were exchanged between my husband and the proprietor and by then people in the bar were staring at us. By this time my head was splitting and I felt desperate to find a room so we trundled off to the travel agent's again and told her our story of woe. She said that the guy was out of order and said had we thought about trying a hotel. She could recommend the Hotel Marija which is a small hotel within the city walls.Off we went again to find the Hotel Marija which we did and it was in a super location and the reception staff were reasonably friendly and welcoming so here we decided to stay for the night. (Review of hotel coming up in my journal about Kotor).So on our first day we were taken in by the spectacular beauty of the bay and the mountains and we immediately fell in love with the ancient churches, scrawny cats sleeping under the lemon trees, cafes filled with noisy, chatty locals and visitors, but not bowled over by Montenegran hospitality. Close
Written by dangaroo on 13 Jan, 2009
Kotor, located on the Montenegran riviera is a place I have very fond memories of. In the corner of "the only fjord in Southern Europe" (it's actually a submerged river canyon though), Kotor certainly doesn't lack class. With a background of limestone cliffs, it's no…Read More
Kotor, located on the Montenegran riviera is a place I have very fond memories of. In the corner of "the only fjord in Southern Europe" (it's actually a submerged river canyon though), Kotor certainly doesn't lack class. With a background of limestone cliffs, it's no wonder it was used in the last Bond film.Like all over the former Yugoslavian countries from the Croatian coast, to the Slovenian and Macedonian lakes, the Montenegran seaside has the same stunning jade colours.These days there are almost as many Serbs living there as Montenegrans, rich Serbs noticed the possibility of a property boom and put their money into the town. Now Kotor is a bustling little town with a healthy amount of tourism but still gives off a small village feel. Restaurants are pleasant and the water is just the right temperature (unless you go in January!). There are no sandy beaches but Budva is just a few kilometres away and this town has great sandy beaches even if it is a bit of an Adriatic Las Vegas.City walls lead 4.5km into the hillside and are topped with a chapel and a fortress where you can see down across the bay and the town of which the main building is the Cathedral of Saint Tryphon, another UNESCO building. The town is relaxed and we often had a meal after a days walking/sunbathing/swimming and bought a few bottles of wine and drank them on the city walls before heading back into the town to one of the nightclubs or taverns. If you hire a car, visit the nearby Black Lake Close
Written by Mutt on 17 Nov, 2004
One of Kotor’s most interesting features is the street plan of the old town; this exercise in chaos theory is a higgledy-piggledy mess of alleys and squares that have defied all official naming schemes and are only referred to by the folk names that have…Read More
One of Kotor’s most interesting features is the street plan of the old town; this exercise in chaos theory is a higgledy-piggledy mess of alleys and squares that have defied all official naming schemes and are only referred to by the folk names that have evolved over the centuries. So please bare with me as I endeavor to guide you through these names that range from the sublime Trg od Salate (Salad Square) to the extreme Trg Bokeljske Marnarance (Bokelian Navy Square) and include my own personal favourite Pasti me Proć (Let Me Pass!) . . .
Passing through the main Morska Vrata (Sea Gate) brings you out onto Trg od Oružja (Arms Square), named after the Medieval Arsenal that has stood the northeast corner since the 15th century. The square is dominated by the 1602 Gradska Toranj za Sat (City Clock Tower), in front of which stands the tall pyramid pillory where thieves, adulteresses, and other condemned prisoners were left to the mercy of the crowd. Other buildings to look out for here include the 18th century Kula Gradska Strazě (City Guard Tower), the1762 Stara Viječnica (Old Town Hall), reconstructed in Secessionist style in 1904, and the 16th-century Palata Kneževa (Kneževa Palace), which runs along the western edge of the square and became home to the city provost in 1667 following the great earthquake that destroyed the previous palace and indeed the previous provost, while the rest of the buildings are 19th-century private homes. Southeast of the square is a small clearing created by the demolition of Crkve sv Jakob od Lođe (St Jacob of Loggia Church), the foundations of which can still be seen. East of this stands the 1641 Palata Bizanti (Bizanti Palace).
Next to this palace is a small alley that leads through to Trg od Brašna (Flour Square), where you can see the 1776 Palata Beskuća (Beskuća Palace) with its 15th-century portal, the rundown 14th-century Palata Buća (Buća Palace), the 17th-century baroque Palata Pima (Pima Palace), and the 1863 Gimnazije (Grammar School). Passing the adjoining 19th-century Opštima (Town Hall), you emerge onto Trg sv Tripuna (St Tryphon Square), dominated by the twin towers of the Katedrala (Cathedral) with its adjoining Biskupija (Bishopric). Other buildings to look out for include ancient 14th-century Archiv (Archives) and the imposing 15th-century Palata Drago (Drago Palace). The alley to the south leads through Trg od Salate (Salad Square), pass the 18th-century late baroque Palata Vrakjen (Vrakjen Palace) and the 18th-century Mletačka Kasarno Gurdic & Vajna Bolnica (Venetian Barracks & Military Hospital) to the Južna Vrata (South Gate), and out to uzvora Gurdić (Gurdić Spring).
North of the cathedral is Trg Bokeljske Marnarance (Bokelian Navy Square), which gets its name from the Muzej Pomorski (Maritime Museum), housed in the 18th-century Palata Grgurina (Grgurina Palace). This little museum contains a couple of 19th-century interiors, some model ships, and various other maritime memorabilia, and is well worth the 1€ entrance fee. A passage to the west of the museum leads passed the 18th-century Palata Lombardić (Lombardić Palace) and the curious 17th-century Česma Karampana (Karampana Fountain) onto a small square named Trg sv Luke (St Lucas Square), after the pleasant little 1195, Crkva sv Luke (St Lucas Church) or Trg sv Nikole (St Nicholas Square), after the ornate orthodox 1902 Crkva sv Nikole (St Nicholas Church). Passing east through Trg od Mlijeka (Milk Square), you come to Trg od Drva (Timber Square) home to the 1221 Crkva sv Marijc od Rijeke (St Mary of the River Church), 17th-century Palata Grubonja (Grubonja Palace), with its arched entrance to Tvrđava sv Ivan (St John Fort), and Sjeverna Vrata (North Gate).
Are you still with me? If so, that’s a pity, as getting lost is an essential part of the Kotor experience, and there is still lots more to discover, so go back and try again.
Written by rhiannon1968 on 15 Feb, 2002
The ancient city of Kotor was our first stop into Montenegro: it’s the oldest town and also the most historical and best-preserved of all: not casually it’s a UNESCO heritage site. Kotor is a bit of an architectural melting pot. I’m probably not too wrong…Read More
The ancient city of Kotor was our first stop into Montenegro: it’s the oldest town and also the most historical and best-preserved of all: not casually it’s a UNESCO heritage site. Kotor is a bit of an architectural melting pot. I’m probably not too wrong to assume that it has absorbed from all the cultures of the people who have inhabited it through the centuries: Illyrians, Romans, Hungarians, Serbians, Venetians, French and Austrians. It once used to be a very important maritime and trade centre, although its evident now that the time of wine and roses is well past.
Its beauty is unchanged, however and it’s starts from the very beginning as you enter the town’s walls. Some stalls line the walls and sell very few products, mainly cheap cigarettes and a few fruits. The entrance gate is in pink colour, strangely: it’s a bizarre sight. When you enter the gate you are in a small charming square where the very old Bell Tower stands: there are a few shops, bars and especially bakeries: Montenegrin bread must be tried, it’s delicious. Walking along the little criss-crossing lanes you’ll find many old treasures: for example a well, the pinkish Drago Palace, the 12th century Saint Tripun`s Cathedral, or many other churches and old palaces. Kotor is really a delight for the eye: it’s very small, but there’s so much beauty in every corner that it takes hours to see it and appreciate it all.