Kotor, a Well Preserved Medieval Town

Kotor is one of the best kept medieval towns along the Adriatic coast. The Old Walls protecting this town are a fortification masterpiece. These walls are skillfully crafted into the natural steep slopes of the St. John’s hill. Due to its well-preserved architecture and seamless integration of the town with the natural landscape, Kotor has been an Unesco World Heritage Site since 1979.

Located along one of the world’s most beautiful bays of Kotor, it is not only a cruise harbour but also attracts many tourists from Dubrovnik, Croatia. Dubrovnik is a popular cruise harbour. Many cruise passengers can take day trip to Kotor easily by joining tour. Those tours also include Pereast or Budva, for example, the Montenegro Day Trip from Dubrovnik.

Why Kotor is so unique

When we were back from Cetinje via Kotor Serpentine, the views from the road left us a strong impression. Located on the only natural fjord of its kind in the world, the Bay of Kotor has made to the list of Most Beautiful Bays in the World. The view of this town is one of the amazing sights, not only of the Adriatic coast but of the world.

Sea Gate

Kotor is not about beautiful but also about its history. The town is known under many names throughout history, Katareo, followed by Dekatera, Dekaderon and Katarum, and others. It is unclear how Kotor was found. But the common information is that the Greek were the first settlers. The town changed rulers several times, and it was at its most prosperous as a Serbian state during the Nemanjić dynasty of 1185-1371. Later Venetian ruled in 1420 until 1797. From 1797 to 18143, Kotor fell into another period of transition. In 1813, Metropolitan Petar I Petrovic unified Bay of Kotor with Montenegro. Later, in 1918, Bay of Kotor and Montenegro became part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.

In history, seafaring, artistry, weaponry, and goldsmithing were popular trades in Kotor. Besides, historical figures including Fra Vito—the architect of the Monastery Dečani, as well as countless sea captains, diplomats, publishers, and poets had made this cultural heritage site.

The clock tower at Square of Arms, Kotor
The clock tower at Square of Arms, Kotor

The clock tower in Kotor old town

The town has three gates. We entered from Sea Gate, the main entrance of the old town. The centre  has a labyrinth of shady cobbled streets, peaceful squares and graceful old buildings, and narrow dark alleyways. You would not miss the Kotor’s clock tower, one of Kotor’s monuments. It was built in 1602 and had not been finished when the earthquake in 1667 took place. As a result of that occasion, the tower considerably inclined towards the west. Later, having attempted to put it back in upright position, it returned to the same position after the 1979 catastrophic earthquake.

The Churches

Cathedral of Saint Tryphon (Sveti Tripun) is at the center of one of these squares, and it’s a monument of Roman culture and one of the most recognizable symbols of the city. Other monuments of the medieval architecture include the Church of Saint Luke, Church of Saint Ana, Church of Saint Mary, Church of the Healing Mother of God, the Prince’s Palace, and the Napoleon’s Theatre. Needless to say, they are all treasures of the rich heritage of Kotor. One of the noble’s palaces is the Maritime Museum now.

Narrow Lane in Kotor Old Town

The pleasant atmosphere

Kotor old town is full of natural and cultural history. It is clean and decent. Many bars, unusual craft shops, cafes, and boutiques are distributed among a maze of narrow lanes and streets. It has all the features of a medieval town. The whole area is a walking zone. During the winter season, some restaurants did not open. We saw more people when passing by Square of Arms. Compared to Dubrovnik, this town is small but has a less commercial atmosphere.

The old town has many stories to tell. For a couple of dollars, you can join the 1-Hour Essential Walking Tour and let the locals tell you those stories. This private Kotor Walking Tour is the perfect way to get to know more about the history and heritage not only of this town but also of Montenegro. 

The upper city walls

We entered the upper city walls from Kotor old town. The wall was built on cliffs and is quite steep. The first part took us roughly 15 minutes. At a chapel called “Lady of Remedy” we had our short break. We could already catch the bay view from that point. The stone stairs were partially in good shape, but comfortable shoes were definitely recommended.

Lady of Remedy

There are around 1400 steps all the way to the top. After a short break, we continued negotiating stairs. My breath came in short gasps due to elevation. A thin layer of sweat soon covered my body. But the locals were jogging up and down so easily. They might do the exercises on a regular base because all of them kept their breath steady. It took nearly one hour for us to reach the top.

We had a rest on the top to catch up our breath while enjoying the view of the old town and the Kotor bay. It was in the mid of the day and was the best time to take a picture of the old town.  Late afternoon on our way down, we met a few more tourists. Though it was easier to get down, we still took precaution. I would not recommend walking here in a wet condition. From the nature point of view, this part is the best of the Kotor. The 5th day of our Montenegro road trip was quite exhausting.

Kotor Harbour

Tours

Many tourists come to Kotor from Dubrovnik. There are many day trips including different activities and places. The duration of these tours is half-day, one-day and two-day.  It is worth to mention, that some tours include Perast, the most beautiful village along the Bay of Kotor. To book a tour, please check:

Where to stay

There are many accommodations in and around Kotor. If you prefer to stay in the centre of the old town, I would suggest the Hotel Villa Duomo. Its rooms are decorated with traditional handcrafted furnishings. You can find some budget hotel at the following platform.

How to get there

By plane

If you arrive at Dubrovnik Airport, you can take a taxi to Kotor. From Tivat Airport ta taxi costs only a few Euros. In case you arrive at Podgorica AirPort, there are buses to Kotor year around.

By bus

Buses run between Kotor and the following cities: Podgorica,  Bar, Dubrovnik, Mostar, Split, Sarajevo, Belgrade, and Skopje.

By car

It is possible to drive to Kotor from the capital, Budva or other neighbouring towns. You need to be aware of the speed limit which is around 70km per hour.

For the detail information about how to get there, please check here.

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