A UNESCO world heritage site, the well preserved medieval walled town of Kotor sits at the foot of Mt. Lovcen at the southern end of the Boka Kotorska Bay, a fijord that is unique in the Mediterranean.
A brief history
Surrounded by city walls, the old town of Kotor was first settled during the Roman times, when it was known as Acruvium and was part of the Roman province of Dalmatia. In the tenth century, it became an autonomous city of the Byzantine Empire. Kotor was then an independent republic from 1395 to 1420 and between 1420-1797 Kotor and its surroundings belonged to Venice.
The Venetian influence is very evident in the architecture of the city today. After 1918, Kotor became part of Yugoslavia. It was an Italian province during World War II and after the War it was incorporated into Yugoslavia. A large number of the monuments (including four Romanesque churches and the town walls) were seriously damaged by the 1979 earthquake but the town has been restored, largely with UNESCO's help. The fortification system of Kotor, which protects it from the sea, is a wall 4.5 km long, 20 m high and 15 m wide, and is preserved as one of the world’s historic sites.
Kotor is a charming town with marble streets and many piazzas revealing a fascinating mix of baroque, Venetian and Austrian architecture. The defensive walls of the town stretch high up behind the mountain itself. At night, these are lit to spectacular effect, revealing from a distance - the walls shape in the the form of the Lion of Venice.
Kotor although a historic town is also a lively vibrant place with many activities all year round. Kotor carnival and Boka night are two summer festivals not to be missed. On these occasions, the whole town is turned into one great big street party.
It is a city of attractive taverns (konobe) and seafood restaurants, modern cafes and nightclubs. During the summer the large harbour is besieged by large passenger ships and yachts arriving from around the world.
Kotor has an amazing array of churches well worth visiting. You will find St Tryphon Cathedral situated within the old walled town at St Tryphons Square. Built in 1166 on the fundaments of the small Romanesque church from the 9th century. You will be able to see its rich collection of art, gold and silver relics all the work of local masters from the period from the 14th century to the 18th century. The most important part of the interior decoration of the cathedral is the Romanesque - Gothic ciborium from the 14th century situated above the main alter. On the wall of the apse there is the golden altarpiece with figures of Christ, the Virgin, St John the Baptist and St Tryphon and sixteen other Saints. It is the masterpiece of Kotor's Goldsmiths work of the 15th century.
The church of St Klara - with its Franciscan monastary derives from the 18th century and has a wonderful library displaying a collection of books from the early 15th century. The church of St Ozana, built in 1221 with the relics of Saint Ozana - known locally as 'Blessed Ozana'. St Nikola Church built in 1902 and St Luka's church from 1195 which is the only building in the town which did not suffere any major earthquake damage. Once a catholic church this was handed to the Orthodox people to use and thus has now both an Orthodox and Catholic alter.
Kotor has been selected as one of the Top 5 cruising destinations on the Mediterranean by the Cruise Critic web portal. They described it with these
words: 'Kotor was a little gem. Anyone that gets a chance should visit at least once.
Things to do
- Climb the city walls to the San Giovanni fortress for a fantastic view of the Bay of Kotor
- Visit the vibrant and colourful market close to the walled entrance of the old town
- Visit the many churches such as Tryphon Cathedral built in 1166 and situated in Tryphon Square
- Party all night at one of the many nightclubs
- Discover the town's fascinating nautical heritage at the Kotor Maritime museum