Kotor, the only UNESCO cultural monument in Montenegro to date, is undisputedly the most beautiful town in the country. Countless peoples have left their traces in the picturesque town in the farthest corner of the bay, and the spectacular scenic surroundings contribute to Kotor's popularity.
The picturesque town of Kotor in Montenegro is well protected in the far corner of the beautiful Bay of Kotor, surrounded by a truly spectacular coastal landscape. Its breathtaking location and its cultural-historical monuments earned the town an entry on UNESCO's World Heritage List in 1979.
The red roofs of Kotor nestle at the foot of "Saint Ivan", an impressive mountain with dense forests, and contrast sharply with the super-expensive sailing yachts and cruise ships anchored in Kotor harbour.
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PICTURES: Old Town of Kotor
Photo gallery: Old Town of Kotor
Overnight stay in Kotor
Accommodation in Kotor is scarce, with most guests coming by cruise ship, making a stopover in transit or a day trip from elsewhere in Montenegro. Those who get a room for the night notice that the crowd is younger in the evening and the streets are busier. But by 1 a.m. at the latest, the streets become quiet, except for occasional turf wars between cats.
Sights in Kotor
The old town of Kotor is completely car-free and there is hardly a modern building that reminds one of the 21st century. The historic houses have all been reconstructed with original components, and in between small businesses, service providers and schools remind us that Kotor does not exist exclusively for tourists.
City walls of Kotor
At just under 5km, the city walls of Kotor are even longer than the famous city walls in Dubrovnik, but its Croatian neighbour is still quite a bit loftier. Nevertheless, a walk on Kotor's historic fortifications, which reach a height of up to 20 metres, is worthwhile.
A tour of the walls is best started at the north gate, built in 1540, near the rather inconspicuous church of Sveti Marija, dating from 1221. From there, you walk through the main gate at the harbour to the south gate. From then on, you have to decide whether to take the steep and arduous path up San Giovanni Hill (under the Montenegrin flag, you have a dreamlike view at 260m above sea level) or to go straight back down to the old town.
Tip: The entire tour of Kotor's city walls takes a good hour and it can get uncomfortably hot, especially around midday. Sun protection and sufficient water are absolutely necessary!
Churches Sveti Luka and Sveti Nikola
If you turn west from the north gate of the city walls, you reach two churches next to each other.
The church of Sveti Luka is the smaller of the two. The single-nave church dates from the 14th century and became Orthodox in the meantime, but kept its Catholic altar until the 19th century.
The much larger sacred building is the neo-Byzantine church of Sveti Nikola with its two pretty domed towers. It was only completed in 1909 and is dedicated to St. Nicholas, the patron saint of sailors.
October Revolution Square
Kotor's main square, Trg Oktobarske revolucije or Arms Square, is located just behind the main gate of the city walls. The three-storey Renaissance clock tower, built in 1602 under the Venetian administrative general Antonio Grimaldi, is enthroned here. If you look closely, you will see that it is no longer quite straight - a consequence of the 1979 earthquake.
If you turn south from the main square, you will reach what is probably the most beautiful palace in Cotor. The Palata Pima was built in the 14th century by the Pima family, the most important family in Kotor from the 14th to the 18th century. As was customary for the rich upper class of that time, the finest stone from the Croatian island of Korčula was used for the construction. But even this is apparently not for eternity - the appearance of the façade today unfortunately already looks a little run-down.
Sveti Trifun Cathedral
The next street leads to Trg Ustanka mornara, dominated by the Cathedral of St Tryphon. The bishop's seat of Kotor dates back to 1166, is the most impressive medieval building in Kotor and is often called Kotor's most beautiful church.
Behind the impressive façade with its two massive bell towers, a church treasure of gold, silver and marble and the relics of the patron saint of Kotor are kept. The furnishings and paintings of the Tryphon Cathedral are also of great value.
The frescoes were created in the 14th century by important painters of the Greek School, and parts of the tabernacle even date back to the Romanesque church on whose foundations the present cathedral was built.
The compact Palata Grgurina is the only palazzo in Kotor that can also be visited from the inside. The Grgurina family moved from Koper to Kotor in the 17th century and took the custom of building palaces from Korčula stone at its word.
However, not only the stones, but entire stone carvings were imported from the Croatian island. Today, the spacious rooms of the Baroque palace house a maritime and sea museum.
History of Kotor
As a relatively easy-to-defend place on the Mediterranean, Kotor was already an important cultural and trade centre in antiquity, but also a hideout for pirates and buccaneers. The first documented mention of Kotor was in 168 BC under the name "Ascrivium".
Countless peoples, from the Illyrians, Romans and Byzantines, to the Venetians, Austrians and Russians, to the Serbs, Turks and French under Napoleon, have populated the Kotor coast and left their historical footprint. Kotor has also always been a link between East and West, Catholics and Orthodox, Christians and Muslims, resulting in an extraordinary cultural diversity in the settlements.