The Old Town of Kotor has always been a remarkable destination, with a history stretching back over two millennia, showing a civilization’s march through time. No visit to Montenegro should go without a visit to Kotor. CUE Podgorica remains the best hotel, haven from which to visit this beautiful country.
Walking the Winding Streets of Old Town Kotor
The Genesis of Kotor
Kotor’s name finds its roots in the ancient Greek word “Dekatera,” hinting at the notion of “hot.” Early mentions highlight an “Upper town” and “Lower town”. The former refers to the ancient part perched atop hill St. Ivan, while the latter embodies what we recognize today as Old Town Kotor.
Dominions and Dynasties: Who Ruled Kotor?
Kotor has borne witness to many hands of power. From the Illyrians, Venetians, Austrians to the French, the influence of these rulers is palpable in its culture and architecture.
The first torchbearers were the Illyrians around the III and II centuries B.C. However, the Romans left a more indelible mark, establishing their dominance from 168 B.C. to 476 A.D, referring to the town as Akruvijum. The Byzantines then took the baton, renaming the city as Dekaderon till 1185.
The medieval era ushered in a prosperous phase under the Nemanjić dynasty, turning Kotor into a bustling seaport and bridging connections with the West.
Kotor, valuing its independence, became a republic from 1391 to 1420. However, fearing Turkish conquest, the Big council of Kotor handed over the reigns to the Venetian Republic. This Venetian era, up until 1797, was tumultuous, marking one of Kotor’s most dramatic chapters.
The 19th century was no less eventful. Austrians and French had their moments of ascendancy. It was the Montenegrin ruler, Petar I Petrović, who in collaboration with the locals, rebelled against the French in 1813, briefly uniting Kotor and Montenegro. However, the union was short-lived, and Austria stamped its authority till 1918. Their century-long reign was fraught with uprisings from the locals.
Diverse Historical Attractions of Old town Kotor
Delving into its heart, old town Kotor captivates visitors with its cobblestoned streets. Surrounding the city, ancient walls extend for an impressive 4.5 km, tracing the contours of the town and offering breathtaking panoramic views of the Adriatic below.
1. The Grand Entrances
Old Town Kotor boasts three majestic gates that welcome visitors. The Sea Gate, reflecting Renaissance-Baroque splendor, stands as a testament to the Venetian reign. While the South Gate, or the Gurdic gate, is the oldest, the north gate immortalizes Kotor’s victory over the renowned Turkish admiral, Barbarosa.
2. Exploring The Arms Square
Upon entering through the Sea Gate, visitors are greeted by the expansive Arms Square (Trg od oružja). Once a storehouse for Venetian weaponry, this square now houses prominent structures like the Clock Tower and the Prince’s Palace.
3. Saint Tryphon Cathedral
Towering over Saint Tryphon’s Square, this cathedral is a work of art, with frescoes painted by Greek masters. Earthquakes have changed its visage, but it remains a beautiful mix of Romanesque, Gothic, and Baroque elements.
4. Squares That Speak History
From the Square of Salad, echoing with stories of vegetable trade, to the Boka Naval Square, home to the Maritime Museum nestled within the baroque Grgurina Palace, Kotor’s squares are all uniquely interesting. The Milk Square and the Square of Saint Luka, with its charming Church of Saint Luka, offer serene retreats.
5. San Giovanni’s fortress, a Stone Sentinel
Perhaps the most iconic symbol of Kotor, the San Giovanni Fortress offers beautiful views of the Adriatic. Stretching over 4.5 kilometers, this fortress serves as a historic sentinel. Don’t miss the church of Our Lady of Health on your climb to the top.
6. Islets of the Adriatic: Kotor’s Day-Trip Destinations
In the serene waters near Kotor, one finds the enchanting islets of Sveti Đorđe and Gospa od Škrpijela off the coast of Perast. Rich in legends, history, and unparalleled scenic beauty, these islets beckon travelers seeking a deeper connection with the region’s maritime legacy.
7. Cats: The Whiskered Ambassadors of Kotor
As you meander through these historic sites, don’t be surprised if you’re joined by some adorable local guides. Almost as photogenic as the landmarks themselves, Kotor’s resident cats are an integral part of the town’s charm. Their presence not only adds a touch of whimsy but underscores the town’s unique character, making them just as worthy of your camera’s attention.
Wander through the town’s cobbled alleys and squares, and you’re greeted by “The Cats’ Square” (Trg od mačaka), boutique cat stores, and even a museum dedicated to these whiskered denizens.
The community’s fondness for these cats is palpable. Across the city, one would find food and water laid out for them, and makeshift cardboard abodes ensuring they have a cozy nook to curl up in.
Charities like Kotor Kitties have sprung up, dedicating themselves to alleviating the hardships faced by these cats. Their initiatives, particularly focusing on spaying and neutering, aim to create a more humane environment for the city’s feline ambassadors.
Navigating Your Way to Kotor
Reaching Kotor, the gem of the Adriatic, is a fairly straightforward affair. Situated strategically, the town is linked to the Adriatic Highway, which further connects to both the coastline and the inner territories of Montenegro via the Vrmac Tunnel. If you’re traveling from the inland, you can take a detour from the Adriatic highway at locales like Budva or Sutomore, the latter taking you through the Sozina tunnel. For those keen on scenic routes, there’s an old-world road linking Kotor and Cetinje, offering panoramic views of the Kotor bay.
The Old Town Kotor, with its maze of historical landmarks, offers an insight into Montenegro’s past. For history buffs, architectural enthusiasts, or travelers seeking a beautiful European destination, Kotor promises an unforgettable experience. Book a Stay at CUE Podgorica today and visit this marvel at first chance.