Kotor Bay and old town © ollirg, Shutterstock
The architecture of UNESCO-listed Kotor reflects its Western European and Byzantine history.
In the furthest recess of the Boka at the very foot of majestic Mt Lovćen lies Kotor:
“In the winter the sea freezes and in the morning the first rays of sun melt the ice, turning the water into a thin layer of very light fog. Boats then seem to sail on the clouds, as if in a painting by the extraordinary Montenegrin artist Vojo (Vojslav) Stanić.”
But Italian writer Nicolò Carnimeo, in Montenegro, A Timeless Voyage, is describing the shortest midwinter days when the sun barely reaches the top of the mountain. In spring or in autumn, the most beautiful seasons throughout Montenegro, the city is held spellbound while the sun slips minute by minute down the jagged face of rock, bathing granite and marble in a honeyed glow. By now Jovan Martinović, archaeologist, polymath and respected citizen of Kotor, is viewing this daily pageant from the sea wall across the bay. Each morning he rises at 04.00 and, carrying his fishing rod, strides west beyond Prčanj.
Behind the mighty 20m ramparts that shield Kotor from the waterfront, the vegetable and fish market, and the harbour bustle, the medieval city is labyrinthine but small enough that it is impossible to be lost – just frequently confused. The streets are mostly unnamed, though a few are known informally. For example, Pusti me da prođem (Let Me Pass Street) which speaks for itself. The city’s irregular squares are known by their original designations: trg od Brašna (Square of Flour), trg od Oružja (Square of Milk), and so on. Cats scuttle everywhere but the absolute monarch is Mićun (‘the Big One’). See him strutting his stuff in front of St Tryphon Cathedral. But do not speak to him: like sentries everywhere he will ignore you.
Kotor is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
The Boka Kotorska
The grandest of Montenegro’s deep-blue inlets, the stunning Boka (‘inlet’) Kotorska is renowned for its spectacular scenery and cultural heritage, including the UNESCO-listed old city of Kotor. While its inner bays largely lack real beaches, the Boka holds plenty of potential for divers. And foodies will find here a couple of Montenegro’s best restaurants.
The entire length of the Boka Kotorska is 15 nautical miles or 28km, stretching from Meljine, just east of Herceg Novi, to Kotor. The road, which follows the northern coastline through Bijela, Risan, Perast and Dobrota, covers the same journey in a little over 40km of beautiful scenery.