6 minutes reading time Montenegro
I love spring and autumn on the Montenegrin coast! I love it the most when walking down the city of Kotor. Streets are yet not crowded, and every walk about the old town is a walk down history lane. In one moment, you are in 2022 and trying to find shelter from everlasting rain and wind. On the other – you glaze at the mountains surrounding the town and see fairy Alkima (freshly exiled from the sea-land of gods by Poseidon) thinking of where to build a home to return to after her journeys thousands of years ago.
A little bit of fairy dust
It is goddess Alkima that receives all the credit for the existence of the city of Kotor. Legend says that local seamen fell in love with the natural beauties of the Boka Bay and came to Alkima for a bit of advice about where to build their houses. They wanted to do it on the top of the Pestingrad area, to have a great look over the Bay. But the fairy suggested doing it closer to the sea and surrounding their homes with tall walls to defend them from enemies, strong winds, and pouring rain.
Abracadabra – and the city was born!
UNESCO World Heritage Site
There is a long line of historical events to follow when talking about Kotor. The city is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site list for its fortification built when Venetia rule was at its peak.
It’s touched in many ways by empires and conquerors of Europe: Ancient Romans, Ostrogoths, Saracens, Byzantines, Bulgarians, Serbs, Hungarians, Bosnians, Venetians, Habsburgs, Napoleon.
They all took some part of the firstly built city and left something for remembrance. Kotor is rich in palaces, old family villas, and Orthodox and Catholic churches. Small galleries and museums provide various traditional and contemporary art content throughout the year. Sea fare and maritime are a part of the local tradition since the city’s foundation, and part of that tradition is exhibited in the Maritime Museum of Montenegro.
Wandering about the city
If you are lucky enough to have a dry, spring day in the city, every step you take has some history written all over it. The streets of the Old Town are narrow, and stone buildings are three levels high. Even now, I wonder how people get their new furniture in their houses. And houses have spacious rooms, most of them decorated by the taste of their owners – new ones searching for their ‘self’ in modern interior decoration, and old ones still in the past century. All doors are blocks of the hard and strong wood. All windows have shutters.
There are very few secrets in the city. When shutters are open, one may learn what their neighbors have for their lunch. Loud sounds are shared as silences are. Shutters are there to protect from pouring rain, strong light, and unwanted intrusion of someone else’s eyes and ears.
Ground floors of the Old Town are all about souvenir shops, pharmacies, small bakeries, various shops, and numerous cafes and small restaurants. Each is different than the other. Coffee is the same as anywhere when you are in a new place, but every small bar, pub, or café has a unique setting and type of music. Some welcome only regulars, and when a tourist enters the café, he is looked upon as a rather strange specimen. Many cafes and restaurants are open only in the season.
Summer in the city
Summers in the Kotor is something else. Otherwise quiet, the city lives up. Hostels and apartments are open, summer cultural events are held in every corner of the old town, street artists are there days and nights, and warmth absorbed by stone walls and paths during the day keeps people’s hearts warm over the nights. There are carnivals, theatre festivals, and workshops. So much content to get involved.
Surely, you can play it safe and enjoy pizzas, lasagnas, and all sorts of (safe) European food. But when in the Mediterranean, it would be such a waste of opportunity not to try some local seafood!
Adventurous types may exercise hiking following fortifications. A couple of hours’ walk provides a reward itself. And sight isn’t just breathtaking but awakens that feeling that you are not alone in the universe. You are allowed to feel amazement until the winds start to blow strongly. It is then that you know it’s time to go back and return to the murmur of people.
People hike and ride (electrical) bicycles, scooters, small boats, and even yachts. In the summer, traffic is hell. It’s good to know that you can move fast by local bus lines and taxies.
Searching for soul
If you are going for a more natural feeling of living in a place for a time, you should rent something in nearby Prcanj, Muo, or Stoliv. You see these small settlements when you are in the Kotor Old Town and facing the sea. There are on the other side. There are still fishermen providing for their families living there, and small restaurants serve seafood fresh from the sea. Old stone houses and family summer resorts from the baroque era stand next to one another. But the new generation of owners build apartments for rent or have their old housings rebuilt to a more modern feel.
When you turn your backs on buildings and people, you are left alone with the sea. In Boka Bay, the sea is warmer than out in the open. SeaWorld is rich, beaches are small, and resorts are many. You can see the international cruisers daily, and sometimes they bring along dolphins from the open Mediterranean.
How to reach Kotor and why not for just a few days
It is easy to reach Kotor. The city is 5 kilometers far from Tivat airport. Several buses connect it to Tivat, Herceg Novi, Budva, and even Dubrovnik (Croatia).
It is difficult to feel the city just in a day or two visits. Visiting a traditional local marketplace, going for some authentic experience, food, or event, taking a boat to the islands, trying something new and something for the first time take time. Otherwise, how do you know when you have truly been at someplace?