Holiday in the Balkans (7): Kotor

Yesterday we viewed the Bay of Kotor from high up in the surrounding mountains, but today (Friday) we took a boat ride on the Bay and spent some time in Kotor itself. The whole bay area including the city is a UNESCO World Heritage site and it really is a magnificent location. 

The coach ride from our hotel in Petrovac to the boat in Kotor was around one hour and the weather was glorious. The Bay of Kotor is widely referred to as a fiord, but technically it is not a fiord which is created by glaciers but a ria which is sunken river basin. Whatever you call it, the views are stunning.  

After half an hour or so on the boat, we called on the tiny artificial islet of Our Lady of the Rocks, almost all of which is taken up with a small Roman Catholic church. Then we sailed the short distance over to the little town of Perast. In spite of being small, its location has given the place a distinguished maritime history including supplying ships for the Battle of Lepanto in 1571.

While we were on the bay, our coach had driven round to pick us up at Perast in order to drive us back to Kotor. This medieval walled city is known as the most fascinating city in Montenegro. Like all towns and cities in the country, it has been occupied many times, but it belonged to the Venetians from 1420 to 1797 and most of current remains were built by them. Indeed it looks a lot like Venice but without the canals and with surrounding high hills. Another difference is the experience of earthquakes, especially in 1667 and 1979. 

Entering by the Sea Gate (or West Gate) of 1555, our guide took us on a walking tour of some of the main squares: the Square of Weapons (with the Clock Tower), the Square of Flour, the Square of St Tryphon (with the cathedral of the same name dating back to 1166), the Square of Circulation (with the Maritime Museum), and the Square of St Luke (with its Romanesque church of that name). 

Like so many locations of this kind around the world, most of Kotor is given over to hotels, cafes, restaurants and gift shops so, when we were given some free time, Kathleen and I had no problem finding a good place for lunch and a shop to buy some jewellery for gifts. 


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