Loads of things to see, loads of things to do, although do be aware that the majority of those ‘things to see’ are churches. If you’re bored by churches, you’ll just have to make do with the whole ‘fairytale village’ aspect of Kotor. This is the most popular city in Montenegro when it comes to tourists, the sort of place that is already attracting thousands upon thousands of visitors all year long. You’re going to go to Kotor at some point, so what are you going to gaze at?
I’ve always been a little confused by Kotor Fortress, although that is mostly because of the lack of oxygen my brain has access to by the time I’ve climbed up the steps. San Giovanni Fortress sits 1,350 steps above the city and offers some quite stunning views of the Bay of Kotor, views you need to work for but are worth every drop of sweat and every minor heart attack. Actually, no, no view is worth a heart attack. If you’ve seen a picture of Kotor, it was likely taken from up here.
The main entrance to Kotor’s Old Town is the Sea Gate, and while the gate itself isn’t exactly remarkable in an architectural sense it does carry plenty of grandeur within its bricks. The exact date of the city’s liberation during World War II can be found along with a quote from ol’ Tito himself, a quote that reads tuđe nećemo svoje ne damo (theirs we don’t want, ours we won’t give) and lets you know just where the Partisans stand on the subject of protection. There is also a massive bench next to the gate, which is about as interesting and funny as this typeface.
St Tryphon’s Cathedral
Kotor’s most famous church, St Tryphon’s Cathedral was consecrated way back in 1166, although it has been rebuilt at various points during its existence. This is one of the oldest churches on the continent, home to some gorgeous frescoes and one of the most beautiful exteriors going. The Sacral Art Museum is found on the second floor of the cathedral, for those of you into sacral art.
Church of St Nicholas
Built at the beginning of the 20th century, the Church of St Nicholas is the main Serbian Orthodox church in the city. It ticks all of the Serbian Orthodox church boxes, meaning it has grace, charm, architectural presence, stunning art and some seriously good chanting.
I love a good clock tower, although I shall refrain from making my ‘kula’ joke this time around. Kotor’s Clock Tower doesn’t let the side down at all, a gorgeous time-teller built in 1602 that has become one of the main symbols of the city. It is also one of the first things you’ll gawp at when you enter the town.
There are a lot of cats in Kotor. Why? Well, there are plenty of stories, most of which are based around the felines that arrived here by ship and never left. Can’t blame them, really. People from all around the world have been trading here for centuries and people really, really, really like cats, so the furry felines would find their way here and make themselves comfortable. So yes, cats everywhere, although not always in excellent condition. The Cats Museum is in very good condition and is a must for anyone who dreams of being a ‘crazy cat lady’, although you have absolutely no idea what that actually means.
As mentioned above, Kotor has long been a busy port for traders from all over the world. The development of the town has always been closely tied to the waters, not a great surprise, and that relationship is lovingly detailed in the city’s excellent Maritime Museum. You’ll be surprised at how powerful this city once was, as well as its proud history of ship-builders.
Church of St Luke
Quite adorable this place. The Church of St Luke sits next to the Serbian Orthodox cathedral, and while it doesn’t carry the might of its Serby counterpart it more than makes up for it in the cute stakes. This was actually a Catholic church initially, so pipe down about Catholics and the Orthodox forever being at each other’s throats.
Bay of Kotor
Not exactly a ‘thing to see’, what with it being the location of the town and all that, but this is my blog and I’m going to write what I damn well please. The Bay of Kotor is probably the main reason people head this way, eager to fall in love with the southernmost fjord in Europe (not exactly true, but don’t ruin a good story). The Bay covers a lot of ground, with Kotor, Perast, Tivat, Herceg Novi and more within its grasp.
John Bills writes books about what was once Yugoslavia, tomes covering history, travel, booze and the rest. These magical pieces of literary competency can be purchased at this link, so get yourself over there and do the right thing. Pay attention to the discounts.