The English name ‘Montenegro’ was derived from the Latin name ‘Montagne negro’ (black mountain). There are many legends about the name of Montenegro. According to one, sailors gave the name ‘Crna Gora’ (Eng. Black Mountain), because while looking from the open sea they could see huge mountains covered with deep forests rising from the shores of the Adriatic Sea, dark and steep.
Soon after we passed through the Herzegovinian town of Trebinje we crossed the border (Klobuk-Kruševice) and entered into Montenegro. After driving approx. one hour we arrived at the Adriatic coastline and we were welcomed by a magical view over the Boka Bay (Boka Kotorska)
This Europe’s southernmost fjord is surrounded by the mountains rising from the shore up over 1.500 meters and throughout the bay are scattered numerous towns and resorts
The Old Town of Kotor
In the foothills of Lovcen Mountain is situated coastal town of Kotor, whose Old Town is dominated by Venetian-inspired architecture. This is the most historic town in the Bay and it’s very enjoyable to walk through the narrow stone-paved streets and cobbled squares, while on every corner you have something enticing to see – from exquisite little churches, monasteries, numerous palaces to fortification system around the Kotor with towers, citadels, bastions and on the highest spot a fort of St. John, dating back from Illyrian time.
So, it’s no wonder that, because of its rich cultural heritage, the fortified city of Kotor is from 1979 included in UNESCO’s World Heritage Site list.
If you’re not up for a hike to the St. John Fort, but you want to have a view over the Kotor then don’t miss approx. 20-minutes’ drive up to the great viewpoint on the Lovcen Mountain, where you will be delighted by a breath-taking view over the Bay of Kotor. It’s situated beside the road and there are few sellers of souvenirs, so you can’t miss it.
The Venetian Vibe
Kotor or Cattaro, as Venetians called it, is a small, delightful coastal town which will make you fall in love with it. The mix of forts and magical Venetian inspired architecture with the spectacular high mountains rising from the sea, through the almost whole bay totally blew my mind. Definitely one of the must-see destination if you’re visiting Montenegro. The cruise ships are coming often, so there is a chance of meeting crowds, but luckily that wasn’t the case during our visit.
To know what spots in the Old Town you need to take a small free map of Kotor from the tourist office.
Just a few kilometers northwest of Kotor in the foothill of St. Elijah hill (873 m) there is another medieval town that was under the control of Venice. It is hard to believe but this tiny stone town boasts 17 churches, series of defensive towers and 16 Baroque palaces, giving you the Italian vibe. Because of that, this stunning little gem of human history is also an important protected UNESCO world heritage site.
For hundreds of years, Perast was a joyful stopping spot for the Russian Czars and Venetian Princes while they were enjoying in sailing through the marvelous Kotor Bay. Today Perast and Kotor Bay are quite popular with Russian tourists.
St. George Island
Overlooking the Perast are situated two small islands – St. George and Our Lady of the Rocks (Gospa od Skrpjela).
On the first island in the 12th century the Benedictine monastery of St. George was built and besides it old graveyard where were buried members of the nobility from Perast and further from the whole Bay of Kotor. The view of stone monastery surrounded with high cypress trees and neighboring island with a beautiful church, both settled in the Adriatic Sea and with high mountains around them is just breath-taking.
To enjoy more in the view have a lunch in the restaurant of Conte Hotel. This is a beautiful 18th-century baroque palace converted into a small comfortable hotel on the coast. After lunch, we took a quick boat ride to the island of Our Lady of the Rocks.
Our Lady of Rocks Island
According to the legend, the island Our Lady of Rocks is an artificial island made on the same spot where two sailors from Perast in the 14th century discovered a picture of the Virgin Mary perched upon the stone in the sea. The sailors made a vow they would erect a church around the mysterious stone. From that day, all sailors and citizens from the Kotor Bay started to build island by throwing rocks and sinking old ships loaded with rocks every time sailors returned safely home from long trips. It took them over 200 years to made the island.
In the 16th century, a beautiful small chapel of Our Lady of the Rocks was built. It has a very impressive interior, definitely worth seeing. Amazing 68 oil canvases and more than 2,500 gold and silver tablets – gifts donated to Our Lady of the Rocks by sailors and other people as gratitude for keeping them safe on long journeys or helping them to heal after a severe illness. This is the biggest collection of vowel plates in the world.
Today many people from all over the world come here to see the chapel, donate a vowel plate and enjoy in a stunning landscape.
If you’re searching for a relaxing holiday with extraordinary panoramic views and fascinating history, then the Kotor Bay is definitely placed for you.
You don’t need to go to Italy to feel Italian vibe 😉
- Bus ticket from Kotor to Perast is 2 euros in one way
- The boat ride from Perast to the Our Lady of the Rocks island is 5 euros
The visits to Kotor, Perast and island of Our Lady of the Rocks are part of Exodus Travels tour – Bosnia & Beyond.