These 5 Historical Activities Are Why You Need to Visit Kotor, Montenegro

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Montenegró is one of the best kept secrets of the Balkan region. Despite being sandwiched between the summer hot spots of Greece and Croatia, it remains relatively untouched by tourism. It’s hard to see why, when Montenegró boasts 294 kilometers of breathtakingly blue Adriatic coastline, stunning limestone mountain cliffs reaching for hundreds of meters, real Eastern-European culture, and old towns with all the history and ambiance you could ask for. 

The best of these old towns is Kotor, located inside a beautiful bay on the coast. Kotor is a must-visit destination for both history lovers and adventure seekers alike.

Here are 5 historical and fun things to do in this beautiful little city...

These 5 Historical Activities Are Why You Need to Visit Kotor, Montenegro

Hike the Ancient Castle Fortress

When you arrive in Kotor, the first thing you’ll see are the massive stone walls of St. John's fortress, which, while they ascend the mountain, seem to touch the clouds. The walls carry all the aesthetic of a centuries-old fortress, with crumbling rocks laced with green, overgrown nooks to explore, a historical church, and even the occasional goat. The hike itself starts from the very back of Old Town Kotor, and takes a good 30 minutes to an hour to reach the top. It’s a very steep and somewhat challenging climb for sure, but definitely worth it. The reward for trekking is a dazzling view of the city of Kotor and its immense blue mountains rising out of the bay that form the only fjord in the region. 

The history of the fortress goes way back, as the mountain has been fortified since Illyrian times. Later, it was expanded under Venetian and Albanian rule. During the 16th and 17th century, the Ottomans successfully laid siege to the fortress and occupied the area twice. Finally, the fortress was a part of both world wars. It was controlled by the Austrians in WWI and the Axis powers in WWII, until it was liberated in 1944. 
Hike the Ancient Castle Fortress. From These 5 Historical Activities Are Why You Need to Visit Kotor, Montenegro

Take a boat ride 

The waters of the Bay of Kotor hold no less history than its shore. From 1185 - 1371, Kotor was the main port for the Serbian kings and a flourishing trading port connecting the Balkans and the rest of the Mediterranean. Following that time up until 1797, Kotor was under the rule of various kingdoms, ending with the Venetian republic, who saw a huge rise in trade. The Venetians boasted 300 ocean-going sailing ships, and loads more smaller coastal boats. A boat ride through the Bay of Kotor is the most exciting way to seethe  fjord up close, while feeling the sea breeze, as sailors and traders have done for centuries. 
Take a boat ride. From These 5 Historical Activities Are Why You Need to Visit Kotor, Montenegro

Visit ‘Our Lady on the Rocks’ Church 

Off the city’s shore, there is a tiny islet which is home home to a church, called The Church of Our Lady on the Rocks. Legend has it that the islet was created over the course of hundreds of years by local seamen after they found an icon in the sea on July 22, 1452. After returning from every successful trip to sea, they would toss a rock into the bay, gradually creating the islet over the years. Today, the tradition is continued by locals who toss rocks into the bay every year on July 22. The church was built in 1722, and today is accessible only by boat. It’s decorated with paintings, carvings, and a stunning blue roof. 
Visit ‘Our Lady on the Rocks’ Church. From These 5 Historical Activities Are Why You Need to Visit Kotor, Montenegro

Make a trip to Ostrog Monastery 

Located two hours from Kotor, this monastery is a feat of human ingenuity. Ostrog was built inside a cliff wall during the 17th century, and how exactly it was built baffles historians today. Now it is one of the most visited pilgrimage spots for Orthodox Christians, but it’s worth a visit regardless of your religious beliefs, for both the mystery of the monastery and beauty of the surrounding area. 
Make a trip to Ostrog Monastery. From These 5 Historical Activities Are Why You Need to Visit Kotor, Montenegro
Photo Wikimedia Commons: Diego Delso

See the Cathedral of Saint Tryphon 

This stunning stone cathedral can be found in the heart of the Old Town Kotor against a beautiful backdrop of green, rock-strewn mountains. It was built for Saint Tryphon, the protector of the city, in the year 1166 on the site where an even older church was prior. Inside, the smell of incense lingers in the air, while locals pray. You can view the frescos from the 14th century which decorate its interior. 
See the Cathedral of Saint Tryphon . From These 5 Historical Activities Are Why You Need to Visit Kotor, Montenegro

 

More Montenegro travel goodness:

5 Desserts You Must Try While Visiting the Bay of Kotor, Montenegro

A Teen’s Top Ten Things to do in Montenegro

 

Izabel Antle is a member of the Youth Travel Blogging Mentorship Program. She's traveling the world with her family - follow her adventures at https://wheremycarryontakesme.wordpress.com/

All photos courtesy and copyright Izabel Antle, except where noted.

 

 

 

 

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