If you start driving toward Kotor the longer way, i.e. along Boka Kotorska bay, you will enjoy the breathtaking landscape where the mountains literally descend into the sea. Along your way you will drive past small seaside towns, such as Risan and Perast, in front of which you will be able to see islet-small church Our Lady of the Rocks (Gospa od Škrpjela). If you wish to reach Kotor faster, you should board the ferry – Kamenari Lepetani.
Kotor is the largest town in Boka Kotorska bay – one of the deepest and the longest bay on the Adriatic. Kotor is situated between the sea, the Škurda river and St. John’s Hill (260 m), with San Giovanni fortress on its summit. The old town is walled. The walls extend around St. John’s Hill and are about 4.5 km long. The walls are at places up to 15 m thick, and up to 20 m in height in some places.
Kotor is a typical Mediterranean town – narrow streets, smaller and larger squares, port. You can enter the town through three gates: the River gate, the Gurdić gate and the Sea gate.
The Arms square is the largest square, right next to the main gate (the Sea gate). There is the Renaissance Rector’s Palace, and next to it the building which in the early 19th century housed one of the oldest theatres around and the baroque city tower with a 17th century clock. Another lovely square is the one with the Renaissance-baroque palace called Pima. In the square in front of the cathedral there is the Historical archive (Istorijski arhiv) which houses the oldest preserved document, dating to 1326.
Kotor is a town of rich and interesting history. The town has always been an important transport and maritime junction with its own merchant marine. The Maritime museum is in Grgurina palace. The museum owns a rich collection of old arms and weapons, national costumes, models and paintings of Boka boats and sailing boats, etc. It paints an authentic picture of the centuries-old maritime tradition of this area. The city is the centre for Bokeljska mornarica (“Boka Navy”) – once a cooperative of seamen (with its statute dating from 1463), today a cultural association that strives to preserve the maritime tradition of this area.
There are numerous churches in the town (17 of them!), buildings from the Renaissance and baroque periods and other valuable architectural monuments. The saint patrons of Kotor are St. Tripun and the Blessed Ozana of Kotor.
The most monumental building is St. Tripun’s Cathedral, built in 1166. Also important are St. Mary’s Church (the Blessed Ozana), St. Luke’s Church from 1195, St. Paul’s Church from 1266 and St. Clare’s Church with the Franciscan monastery. That monastery has a library of about 20 000 books and 50 incunabula – books printed prior to the year 1500.
There a few prominent palaces in the town: Buća (14th century), Drago (15th century), Pima (16th century), Vrakjen (18th century), and Grubonja (17th century) on which there is a coat of arms of the old Kotor pharmacy, founded prior to 1326.
Kotor is a town that is on the UNESCO World Heritage List thanks to its cultural heritage. Like in Dubrovnik, winter carnival takes place in February in Kotor, while summer is full of events: Moffem (Montenegro Filmski Festival Mediterana – Montenegro Mediterranean Film Festival), Bokeljska noć (Boka night), Internacionalna smotra mode (International fashion festival), Don Brankovi dani muzike (Don Branko’s days of music), Kotorski festival pozorišta za djecu (Kotor children theatre festival)…
The mountain of Lovćen rises above Kotor. The mountain was declared a national park in 1952. On the mountain, in the midst of untouched nature and enchanting landscape, a mausoleum was erected for Petar Petrović Njegoš (1830– 1851), a Montenegrin ruler (“vladika”) and writer. He is the author of the famous “Gorski vijenac” (“Hill wreath”). The mausoleum is the work of the famous Croatian sculptor Ivan Meštrović, and it was built in the 1970’s.