Gateway to the Dalmatian coast: Kotor, another pearl of the Adriatic


In my previous article, I wrote about Budva, which holds a very special place in my heart. Budva is a destination I can talk about endlessly, and when you go to Budva you also feel like traveling the entire length of the Adriatic Riviera. So, I will now share with you my adventure in Kotor, another pearl of the Adriatic, starting from Budva.

I was in Italy before the trip to Budva and Kotor. So, Italy was still fresh in my heart, with the smell of Venice in my mind as I wandered around Kotor.

This city, which is an ancient Mediterranean port, was built by the Venetians. It is of Venetian architecture with its streets, castle walls and buildings. Here, the old town and the new town are separated from each other. They call the old town Stari Grad, as it is in Budva. Stari Grad, i.e. the Old Town, has three entrance gates: North, South and the Sea Gate.

I entered this beautiful city through the sea gate. Above the gate, a phrase from former Yugoslav leader Josip Broz Tito greets you, “Tude nejemo svoje nedamo”, meaning “What is not what is ours we do not want, what is ours we do not give”.

Reading this saying, I thought I would better understand the importance of its meaning on my next trip to Bosnia, listening to the sufferings of the people and seeing the bullet holes on the houses.

Evliya Çelebi, the 17th century Ottoman explorer, while talking about this gate in his travel diary, says that when looking towards Kotor from the villages, only a gate facing the sea is seen.

At the same time, when Evliya Çelebi came to this small town, he was not allowed to enter because of the plague epidemic in the town, and he only saw the town from the outside.

Kotor, of course, is possible to finish visiting in one day with its castle, clock tower, cathedrals and squares, but like every city, each stop has its own story. So maybe Kotor deserves more than a day.

One of my favorite things about traveling is learning the stories of cities and their contribution to my personal development.

As you travel, you learn the stories of different countries, cities, and peoples. Everywhere you go, your luggage comes back heavier.

Somehow you become cultured. Even your point of view begins to change. You see how big the world is and that it is indeed bigger than our own bubbles.

This is where the change begins. Then your bubble starts to shrink, your problems get smaller. Because by traveling, in a way, you distance yourself from problems and your effort to approach the things that are beneficial to you increases. I think that while traveling, I direct my energies towards things that will make me feel good. It helps me tremendously.

I thought about all this once again while visiting Budva and Kotor. Once again, I came across beautiful landscapes. I lost myself again in an effort to capture every image I saw as I turned my head here and there. I was fascinated and excited, and again I said, “Luckily.” Fortunately, I have a passion for travel.

The clock tower in the city of Kotor, Montenegro.  (Photo by Özge Şengelen)
The clock tower in the city of Kotor, Montenegro. (Photo by Özge Şengelen)

So, I should share more details about Kotor which got me so excited after Budva.

I reached Kotor after a 40 minute bus ride from Budva. I came back from Kotor to Budva by boat. There are tours from Kotor that offer such alternatives to Budva. I preferred the land route there and back, I preferred the sea route.

When we got off the bus from Budva to Kotor, a giant cruise ship met us at the marina. Kotor, frequented by cruise ships, is also a natural port conducive to giant ships. The recess from the sea to the land rises like a harbor and the reflection of the famous dark green mountains of Montenegro gives you the feeling of a lake view.

When you come here you feel like “I should only visit the old town and the must-see places in the city” and the idea that Kotor is all about these places can make you miss a lot. Because, in fact, Kotor is not only a name for the city but a name given to the region. Therefore, the shores of the Bay of Kotor, namely Tivat, Herceg Novi, Perast and Our Lady Of The Rock Island, must also be seen in Kotor.

Located at the southern end of the Dalmatian coast, Kotor is also included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. This city, which also gave its name to the Bay of Kotor, is the only fjord in Europe after Norway.

This small medieval city has a fascinating view of the Adriatic Sea, especially when you go up to the castle, you are fascinated by this view. I don’t know if you would be intimidated if I told you that it takes almost two hours to walk up and down and is made up of 1,300 steps, but climbing the castle is definitely worth it to experience those magical moments.

Kotor has such an atmosphere; You try to understand the style of this place as you walk out of its narrow streets with stone houses to its plazas. Rising in the Balkan breezes, Italian architecture has become a synthesis and offers you fairy tale moments.

The boat trip from Kotor to Budva crossing the canals and fjords was the most enjoyable part for me.

Enjoying the sun on the boat, I came across fascinating landscapes.

On your return trip with a boat trip, the boat makes breaks at certain points. You can use these stops as swimming breaks or sightseeing breaks. As I mentioned above, this way you can not only visit Kotor as a city, but also see many places in the Bay of Kotor.

One of the stops near Perast in the Bay of Kotor was “Our Lady Of The Rock Island”, which they call “Gospa od Skrpjela” in their own language.

I think it’s the island of miracles. Because his stories are endless.

This man-made island has some truly intriguing stories. According to some of them, two fishing brothers, one of whom was disabled, found the icon of the Virgin Mary and Jesus on the rocks of the bay on July 22, 1452 and brought it home.

When they woke up the next morning, the icon was gone and the crippled fisherman’s wound was healed.

When the brothers returned and saw that the icon was in the same place, they called this event a miracle.

Over time, sailors brought stones and rocks to form an island and protect the site.

The old town of Kotor city, Montenegro.  (Photo by Özge Şengelen)
The old town of Kotor city, Montenegro. (Photo by Özge Şengelen)

They decided to build a church on the island they created with the stones they brought, in thanks to the Virgin Mary.

From that day on, this event was commemorated by a ceremony called “fasinada”, which was held every July 22 at sunset, and people would get on their boats and throw the stones they brought with them around the island.

You can listen to all this information and many interesting stories about the island, told by the church guides, after your entry by paying a fee.

Another story is as follows: After a while, the church became the church where sailors prayed before setting out on their journeys and their ships were blessed and in gratitude when they returned safe and sound.

In the church there is an embroidery made by a woman – whose name I no longer remember – in 30 years, using her own hair while waiting for her husband to return from the sea.

She used her own hair as well as silver and gold threads to embroider. There is brown in some parts of the embroidery and whiteness in others. Because if her hair was brown, it turned white over time.

The sad part of this story is that the lone woman lost her sight over time and died before she could see her husband again.

There are also silver human members in the church. The sick or injured gave them to the church in the hope of finding a cure.

I think it follows from this point that the church is also called “the Church of the Healing Virgin Mary who heals”.

There is another island near Our Lady Of The Rock Island, but it is closed to visitors. With only a church and a bell tower belonging to the monastery on the island, St. George Island is also called Sveti Djordje.

Herceg Novi is one of the places where the boat stops on the way back. Located in the Bay of Kotor, this small historic town is a center of attention, especially for tourists. This small town, which welcomes tourists even outside the summer season thanks to its thermal and health centers, is worth a visit with its clean and beautiful beaches. It is possible to see Venetian influences in Herceg Novi, which, like Kotor, has long been under Venetian rule.

Another stop is Tivat, located in the Bay of Kotor.

The old town of Kotor city, Montenegro.  (Photo by Özge Şengelen)
The old town of Kotor city, Montenegro. (Photo by Özge Şengelen)

In addition to its sea, beaches and fascinating landscapes, Porto Montenegro, built on a former Yugoslav naval base, is one of the places that made Tivat popular. Tivat may attract your attention with its luxury hotels which have recently increased.

Leaving Kotor by boat after arriving by bus from Budva in the morning was perhaps the most accurate of my choices here. It would not be possible to cross this coastline, which has the distinction of being the largest fjord in the Mediterranean, by land twice.

I had to let myself be fascinated by the jagged mountains on the other side of the fjord, the islands in the middle of sheets of deep blue like the sea, the winding roads embroidered like lace at the foot of the steep cliffs.

Although this destination is preferred during the summer period, I think it is a must visit in all seasons.

You can experience the melancholic atmosphere of autumn and the most magical moments of winter and bloom again here in spring.


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