The old town – that is the most famous part of Kotor, where the Kotor history, culture, and tradition are being preserved. The old town of Kotor has a great number of monuments of the medieval architecture: churches, cathedrals, palaces, and museums. Its beauty is complemented with the multitude of narrow streets, squares, and markets. The old town of Kotor stands out also by the great number of stylishly made gates, palaces of the wealthy families, and a great number of stairs. The old nucleus of Kotor today is considered to be the best preserved medieval urban entity in the Mediterranean. The largest and the most impressive are, by all means, city bulwarks which surround the town. They are about 5 km long, 20, high, and about 10 m wide. Bring completely preserved, they are a unique sample of the fortification architecture in Europe. The beginning of their construction started in the IX century, in order for them to be added onto and arranged for the next 10 centuries. Bulwarks have 3 doors, through which for centuries people have came in and out of the town. From whichever door that you go into the town, the road will bring you to the most famous edifice – cathedral Sveti Tripun from the XII century, which is dedicated to the protector of the town – Sveti Tripun.
There are several squares in the town and the main, and the biggest city square is Trg od oruzja (Square of arms). That square was and remained the main place for gathering. Various gatherings happened there and it was the place where people from Kotor assembled. Cultural richness of Kotor is made priceless by its treasury which hides some significant cultural monuments like: Tower watch (VIII century), Cathedral of Sveti Tripun (XII century), Church of Sveti Luka (XII century), Prince’s palace (XVII century), Church of Sveta Marija (XII century), Church of Lady of Health (XV century), and Napoleon’s Theater (XIX century). Old Kotor has also numerous palaces like: Bizanti, Buca, Pima, Grgurin, in which today is Maritime museum.
In the Old town in Kotor we have the first Faculty of tourism and hotel keeping, as well as some music halls, Center for culture, galleries etc.
In the old town we have the greatest number of boutiques and trade shops. There are also some smaller shops and stores that offer footwear and clothes of the renowned European and world designers and creators. Except the boutiques and clothes stores, in the old town we also have a great number of souvenir shops, photo shops, jewelry shops, book stores, antique shops, hair dressing saloons, beauty centers, barber shops, cafés, pizzerias, etc.
If you decide to spend the entire day touring the old town, you will not make a mistake, because beside the research and getting to know with the town you can get refreshment in some of the numerous Kotor cafés. They are mostly found on Kotor squares. The old town of Kotor has also a large number of nicely decorated restaurants and hotels. In them you can try traditional specialties, as well as different Mediterranean food. In the old town there are also 2 hotels, in which you can accommodate yourself nicely, and pleasantly spend your holiday. The most important thing of all is to mention that the Old town of Kotor is on the list of the UNESCO world cultural inheritance, since 1979. From the same named institution Kotor was recently declared the world cultural inheritance in danger, so in the following period numerous European and world cultural institutions will give it even bigger attention.
Perast is surely one of the strangest, and by its history one of the most beautiful places in Boka Kotorska. Today it is often called the quietest town in Boka. Its narrow streets and numerous, mostly abandoned renaissance, and baroque palaces, testify about the former richness of the bay of Boka Kotorska, and about the days when there used to be led a luxurious life of its inhabitants. Perast used to be a town of sailors, and it was know by that even outside the space of Montenegro. We can see even today that famous stone housed and captain’s palaces standing out. There are 16 preserved palaces in Perast, among them is the baroque palace Bujovic at the very entrance in Perast. Other palaces are: Bronza, Sestokrilovic, Mazarovic, Balovic, Viskovic, Pavlovicini, Martinovic, Zmajevic and others.
All of them represent 12 Perast brotherhoods (clans). While along Perast you used to hear the sound of footsteps day and night, and while along the streets you could see the ladies of the rich seaman, and girls in love, walking, in the coves of Perast hundreds of sailing boats used to dock in, and today Perast is mostly an abandoned town, with barely 360 citizens. Even though the situation is like that, one should walk through Perast, and fill oneself with the spirit of renaissance and baroque. Perast during the winter has more sunny hours that the famous tourist places on the Azure coast.
Even though it doesn’t offer lots of events, Perast too is interesting during the summer. During July and August various festivities like traditional Fasinada – a ritual procession of barges and boast, which take stones with them which is then put onto the Island Gospa od Skrpjela, occur there. Fasinada is held in July. In August Perast is a host to the manifestation – Meetings of music clappers – in which competitors – singers compete in traditional singing which is present on the part of the Mediterranean which goes from Dalamatia to Montenegro. Because of the lack of beach zone, the coast of Perast is not suitable for beach tourism.
The Island Gospa od Skrpjela (Our Lady of the Rocks) is one of two gorgeous islands in the bay of Boka Kotorska, which are situated in the sea across Perast in the Kotor municipality. The other island, which also should be visited, is the Island Sveti Djordje. That island is also called “the island of the dead captains”, because according to a legend one French soldier, by shooting from cannon towards Perast, has hit a house of his beloved girl and killed her. That legend was a motive for the master piece “The Island of the Dead” by the Switzerland painter Beklin.
The Island Gospa od Skrpjela, was made as an artificial island, which according to the stories was made by the seaman from Perast and Kotor, who on their big sail boats brought big stones. On the island there is a church. According to a legend, fisherman from Perast, after a shipwreck near the island, have found a icon of the Holy Mother of God with the Christ on a sea rock, so as the customs say they vowed to build a church on the island. They have built the church in 1630. As the island had to be maintained, the seaman continued to bring the stones, so that tradition is alive even today. The custom from the old times was recently renewed. Today it is called Fasinada from Perast and it is held at the end of the day on the 22nd of July.
You can easily go to both islands from Kotor. The visit to the islands in the summer period can be a really interesting part of your entertainment during the day. The ride to the island can be organized as an excursion by tourist barges. A part of the cruising through the bay of Boka Kotorska includes the touring of the mentioned islands. The easiest way to inform yourself about those excursions is to go to Tourist organization of Kotor, to tourist agencies, or to go by yourself in Kotor harbor, and along the Kotor shore and to make arrangements with the owners of the tourists taxi boasts.
During the visit to Kotor you should, by all means visit the fortress Sveti Ivan (St. Ivan). It is situated above the bulwarks of the Kotor’s Old town. Climbing up to the fortress Sveti Ivan or as people from Kotor like to call it San Djovani, starts with the serpentines from the east part of the Old Kotor, which go to the very top of the fortress on 280 m above sea level. Before you set yourself to climb towards the fortress we suggest that you take your camera with yourself, because the pictures of Kotor and bay of Boka Kotorska, which you will see, can not be described in words, but instead they have to be first, experienced, and then noted, pictured. While you are climbing you can enjoy the sights of the Old town of Kotor.
Another reason because of which you have to visit fortress San Djovani is the fantastic view of the entire Bay of Boka Kotorska. The pictures of the Kotor harbor will also remain in your memory, which during the summer is usually filled with luxurious boats, yachts, sail boats etc.
Beside the serpentines by which you reach the fortress San Djovani, there are few resting places for those who are not in a good shape. A special indulgence will be the visit to the fortress San Djovani during the summer months. According to the announcements, the bulwarks of the fortress will be illuminated with special reflectors this summer, which will make the visit of the fortress San Djovani, and Kotor much more interesting to the guests and tourists.
Your visit to the Old town in Kotor can be supplemented with the visit of the Maritime museum, which is found on the Square of the Boka fleet. Whoever you ask or in whatever part of Kotor you are, and you ask someone about the Maritime museum, you will quickly get the information and come to the desired location.
Sailing in Kotor began to develop during the middle century, and the record of that is the narrative of the foundation of the fraternity of Kotor seaman, Boka fleet, in IX century. The memories on those long gone days and years, on the successes of the famous Kotor seaman, artists, ship builders, crafts man, states man, and diplomats, intermediaries between west and east, are today kept in the Maritime museum in Kotor, which is situated in the baroque palace Grgurin, and with due respect it preserves the fame of Boka and Boka navy. In the museum among other things one can find portraits of the famous captains, models of old galleys and sail boats, navigational instruments, and other very valuable exponents.
In the hole of the museum one can see six bronze tables in relief, on which the most important events and personalities from the tumultuous history of Kotor are displayed. Also, the museum has exhibited geographic maps, engravings and aquarelles of the coastal towns. There is also an ethnographic collection, which testifies of the golden age of Kotor navigation from XVI to XVIII century. In Kotor maritime museum a copy of the oldest document about the navigation in the areas of Boka dating from 1168, is being preserved.
Simply told in Maritime museum in Kotor all the treasure of our sea is exhibited. That treasure protects maritime traditions from oblivion, and connects the sea in Kotor with their people, famous seaman, who have sailed from it towards the far away seas. Next to the very entrance in the medieval palace Grgurin, there are two small cannons, which are symbols of the constant battle of the Boka seaman and pirates.