One Way to do Kotor

Cruise ships are now more regularly making visits to the Montenegrin port of Kotor at the lower end of the Adriatic Sea.

 

Though not as glamourous and photogenic as its Croatian near neighbour, Dubrovnik, it is  all the same a worthwhile place to visit with plenty to see and keep the average cruise passenger occupied.

 

For most cruise ships visiting Kotor it will be a ‘Tender’ port.

Kotor has one of the best preserved medieval  old towns in the Adriatic and is a UNESCO world heritage site. It is home to numerous sights, with ancient walls  stretching  for 4.5 km  above the city. Indeed, it is the old town that will be the main place of interest for those not wishing to venture further afield.

My wife and I visited earlier this year while cruising on board P&O’s Ventura. We had opted for an excursion booked through cruising excursion.com entitled  ‘Essential Collection – Budva & Sveti Stefan Tour’ which was scheduled to last 4½ hours. We figured that starting early in the morning would give us time to see Kotor on our return – a plan that paid off.

The drive to Sveti Stefan actually took us through Budva and was of reasonable interest, the English speaking guide being good and offering many interesting facts and anecdotes about Montenegrin life and culture.

Sveti Stefan originated in the 15th century as a fortified village,   built to defend against Turkish invasion.

Following the Second World War the island village became an exclusive resort frequented by high profile elites of the world.

 

It is now a very exclusive hotel and a very much photographed one at that…

 

*****

 

 

The coastal drive between Budva and Sveti Stefan was magnificent and took approximately 15 minutes each way.

 

On our return to Budva we were given a fully escorted tour of Old Budva and its Citadel, starting at one of the local beaches outside the Old Town outer walls….

 

…and  entering the lower part of the old town…

 

…before making our way to the Citadel entrance

 

…via the Old Town Holy Trinity Church...

 

 

Once inside the Citadel…

 

 

and its upper levels…

 

*****

 

 

we had some glorious views back across the bay towards Sveti Stefan

 

 

…and over Old Budva itself…

 

 

We also visited the Citadel’s museum where our guide gave a talk on its history before she took us on a walk through the old town with its narrow streets…

 

 

and a chance to view Budva’s ‘Long Ships Bell

 

 

The bell actually  owes its existence to the movie “The Long Ships” in which it represented  “a great bell, called ‘The Mother of Voices’, made of pure gold, three times the size of a man, and which was made by monks centuries before.

We were allowed around an hour of free time to explore Old Budva before we commenced our coach journey back to Kotor.

 

Arriving in Kotor early afternoon gave us the opportunity to firstly explore the heavily fortified, historical and central touristy area, again known as the ‘Old Town’…

 

 

For those that so wish there are adequate HoHo buses that depart very close to the tender docking station…

 

 

 

Passing through Kotor’s ‘Sea Gate’ entrance...

 

 

…the visitor is immediately greeted by the tower of the Town Clock…

 

 

Erected in 1602, the square served as the focal point of the town and the rather ornate pyramid just in front of the tower once served as the pillory. From the main ‘Arms Square’ four streets lead into the urban maze of Old Kotor.

 

Each to their own on what to do and see as one walks or ventures into the maze that is Kotor. Churches, a Cathedral, restaurants, cafes and bars, as well as plenty of shopping are all available. But for us there was a challenge.

 

High above Kotor Old Town, a stretch of ancient defensive walls culminate in the Fortress of St. John: for the intrepid Solents, this was a target…

 

The walls were built gradually between the 9th and 19th Centuries and form a continuous belt around the old urban centre and the sheer cliffs of the hill of St John,  which stands over the town. They stretch for a circumference of some  4.5 kilometres though the length of the main ascents is around 1,200 metres (3937 feet) with some 1,350 steps. From the leaflet, given on admission,  the height  to the castle is given as 260 metres (850 ft)  above sea level.

 

Access is gained via a narrow street that leads from the Church of St. Mary…

 

 

*****

 

…and on to the pay desk where entrance is a reasonable €3.00….

 

 

And so the climb begins…

 

The first real place of interest on the hike, and a welcome rest area if the sun is high, is the Church of our Lady of Remedy…

 

 

Seen here from a slightly higher position with the added bonus of watching the ‘Grand Celebration’ arriving alongside…

 

 

Along the way there are plenty of enterprising Montenegrins selling bottled water and soft drinks…

 

 

 

 

About the halfway mark….

 

 

…and it’s easier to look back at the Church of Our Lady of Remedy (low centre in red circle)…

 

 

Closer to the actual fortress we came across a number of interesting portals…

 

and the zig-zag pathways you don’t get to see from below with our ship, Ventura, in the background…

 

Till eventually we reach the top…

 

and can admire the stunning view

 

 

while keeping an eye on Ventura’s busy tender routine…

 

 

The return journey also proved rewarding, particularly from a photographer’s point of view and offered an opportunity to capture the Church of Our Lady of Remedy in greater profile…

 

 

…as well as the interior….

 

 

The return hike took us around  2 hours of  moderate effort and was deemed well worth the effort and time. Best advice though would be to attempt it before mid afternoon when the sun can be pretty blistering.

 

We arrived back in the Old Town still with time to spare for further exploration which included a look at St. Tryphon’s Cathedral…

 

…and the Maritime Museum…

 

The tender jetty is but a short walk from the Old Town.

 

We had  booked our tour through http://www.cruisingexcursions.com at a cost of £84.00 for the two of us. It was very good value and recommended without hesitation.

Kotor is definitely a port worth visiting and is accessible to all levels of physical activity. That hike and the stunning views are something else though.

 

 

**************

 

 

 

 

6 responses to “One Way to do Kotor

  1. Absolutely amazing and stunning views. Never been but definitely on the ‘bucket list’ – don’t think I could do that climb though. You are both fantastically fit! Again photos superb!

  2. What an amazing looking place and such wonderful stunning views. Made all the better as SR has a great knack with his camera to catch the right moment. Great review also . I have wanted to go to Kotor for a few years now. I really must try to fit it in soon. Wonderful and thank you for sharing with us.

  3. Pingback: Cruising Mates | Solent Richard's Cruise Blog·

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