Port of Old World Charm
By Larry Larsen
"What belongs to others, we don't want. What is ours we will never surrender." This statement is
carved over one of the original medieval doors into old Kotor, and it clearly describes the spirit and the history of this small nation.
Four centuries of Venetian domination gave Kotor one of the best preserved medieval "old towns" in the Adriatic. Built in 1166, the city's Old Town is
home to numerous sights, such as the Cathedral of Saint Tryphon and the ancient walls which stretch for almost 3 miles along the mountain
directly above the city. The fortifications surrounding the entire old town are themselves impressive, up to 45 feet wide and 60 feet high.
Visitors are treated to memorable sights when arriving there by cruise ship. The ships traverse 17 miles of a long, narrow bay between imposing
mountains to finally reach this beautiful little city. If you're in the mood for walking (and fairly fit), take the imposing hike up the "switch-back" oriented city
walls along the steep mountain behind the town. The scenery is impressive, to be expected.
Strolling through the ancient walled town and its narrow passageways is certainly a unique experience. The 7 century old streets and
walkways were built as a labyrinth on purpose to confuse enemies. Visitors today can take a walking tour (you will get lost anyway) by entering the main gate and working clockwise
through old town. From the main Arms Square, go to Flour Square to the Cathedral, then left to the Maritime Museum. From here you can see the square that houses the Churches of St. Luka and
St. Nikola and much more medieval architecture. You'll discover more churches, museums, monuments, restaurants and a few shops between the thick walls.
The scenic port reminds us of one of the fijords of
Norway and their marinas are numerous. Naval history is particularly prevalent in Kotor, and in fact, it is the only town in Montenegro where the
tradition of seafaring unity continues. The Navy of Boka Kotorska Bay has been active for more than twelve centuries and still uses its original traditional regalia, dance and ceremonies.
Despite the growing tourism especially from cruise ships, Kotor retains an old world charm barely
influenced by the visitors. You won't see tacky tourist shops or hawkers around the ship port "outdoor terminal" or in the old city for that matter. And that's kind of nice!