“Montenegro in Kotor, Living in a Medieval Fortress”

I woke up looking out our window from our hotel room, gazing at the glass-smooth stones that make up the streets of the Kotor castle.  Cats and pigeons were watching the early workers cleaning the streets and disposing the trash. 

The city has changed so much over time. Now, all the shops and restaurants serve the throngs of tourist who come here to see the glory of this living fort. People lived here in the tenth century as this is the old city. Living inside the protected medieval fortress walls, must have been a site to see. If only we could see; or better yet, travel back in time.

Yesterday we started our day visiting several old villages, but first we wanted to get photos from a scenic road that rises high above Kotor. We got some nice photos, but not of the fortress, for we could not see it. We drove for hours on tiny roads with switchbacks and hairpin turns. The view of the castle evaded us. 

There were several villages we passed, but most were ruins. Others with lonely people for not much was around. We had driven to the very top, which was a fairly flat area with many homesteads; most with their shutters closed. We tried for some time to find points of interest that we had chosen, but the roads are not marked well and the maps did not help. 

At one point this cop pulled us over and gave a whole speech until we said English, please; we are Americans. Before we could finish, he motioned us to go. This was the second time this has happened in Montenegro. On the way back out, the cop was in the same place.  He had pulled over someone else and they were out of their car. This is how not speaking the language is an advantage. Probable cause is not a requirement to pull over a driver. These countries it’s at will.

We had enough of driving in half circles, so we started to go back to Kotor for some photos. I asked how much to enter the city. The ticket lady said it was free, now. Three years ago they charged. We thought, why not go in? We were glad we did. We had been here before but in a rush, three years ago with a tour. On this day, it was even more fun, as as we found several areas that we had not explored in our haste. Being on a tour when still employed had its advantages, too, but now we have more time to explore. Things are also very different now. Talking about different, as COVID has made the streets empty, but a perfect photography experience. At the same time, it is sad, as all the shops and restaurants are almost empty. They lack the income.

After having our iced coffee; our almost daily treat, we walk around taking photos. We had passed a hotel, and I said let’s check it out. We went in and ask for the price, and a discount which was given. The  room looked so nice. A short glance into my Bunny’s eyes, we said we would take it. 

Living inside the walls of the fort is so nice, because every hour, the church bells rings in the new time. The clicking of shoes on the stone walkways of the old city streets are distant sounds we hear from our window. We have always wanted to stay in a castle, so we could experience the laughter and soft conversations of fellow humans. 

It was sad to leave, but the expedition must continue on. Life is so hard for an expeditionist, as time is ticking and new adventures await.

I love this woman so much

“Montenegro, Leaving Kotor Fortress and Exploring the Coast”

As I was packing up, the last thing I saw out of our hotel window was a pair of pigeons loving on each other. The male was cooing his wife and massaging her neck as he spoke sweet nothings into her ear. They stayed there for some time; even when we left with our luggage, they were still perched on their favorite sign holder. 

Our expectations were high, as we set out for parts unknown. We had tried but failed to find the unknown on occasion. Many attempts are managed and routes rerouted, until we may or may not find the fruits of our desires. We said we were done looking for churches, but like an addiction, look for our next fix, we seek out the most interesting. More thought has been put into church designs than the boxy home or warehouse.  

As we approach a church, the architecture and probability that the doors are unlocked races our hearts. Grabbing the door handle, or pushing on the door and failing to secure a glimpse, a photo or walk where many a person have searched for solace with a higher power moves us. We settle for architectural photo and views on high. I find myself by the church bells with the ropes in my hands. I want to pull and ring the bell. The village will hear, I don’t give in. Wishing it was at the hour so I could ring out the time, but even that excuse eludes me as I don’t know the time. 

We drive for hours clinging to the edge of the road for safety. The coastal waters are just inches away on our drive. Road warriors demanding more than their share of the road, make us weary. The views lifts us above the road in a sense, calming us; for, who gets to do this. Driving during the summertime is a formidable task in the best of times. These are not the best of times. Health concerns keep people shuttered in their homes, not venturing out past the sanctity of their abode.

We are truly grateful we get to go where only the adventurous go, to search out new destinations. We relentlessly go up numerous roads to dead ends. 

A medieval stone-lined street is our destination, in a town called Risan. We walk down the slippery stones past shells of buildings and some reworked, into modern living areas. We smell the homemade bread and stews wafting down the lane as we pass. I stop after walking most of the way to retrieve our car and make a video as I descend to a coffee shop for our iced coffee. 

We set out for more pristine destinations. Perast, Stoliv, Prcanj, Herceg Novi and some other places I can not pronounce. Most are next to the sea. The roads are close to the water, as most all the land rises quickly. The mountains are like the maverick drivers, pushing for every inch of the countryside.

Out in the bay, we see Our Lady of the Rock Church. We see it from every angle, as we drive on both sides of the bay finding the little villages we seek. Three years ago, we took a boat to the island and explored every inch as it is very small. Wonderful memories everyone should see, if one can.

The day is ending and we grew tired. We looked for a hotel close to a castle in our final town visit. I never said we were done going to castles. The intrigue of getting a glimpse into the past, lures us. We secure our stay for two days to catch up in a few areas, and rest. We also need to give some thought to our next adventure in Serbia. 

“Montenegro 🇲🇪 ~The Beautiful Kotor!”

Anxious to get out of the hotel and on the road, before the scorching time of the July afternoon, our first plan was to travel to the top of the Lovcen Mountains in search of some vista views over the lovely town of Kotor.

While we found the road to take us up, we did not find the road that would take us up and over the actual Kotor Fortress. But, the views we did see were spectacular! The road is another Panoramic Road, and very narrow and curvy. Its a good road, but both of us are getting very weary of the drivers who drive in the center of the narrow road, and take the hairpin turns on our side; coming at us! It’s unnerving! We go ever so slow turning the corners, just in case. Our technique on the more visible roadway, is to stop on our side of the road; over as far as the edges will let us, as they pass. That way, if there is an accident, it would them hitting us, while we were stopped.

After our drive up, we had plans to visit an old village, which we never found after 1.5 hours. As I had mentioned before, the spelling of locations can be difficult, and while we thought we were heading for Risan, we ended up in Resna. Oh well, we saw some small villages that were very pretty, up on the top of the mountain, too. It all worked out, because we ended up not going very far from Kotor, after all. This would turn out to be a very good thing!

Kotor
Do you see the road we drove up? It’s the one shaped like a serpent!
Here is both sides of Kotor; known as Kotor Municipality. On the left, you can see the airport runway. What a spectacular landing and take off from this airport would be!
The votive church, “Our Lady of Health.” was built in response to a number of plagues in the mid-15th century. This structure in the foreground with the mountains and Bay of Kotor in the background provides the most iconic shot of the area.
At the top of Lovćen Mountain!
I so loved this remote location. It looks like a painting or a post card. This location is Near or at Kucista.
Near or at Jegusi

So, we decided to go back down into Kotor Old Town, and get a few pictures, before we headed to more towns and villages on the coast. We had not planned on returning to the Kotor Fortress, having been there three years ago, BUT we love this Fort. Its a Living Fortress, after all, and there are very few of them left in the world.

It all started with;

“Lets ask how much the tickets are to enter.” ANSWER: Free.

Next, we said:

“Lets go inside and get our iced coffee and sit for a bit.”

Which turned into a conversation of;

“There are so few people in the Fort, it might be fun to walk around again and check it out”

Finally, we were having so much fun, and seeing parts of the Fort we had not see before, we said;

“Lets look into spending one night inside the Fort in one of the hotels.”

We inquired and though it was double from our 30 euro budget, we splurged. Normally reservations for such a night would be booked far in advance, but not during a pandemic summer; plenty of rooms were available. In fact, all of them! When you get to spend the night inside a Fort it is a true bucket list item! We almost did the same thing in Jaisalmer, India, in their Living Fort, a few years ago, but as cool that Fort is, they have a bit of a water leaking issue and mould is a problem. We had to pass.

So here we are tonight, spending the night inside an ancient Fortress. Its quaint and cozy. We have breakfast included in the morning. Air Conditioning that works great. We also have the working Wifi we have had in a month! The building is really old, but it has been modernised for sure

Yes Please!

Marija Hotel. We recommend!
Our view!
Both a highly defensible and extremely desirable location in the Mediterranean, armies have been fighting for this area as far back as the Illyrium era in the 4th century.
Today’s look begins to take shape in the latter 1400’s with the Venetians and Ottoman Turks taking turns defending the opposite sides a few times. The Austrians were the last to man the Fortress as a defence position after their defeat in World War I
Other world stage events here include the Axis Forces taking control of the area during World War II.
Main gate of Old Kotor Town (Fortress)
Located on a beautiful bay on the coast of Montenegro, Kotor is a city steeped in tradition and history, with remarkable scenic views. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the old city was built between the 12th and 14th centuries and is filled with medieval architecture and historic monuments.
Inside! We sat on the right and discussed our plans.
You can see this is quite a large Fortress

The history of Kotor also notes natural catastrophes.

Several earthquakes have hit Kotor. Those earthquakes took place in: 1537, 1563, 1667, 1729, and 1979. Kotor also survives years when the world was surrounded by a contagious disease; theplague in: 1422, 1427, 1457, 1467, and 1572.

From 1797 to 1805 Kotor is a part of the Austrian empire. In 1806 year Russians come to Kotor. They governed the town only for a year, until 1807. The French soon menace Kotor. As the Russian army was defeated by the French, in the battle near Fridland, Russian with a secret contract give Kotor to France, which rules over Kotor from 1807 until 1813.

Montenegrin ruler Petar I Petrovic helped the people from Kotor in September of 1813. At that time, Montenegrins and people from Boka (the other name for people from Kotor) fought together against the French Monarchy. So at that time, there came a certain union of Boka and former Montenegro. However, that union lasted only for nine months, because Paris Peace Congress, which was held in 1814, didn’t acknowledge that union. So, after that conference (Boka with its surrounding) was given to Austria (1814 – 1918).

A one hundred year old reign of Austria over Kotor, was marked by numerous rebellions, and uprisings by the people from Boka Kotorska. The liberation of Austria Kotor finally happened in 1918.

As all other towns of former Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenians, Kotor, which was exhausted by numerous occupations, awaited the biggest war ever fought; WW II, in the year 1941.

Kotor experiences liberation from the Nazi control in November 1944.

Kotor is more than two thousand years old, and its name stems from the word Dekatera (from the old Greece katareo – meaning HOT). The written sources mention the “Upper Town.” which refers to the oldest part; on the top of the hill; Sveti Ivan St John, which is located above Kotor. The “Lower Town,” represent Old town Kotor.
The rich history of Kotor, is parallel to the rich culture of the town with which many conquerors ruled: the Illyrians, the Venetians, the Austrians, and the French.

First, the town was ruled by the Illyrians (III and II century B.C.). On the other hand the Romans are considered to be the founders of Kotor 168 B.C.– 476 A.D. Kotor was under their reign until the fall of the Roman Empire in 476 A.D under the name Akruvijum.

After the Romans, until the year 1185, Kotor was under the reign of Byzantium. Under the Byzantium reign, Kotor was named Dekaderon.
Kotor Legend
Kotor is a town with many diverse stories and legends. Its almost every part, every stone with which its streets are paved, palaces which surround certain parts of the town, monuments which it has, can tell a very nice story, a true story or some catch. Here is the legend on how Dobrota, which is one of the Kotor districts came to be.
Two travelers, who were traveling around the world, came to the grey sea. As they were already exhausted from the long trip, they sat on some kind of a rock to rest and to refresh themselves. One of them moved a little bit aside and noticed a plaque with some inscription on it. The inscription said: “Measure 10 lengths dig and stop.” When they read that, they wondered what it could be, so they started to guess together what that instruction could mean. At one moment, they came an up with the idea to measure 10 lengths from the plaque, and so they did that. When they measured the required length, they started to dig a small hole in the ground, and they found some kind of a small chest. They started to open it, but to their astonishment, the chest opened by itself.
At the bottom of the chest with golden letters it was written “this is everyone goodness.” For a long time, they thought what they should do;? whether to stay where they are, or to continue their journey? Still, as the message was like some kind of a vow, they stayed in the place where they found the message. At the same location, they quickly made a cottage, and went to sleep.
During the night something very strange happened. From the wooden chest, some new shiny letters glimmered. The new message said: “Wish whatever you want before sleep.” As both of the travelers from the beginning of the story were poor, they wished for nice stone houses and beautiful wives. When they woke up in the morning they were speechless. They saw a white castle and a woman on the window looking towards the sea. They immediately moved into the new home, and continued to live in ease. Since that time, every night before they went to sleep they wished for another nice house, of which every morning one emerged.
That is how Dobrota, near Kotor, was founded.
Stone houses and numerous palaces, which later were built, are the most beautiful details of Dobrota.
The Cathedral of Saint Nicholas
The grand light stone structure with a dome and two belfries is the main Orthodox temple in Kotor. Unlike other Kotor churches, the Cathedral arose in the Old Town relatively recently, at the beginning of the 20th century.
The massive Fortress walls of medieval Kotor, shield romantic stone mansions, narrow streets and churches. Each of these churches has at least one interesting feature that sets it apart from the others.
A tall exquisite iconostasis was created for the temple by the Czech artist named Ziegler
Signage at the back of old town Kotor points you to the routes that lead up to this Fortress, which overlooks the Kotor Fortress 
The Church of St Luke
is a valuable example of Byzantine architecture. The construction began at the end of the 12th century and the contemporary structure is the result of the work of many, many generations. Initially, the church was quite modest, then a dome, a belfry and a chapel graced it up.
This temple served as Catholic and Orthodox at the same time. It was originally built for Catholics, but when the number of Orthodox residents of Kotor increased, a different altar was erected in the church, and both confessions held divine services. Today the building is owned by the Orthodox Church.

The central place in the interior of the temple is the iconostasis. The altar partition itself dates from the 17th century, but the icons on it, are from the 16th-18th centuries.
Another famous landmark of the city is the Sveti Ivan’s Fortress (also known as St. John’s) that towers overhead carved into and at other places jutting out of the mountain.
From the Fortress view; Kotor Bay
This was new from our last visit
The Cathedral of St. Tryphon
first temple in this corner of Kotor rose in 809. Over the years, it was repeatedly expanded and rebuilt. The church suffered several devastating earthquakes, but was lovingly restored every time. Nowadays it is a valuable architectural monument that mixes features of several styles: Romanesque, Renaissance, Baroque.
The interior of the cathedral is also incredible. The stone ornament above the altar, depicting the life of St. Tryphon, is a real wonder!
Today, the church attracts both Orthodox and Catholic believers
Kodor Bay, across from the Fortress
Part of the original moat
A small draw bridge
The original working mechanisms of said drawbridge
Front of Kotor Fort. It’s not a magnificent entrance, but it’s amazing, inside!
I know you just read the sign! 🤣
The kitty is fine, but all the Fort cats were like this, from the heat!