Kotor, located on the Bay of Kotor in Montenegro, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a medieval fortified town. Misty mountains serve as its backdrop, and within the city's walls, churches, palaces, squares, and other features make Kotor a pleasant stop on your tour of Southeastern Europe.
Exploring Kotor, you can enjoy this intriguing walled city's twisting streets, asymmetrical squares, and ancient structures in a couple of hours.
Bay of Kotor
The Bay of Kotor is a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site that includes the town, its fortifications, and the surrounding area.
The Bay of Kotor is known as Boka Kotorska locally.
Kampana Tower, Kotor
Kotor's walls surround the town and wind their way up the mountain behind the city. This waterfront tower is part of the city's fortification.
Many of Kotor's defensive structures date from the time of Venetian rule. The towers and walls that surround Kotor are a part of its identity - the walls and other fortifications extend up onto the Mountain of St. John, where a castle and other structures have also been built.
These structures are in various states of repair. An earthquake in 1979 damaged parts of Kotor; age and other factors have also played a part in the degradation of the fortifications' integrity. However, UNESCO funding has helped preserve Kotor and increasing interest by tourists is encouraging for the future maintainance of this historic city.
Sea Gate, Kotor
The Sea Gate, or West Gate, of Kotor is one of the walled city's entrances.
The Sea Gate dates from the 16th century. It is the main entrance to the walled city of Kotor. After you pass through the gates, you will enter onto the main square, and the the Rector's Palace will be behind you.
Kotor's Main Square
The Square of Arms is named after the presence of the arsenal.
Enter Kotor's main square after passing through the Sea Gate on the west side of the town. Here, you'll see the former arsenal, the theater building, the Rector's Palace, and the clock tower.
Tower of the City Guard
The Tower of the City Guard is located on the Square of Arms and is connected to the Ducal Palace.
Napoleon's Theater, or the French Theater, is located on the north end of the Ducal Palace.
The French Theater, also called Napoleon's Theater, was built in 1810. After serving as a theater, it then became the town hall, and now it is part of a hotel.
Hotels in Kotor
Kotor Clock Tower
Kotor's Clock Tower, opposite the Sea Gate, dates from the early 17th century.
The Clock Tower in Kotor is a three-story building with two clock faces. On its facade is the crest from the ruling prince of the time. In front of the clock tower is a "pillar of shame" where local criminals were once tied as punishment.
Beskuca Palace, Kotor
Beskuca Palace is decorated with a Gothic Portal.
The most striking aspect of the Beskuca palace, which is situated between the main square and Flour Square, is its Gothic portal.Interestingly, it is assumed that the portal was original to another building, and that it was assimilated into the design of the Beskuca family palace. The portal depicts images relating to another family, the Bizanti family - though damaged, it is possible to identify the figure of a lion. A Bizanti family palace is also preserved in Kotor.
A legend surrounding the Beskuca family, whose name means "homeless," tells of a count, who, after amassing wealth and properties, wanted to change his family's name to Stokuca, meaning "one-hundred houses." Apparently, the count failed to accumulate 100 houses, falling short of this number by only one.
Flour Square, Kotor
Flour Square is named after the flour storehouse that used to exist here.
Today, the Buca and Pima Palaces are main features of Flour Square, or Trg od Brasna.
Buca Palace, Kotor
Buca Palace, from the 14th and 15th centuries, was once a family palace.
Now Buca palace is a hotel.
Hotels in Kotor's Old Town
Renaissance and Baroque style architecture can be seen in the 17th century Pima Palace in Kotor.
This palace, built in 1667, once belonged to the Pima family. Situated on Flour Square, its detailed facade is a recognizable feature of Kotor.
Karampana Fountain, Kotor
This fountain was once a center of city life.
Gossip, news, and other information was traded as the townsfolk of Kotor came to the well - the only source of fresh water in Kotor in the past - to gather water for their daily needs. The decorative metalwork on the fountain is from the Baroque era and is an interesting stop on your tour of Kotor.
Church of St. Michael
The single nave church of St. Michael was built towards the end of the 14th century - beginning of the 15th century.
Today the church is home to Kotor's lapidarium.
Tree in Kotor
This old tree stands in an out-of-the way location in Kotor beside a church-turned-cinema.
Church of Our Lady of Angels
Kotor's Church of Our Lady of Angels is now a cinema.
Find the Church of Our Lady of Angels in the courtyard with the old tree.
The Grgurin Palace, located on Museum Square, is the Maritime Museum of Kotor.
Alley in Kotor
A collection of architectural artifacts has been arranged in this alley off of one of Kotor's streets.
Cathedral of St. Tryphon
The Cathedral of St. Tryphon is an important religious structure in Kotor.
The Cathedral of St. Tryphon dates to the 12th century; it replaced an older church built in the 8th century. The structure of the cathedral was damaged in an earthquake in the 17th century, which partially contributes to the addition of different architectural styles to the cathedral's facade.
St. Tryphon Cathedral is one of Kotor's most recognizable structures. Its two bell towers help identify its importance. Inside the cathedral are 14th century frescoes and treasures from Kotor's past. This regal structure was built in honor of the city's patron saint and protector.
St. Tryphon Square, Kotor
Find the Cathedral of St. Tryphon on St. Tryphon Square.
On St. Tryphon Square, you will also see the Town Command, the Historic Archives of Kotor, Drago Palace, and the Bishopric.
Kotor Town Hall
Kotor's Town Hall is located on the south end of St. Tryphon's Square. It dates from the 19th century.
Church of St. Luke
The Church of St. Luke dates from the 12th century.
The Church of St. Luke, the main feature of St. Luke's square, is a late 12th century church with Romanesque and Byzantine elements. This well-preserved church has two alters - one for Orthodox use and one for Catholic use. Only fragments of the original interior frescoes remain.
Church of St. Nicholas
The Orthodox Church of St. Nicholas dates from the early 20th century and occupies a position on St. Luke's Square.
Church of the Monastery of St. Clare
The Franciscan monastery church dates from the 18th century and can be found near St. Luke's Square.
Meneghello House is a building from the 19th century that has been converted for modern use.
Bjeladinovic House is a house from the 19th century that has been converted for modern use.
Lombardic Palace, Kotor
Once used as a Russian consulate, this 18th century Baroque palace is located on St. Luke's Square.
The Grubonja Palace offers some interesting architectural detail.
Lions' heads hold up the sills of the windows on the Grubonja Palace. A strange stone skull relief can also be noticed on its street-facing facade (see next photo).
Grubonja Palace Detail
Notice the stone skull detail on the front of the Grubonja Palace. This may have once belonged to the Kotor's medieval-era pharmacy.
Entrance to Fortress, Kotor
This gate signals the way to the fortress on the mountain.
Climbing the treacherous stone stairs and picking your way over the rocky terrain to visit the parts of Kotor's defense system on the mountain should be done with great care - and it will take you more than an hour to reach the top! However, you can view Kotor's fortifications as a whole from afar, and this scene lends Kotor an air of mystery.
Church of Our Lady of Remedy
This church is perched on the slop of St. John Mountain.
Dating from 1518, the Church of Our Lady of Remedy can be seen from afar. The fortifications of Kotor should only be visited by those with a good pair of walking shoes and plenty of determination - the rocky terrain and the stairs that lead to the structures on the slope mean that visiting the castle, church, and towers outside of the main part of the city can be done only if you have plenty of time to spare. However, the Church of Our Lady of Remedy is visible through a camera's zoom (or binoculars, if you have them). This church adds to the mystery and beauty of Kotor, though if you want to visit Kotor churches, there are several fine examples on the ground.
Castle of St. John
The Castle of St. John, or Giovanni, is located on a mountain of the same name.
The Castle of St. John occupies a location that has been fortified in some manner for centuries. The current fortifications date from Venetian rule in the 15th century. The castle is only one part of the fortification of Kotor. The walls travel down the mountain of St. John and surround the city, where towers and other defense structures have historically provided protection for residents and buildings.
Kotor's fortifications are under UNESCO World Heritage protection, along with the bay and the town itself. However, buildings within the town have been better preserved than the precariously perched fortifications on the mountain, and the path to these fortifications is not well maintained.