Kotor - The New Monte Carlo
18th February 2015
Think of beautiful port towns and the likes of Monte Carlo and St Tropez are two of the most common answers. Venture further beyond Spain, beyond Italy and just before Greece and you will be greeted by the wonderful but perhaps surprising sight that is Kotor of Montenegro, which sits between Croatia and Albania. Lord Byron was one of many visitors to be astounded by what he encountered in Kotor, saying: "At the moment of birth of our planet, the most beautiful meeting of land and sea was on the Montenegrin coast".
But what can you expect from Kotor? And why is it being dubbed the new Monte Carlo? A journey on board a Star Clippers wind sailing ship may just hold the answer for those curious enough to seek this new secret destination.
The four bays that make up the gulf of Kotor make for an awe inspiring experience and the mountains that greet visitors either side of the coastline help create one of the most beautiful European coastlines. Kotor itself is a wonderfully preserved medieval town that sits within the deepest inlet of a fjord with the 2,000 metre tall Mount Lovcen providing a stunning backdrop. It is this combination of mountains with stunning coastline that creates for many fine vistas that keep the eyes entirely occupied.
Due to its location, it has played a part in the history of Montenegro as a whole – having most recently split from the former Serbia and Montenegro to become an individual nation. Montenegro was first mentioned in 11th century in Vatican documents and has long conjured the image of a remote mountain kingdom – proud and indomitable people with the promise of intrigue and romance.
Inside the bay, this walled city of Kotor has been an integral port of Montenegro since Roman times. The narrow pedestrian streets take tourists to marble flagged squares lined with medieval and Renaissance buildings that blend in with the Pima and Drago palaces and the Cathedral of St Tryphon. The defensive walls that lie behind the cathedral that are 5km long and, in places, 15km thick will take visitors on a journey up the steep rocky hillside to the ruined 14th century fortress of St Ivan. Earthquakes may have struck this fortress and the walls, but yet they still survive and the view from here will take your breath away.
Venture to the central Square of Weapons and see the more modern side of Kotor, with a fine mix of bars, restaurants and designer stores that sit nicely within the historic walls. The city’s natural features also add to the feeling that Kotor is the beginning of something special, with a mix of lemon and orange blossoms, aloes, cacti and palm trees.
Witness Kotor by night and you’ll be dazzled by the glistening Adriatic coast that is slowly becoming more and more filled with the rich and famous that would once travel to Monte Carlo. This secret location has been visited by the likes of Bridget Bardot have been visiting Kotor since the 1960s and it is only now receiving widespread popularity. There are plans to build more berths to accommodate future demand and even plans to construct a copy of Casino Royale.
Still not convinced by everything this hidden gem has to offer? The only way to truly understand is to visit for yourself! Star Clippers operate a number of amazing cruise itineraries around the Mediterranean that will take you to this Montenegrin delight in 2015.