>>>Kotor, the ex-great unknown

Kotor, the ex-great unknown

It has dominated all the rankings for places to visit in 2016, which is why you have to go, before it gets (even more) fashionable.
J
ames Bond never went to Montenegro. Even so, Hotel Splendido, Kotor, nearly had to put up the fully booked sign following the première of Casino Royale. The lively scenes in the new ‘pearl of the Adriatic’, were actually filmed in the Czech Republic. Howeverm those who journeyed to the hotel in the Bay of Kotor in search of locations from the film were not disappointed. For while there were no traces of agent 007, they found a substitute: a paradise to explore.
Arms Square was named during the Venetian period. It is where they repaired and stored weaponry.
Foto: Nightman1965 / Shutterstock.com

Keeping it in the family

The mill belonging to the Stari Mlini family supplied locals with flour. It was active in the 1700s. Three centuries later, another family has opened a “charming” restaurant next to the mill. It promises gourmet cuisine and views of the bay. Diners at Stari Mlini can also park their boat at the restaurant’s dock.

Shortly after being declared a World Heritage Site, in 1979, an earthquake destroyed a large part of Kotor’s old town. The earthquake lasted just ten seconds, but affected nearly the entire country, which was then part of Yugoslavia. More than 1,600 monuments were damaged. With the assistance of UNESCO, most of its gems were reconstructed. Some of them, like Saint Trifon Cathedral, had already been renovated. This 12th-century Roman church was raised in honour of the patron saint of the city, on a former temple. Radical restoration followed the 1667 earthquake, leaving it with two new Baroque-style towers. The cathedral is a concentration of many of the architectural styles that have modelled the city, and which are testimony to its action-packed history. It was part of the Byzantine Empire, and Justinian I was the one to order construction of its characteristic walls, which are more than 4km long. Its Venetian heritage is also present in the city’s streets, mansions and squares.
Earthquakes and invasions made the historic city centre into a unique labyrinth: a jumbled complex of cobbled streets, craft shops and cafés. Arms Square is the most important, and is home to the Clock Tower. Opposite the tower, you will find Bizanti and Beskuća palaces. Both belonged to wealthy families, even if their fortunes were relatively small small. Count Jozo’s goal in life was to be landlord of 100 homes. It is ironic that his surname Beskuća means homeless. He changed his surname, but even this was not enough for him to realise his dream.
The menu at Stari Mlini restaurant is based on local products and fresh seafood from the Adriatic.
At the highest part of the city walls, reached only by tackling 1,500 steps is the Fort of Sveti Ivan. Its viewpoint affords the best views of Kotor. The red roofs of the houses stand out amid the mountains and sea surrounding them. The fortified city is built on the Bocas de Kotor, a bay that is sometimes known as the largest fjord in southern Europe, although in reality it is not one. Its port stands empty, as yet unnoticed by the big tourist cruises traversing the Dalmatian Coast.
The city is surrounded by mountains, like Lovćen, the monte negro (Spanish for black mountain), which gave its name to the country.
Foto: Ranko Maras

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