Daily Archives: March 13, 2018

Budva Montenegro

13Mar

Extensive archaeological evidence places Budva among the oldest urban settlements of the Adriatic coast. Substantial documentary evidence provides historical references dating back to the 5th century BC.

Illyrian helmet from Budva (4th century BC)

The Old town in 1615.
A legend recounts that Bouthoe (Βουθόη – Vouthoe) was founded by Cadmus, the founder of Thebes, Greece, when exiled out of Thebes, finding a shelter in this place for him and his wife, goddess Harmonia.

Greek colonization of Adriatic began in 4th century BC, when an Emporium was established on the site of Budva. In the 2nd century BC, the area of Budva became part of the Roman Empire. Upon the fall of the Empire and its division into east and west, the defensive barrier which separated the two powers happened to run across this area, subsequently making a lasting impact on the history and culture of this town.

In the 6th century, Budva was part of the Byzantine Empire, and in the following two centuries, Slavs and, to a lesser extent, Avars began to arrive in the area, mixing with the native Roman population. Budva bay was reportedly known as Avarorum sinus (Avar bay’) during the Avar incursions. In 841, Budva was sacked by Muslim Saracens, who devastated the area.

In the early Middle Ages, Budva was reigned by a succession of Doclean kings, as well as Serbian and Zetan aristocrats.

The Venetian walls of Budua (Budva) on a 1900 postcard
Circa 1200, it became the see of a Roman Catholic Diocese of Budua, which lasted until 1828 and was nominally revived as a Latin titular bishopric. The Venetians ruled the town for nearly 400 years, from 1420 to 1797. Budva, called Budua in those centuries, was part of the Venetian Republic region of Albania Veneta and was fortified by powerful Venetian walls against Ottoman conquests. According to the historian Luigi Paulucci in his book “Le Bocche di Cattaro nel 1810” (The Bay of Kotor in 1810), most of the population spoke the Venetian language until the beginning of the 19th century. One of the most renowned theater librettists and composers, Cristoforo Ivanovich, was born in Venetian Budua.

With the fall of Republic of Venice in 1797, Budva came under the rule of the Habsburg Monarchy. During the Napoleonic Wars, Montenegrin forces allied with Russia took control over the city in 1806, only to relinquish the city to France in 1807. French rule lasted until 1813, when Budva (along with Boka Kotorska) was ceded to the Austrian Empire, which remained in control of the city for the next 100 years.

A union of Boka Kotorska (and Budva) with Montenegro took place for a brief period (1813–1814), but from 1814 until the end of World War I in 1918, Budva remained under Austria-Hungary. The southernmost fortress in the Austro-Hungarian empire, Fort Kosmač, was constructed nearby to guard the road from Budva to Cetinje. After the war, the Serbian army entered Budva after it was abandoned by Austrian forces and it came under the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.

In 1941, with the beginning of World War II, Budva was annexed by the Kingdom of Italy. Budva was finally liberated from Axis rule on 22 November 1944 and incorporated in the Socialist Republic of Montenegro (which was a part of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia).

A catastrophic earthquake struck Budva on 15 April 1979. Much of old town was devastated, but today there is little evidence of the catastrophe – almost all the buildings were restored to their original form.

Montenegro became an independent country in 2006, with Budva as its primary tourist destination.

— in Budva

The Old Town of Kotor

13Mar

The Old Town of Kotor lay in the shadows of the fearsome St. John’s Hill and the walls protecting this town are a fortification masterpiece at up to 15 meters wide and 20 meters high each. These walls are skillfully crafted into the natural steep slopes of the hill and the view of this town on approach is one of the amazing sights, not only of the Mediterranean, but of the world.

A person’s first look at Kotor, whether from the sea or from the road, always leaves a strong impression. Kotor is unique for several reasons. It is located on the only natural fjord of its kind in the world and in a bay that has made the list of Most Beautiful Bays in the World. But visiting Kotor is about more than beautiful views—it’s also about experiencing the cultural heritage of Boka Kotorska Bay.

While there is no accurate information regarding the founding of Kotor, archaeologists believe that it rose on the foundations of the ancient city of Acruvium. Legend has it that Alkima, a fairy, advised the Serbian king, Stefan Dusan, not to build his town in the hills “where boats don’t have a harbor and where horses run about”, but to instead build near the sea. In Phoenician myth, the town was founded after Argonauts’ conquest for the Golden Fleece.

Whichever story might be correct, it is believed that the roots of Kotor stretch back before Homer (10-12 BCE), a time when Phoenicians ruled the Mediterranean. This means that Kotor is an ancient city, as old as the sea trade in the Adriatic.

Kotor has been known under many names throughout history—among them Katareo, followed by Dekatera, Dekaderon and Katarum, among others. Archaeologists have confirmed that between the 7th and 4th centuries BCE, the first settlers to Kotor were Greek, followed by Illyrians and then Romans, who ruled the area for 650 years. The town was demolished by the Visigoths in the 5th century AD and later became a part of the Byzantine Empire in 476 AD, and remained under this power for more than 400 years. Kotor became the capital of Boka Kotorska Bay in the 7th century AD after the former capital at Risan fell to attacks by the Slovenian tribes. The Slovenian tribes also dominated Kotor around the 10th and 11th centuries AD when the area was ruled by Doklea and Zeta.

Kotor was at its most prosperous as a Serbian state during the Nemanjić dynasty of 1185-1371. During this time, Kotor was an independent state that lived by its own bylaw. The Serbian ruler, Stefan Nemanja established a palace in the town.
When the turks defeated Nemanja, Kotor fell into crisis as the people recognized three different rulers: the Hungarian king, the Venetian Republic and the Bosnian King Tvrtko. And from 1391 to 1420, Kotor was once again an independent state, with a duke serving as its head master.

The town changed head masters several times before accepting Venetian rule in 1420—the Venetians ruled Kotor until 1797. This relationship proved mutually beneficial because the Venetians provided protection to Kotor, but during the Ottoman raid, Kotor provided protection to the Venetians with its high walls.

From 1797 to 1814, Kotor fell into another period of transition, with Austria taking over in 1797, followed by Russia in 1806 and France from 1808 to 1813. When the French rule collapsed in 1813, Metropolitan Petar I Petrovic unified Boka Kotorska with Montenegro, although the area spent much of the next 100 years under Austrian rule. In 1918, Boka Kotorska and Montenegro became part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.

There are three entrances to the Old Town, including the Sea Gate of 1555 which serves as the main door. Huddled underneath the rocks of Mt Lovćen, bordered from the north by a short but violent river Škurda and to the west by an underwater spring Gurdić, Kotor (after the earthquake in 1667) has all the features of a Baroque town.

The layers of history prove that construction of palaces and dwellings was not the only skill in this town. Seafaring, as well as artistry, weaponry and goldsmithing were equally popular trades in Kotor. Even the Bishop of Montenegro Njegoš mentioned Kotor in his famous poem “The Mountain Wreath” when he wrote “… at sea lots of craftsmen…”
Today, Kotor is on UNESCO’s list of world heritage sights due to its yield of historic figures including Fra Vito—the architect of the Monastery Dečani, Lovro Marinov Dobričević—icon painter, as well as countless sea captains, diplomats, publishers and poets. In addition, this town preserves another unique feature—it is the only town where the tradition of seafaring unity prevailed and continues on! The Bokeljska mornarica (Navy of Boka Kotorska Bay) has been active for more than twelve centuries and still uses its original traditional admiral, clothing, dance and ceremonies.
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Kotor is also unique because it is the only town on the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea to be located by name in historic and strategic maps. Old Kotor was built like a maze for protective purposes and it is very easy to get lost here. In fact, even the locals get lost. Take on wrong turn and you will wind up far from your destination. This can happen even with a town map in hand. However, looking for landmarks, such as the 12th century St. Tryphon Cathedral, will help—and these landmarks are listed on nearly every tourist map. What can be more difficult is finding places like the Maritime Museum, which is located inside the Grgurina Palace, or finding public squares with funny names such as the Lattice Square, Flour Square, Milk Square and Cinema Square.

For tourists, Kotor should be more than simply a one-day visit. However, if you’re pressed for time, the best way to see as much of the town as possible is to start at the main gate and work clockwise. From the main Arms Square, you will go right across the Flour Square to the Cathedral, then left to the Maritime Museum, straight on to the square housing the Churches of St. Luka and St. Nikola and then left, which will lead you back to where you started from.

Then God created Montenegro

13Mar

 

 

The Romantic poet Lord Byron famously put it thus: “At the moment of the creation of our planet, the most beautiful merging of land and sea occurred at the Montenegrin seaside… When the pearls of nature were sworn, an abundance of them were strewn all over this area.”

Whether or not you believe in divinity, it’s hard to disagree with either Byron as you drive round the Bay of Kotor. It looks a bit like a mash-up of Lake Como and Norway’s Geirangerfjord, with a few mini Dubrovniks scattered around the water. Once called Europe’s southernmost fjord, the bay – all steel-blue water and steep cliffs – is actually a ria, a submerged river canyon (fjords are created by glaciers). But, whatever – all you need to know is that it’s stunning.

Tiny Kotor, which has been an important port since Roman times, revolves around a gorgeous old medieval town made up of pretty squares, churches and old limestone captain’s houses. Now a UNESCO World Heritage site, the main influence since its formation in 535 AD has been the Venetians, who ruled for the best part of 400 years, when it became a centre for shipping and Renaissance literature. But while it’s considered the best-preserved old town on the Adriatic, it’s changed hands too many times to list, and been tossed about a bit – plundered by Saracens in 840 AD, damaged under the First Bulgarian Empire, besieged by the Ottomans, attacked by the British Empire and destroyed by an earthquake in 1979. It was rebuilt completely, and you wouldn’t know half the town lay in rubble. If there’s any negative to it, it’s the same issue you’ll find in any beautiful Balkan old town: tourists, and lots of them, many dawdling around with earpieces and blank expressions.”

It’s little wonder the tourists come, and they says Kotor has more to offer than Dubrovnik, the more famous old town an hour and a half up the coast in Croatia. “Kotor’s much older, more original and more charming. We’ve got six 12th-century churches here; the Dubrovnik cathedral was built in the 17th century.”

Perhaps dating back to the Sophia Loren days, high-end hotels in Montenegro tend to measure themselves by the celebrities who’ve stayed there – the Wikipedia page of Hotel Splendid, the five-star option in tourist-y Budva down the coast, has a whole section devoted to famous guests, from Brad and Angelina to the Rolling Stones.

Attracting foreign superstars seems to be a bit of a theme. The following day we head to the nearby town of Tivat and the new Porto Montenegro superyacht marina, which was converted from an old naval shipyard in 2006 by Canadian billionaire Peter Munk, and a glamorous consortium of Rothschilds and Arnaults. It’s a staggering sight – hundreds of superyachts that make Saint-Tropez look like a small-fry harbour.

 

Still, Montenegro’s far more than bling. Probably the most picturesque spot on the bay is tiny, perfectly preserved Perast, overlooked by the islets of St George and Our Lady of the Rocks. Strict planning laws have kept the baroque palaces and cobbled alleys almost perfectly intact, including Dublin, which is surely the world’s most beautiful Irish pub.

 

And this is the thing about the Bay of Kotor in 2014. Locals say Montenegro has to develop – it needs motorways (there are currently none) and more hotels – but then you only have to see the built-up seaside resort of Budva just half an hour down the coast to see the high-rise perils of misguided development (“At least the girls there are pretty”. Either way, it’s a fascinating time to visit – and whatever you think Montenegro should do with its natural and historical treasures, you won’t be in any doubt that God has done his bit.

Paragliding

13Mar

Montenegro is also suitable for paragliding, as a young sport, in which flight you can enjoy a beautiful view. Paraglider ride starts at 760 meters altitude airfields Brajići. Controlling the paraglider with the help of an instructor in a tandem flight, you will have the opportunity to enjoy a memorable and magical views of the Budva Riviera, the paraglidingis interesting locations Vrmac above Kotor, with an altitude of 550 meters. Attractive take-off is also above Herceg Novi, at Dizdarica located at 850 mi in Zelenika or Igalo on the coast, and from Lovcen from which you descend to 1660 meters in only 20 m / nm. Camps for paragliders are organized in Zabljak.

Montenegro pearl of the Mediterranea

13Mar
Montenegro is situated in the south Adriatic Sea, in a small area in which are gathered: sea with beautiful beaches, rivers with unique canyons, clear lakes and giant mountains. Such beauty is breathtaking and every traveler remains eternally in love with Montenegro. In the morning you can wake up on the beautiful Adriatic coast, have lunch on the lake, and enjoy the evening walking in the mountains. Montenegro will not leave you indifferent. Montenegro is certainly one of the most interesting places in the world. Even though it covers just around 14.000 km2 andit only has about 670.000 citizens, its contribution to world cultural heritage is of great importance. During the centuries of its rich history Montenegro has survived and remained one of the brightest examples of fight for freedom and for its own existence and location of which people always spoke with respect. Christian, Muslim, Ilyrian, Byzantine, Turkish, and Slavcivilizations merged here making Montenegro a crossroad of culture and history. Montenegro has changed its name many times. From the Latin community called Prevalis, through the medieval state of Zeta, to the modern Montenegro. Thanks to civilizations that remained in this country for a shorter or longer period of time, Montenegro turned into a mosaic of cultural heritage.
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