“What belongs to others we do not want, but what is ours we will never surrender.” – Phrase inscribed over the entrance gate to the old city of Kotor
And rightly so, because Montenegro is the coessential Adriatic country that should never fail to impress: on one side, the mountain; on the other, the sea, and in between, little towns and villages are strewn like pearls alongside the picturesque Bay of Kotor. Such is the case with Perast, Kotor and Budva.
The first two are understandably UNESCO World Heritage Sites, while Budva, apart from its awesome beaches, is a city where the urban boom seems to encroach the old city from all directions.
Kotor, the most fascinating of the three, has over 4 kilometers of city walls and fortifications that, in big part, date back the Venetian rule and surround the whole city. The Medieval city is well preserved because –luckily- Montenegro did not suffer heavy bombardment like other ex-Yugoslavian countries (it became an independent country only in 2006).
The dramatic setting of Kotor against elevated mountains creates a perfect backdrop against which all the back streets and alleys seem to vanish into infinity. Add some medieval buildings, pleasant piazzas and great food, and you have just figured out the city’s winning Mediterranean formula.
Then comes Perast, a little gem of a town on the coast that seems to rise from the very waters of the Adriatic, with small colorful boars dancing along the miniature marina. A boat ride to the nearby Island of Our Lady of the Rock is more than just a pleasant voyage: it’s an obligatory visit for two reasons. First, to visit the church and to enjoy fantastic views of the nearby Island of St. George which –somehow- resembles Arnold Böcklin’s painting, The Island of Death. Second, to experience the devotion of the natives who actually built this artificial island using rocks and sunken ships to commemorate the discovery of an icon featuring the Virgin and Child.
One can go on and on, but the photos would do a better job showing the beauties of the Montenegrin urban and natural landscapes.