Natural and Culturo-Historical Region of Kotor

Boka Kotorska (Bay of Kotor), City of Kotor and surrounding territory, Republic of Montenegro
N42 28 59.988 E18 41 60
Date of Inscription: 1979
Minor boundary modification inscribed year: 2012, 2015
Criteria: (i)(ii)(iii)(iv)
Property : 14,600 ha
Buffer zone: 36,491 ha
Ref: 125ter

In the Middle Ages, this natural harbour on the Adriatic coast in Montenegro was an important artistic and commercial centre with its own famous schools of masonry and iconography. A large number of the monuments (including four Romanesque churches and the town walls) were seriously damaged by the 1979 earthquake but the town has been restored, largely with UNESCO’s help.

Brief synthesis

The Natural and Culturo-Historical Region of Kotor is located in the Boka Kotorska Bay, on the Adriatic coast of Montenegro. The property encompasses the best preserved part of the bay covering its inner south-eastern portion. The inscribed property comprises 14,600 ha with a landscape composed of two interrelated bays surrounded by mountains rising rapidly to nearly 1,500 metres. The property is linked to the rest of the Boka Kotorska Bay through a narrow channel forming the principal visual central axis of the area.

The Outstanding Universal Value of the Culturo-Historical Region of Kotor is embodied in the quality of the architecture in its fortified and open cities, settlements, palaces and monastic ensembles, and their harmonious integration to the cultivated terraced landscape on the slopes of high rocky hills. The Natural and Culturo-Historical Region of Kotor bears unique testimony to the exceptionally important role that it played over centuries in the spreading of Mediterranean cultures into the Balkans.

Criterion (i): It is the gathering on the gulf coast of the monuments of the cities, their harmony with the landscape, and their insertion in town planning of great value that contributes to the Outstanding Universal Value of the property.

Criterion (ii): As the main bridge-heads of Venice on the South coast of the Adriatic, the aristocratic cities of captains and ship-owners of Kotor and its neighbours were the heart of the region’s creative movement for many centuries. Its art, goldsmith and architecture schools had a profound and durable influence on the arts of the Adriatic coast.

Criterion (iii): The successful harmonization of these cities with the Gulf, their quantity, quality and diversity of the monuments and cultural properties, and especially the exceptional authenticity of their conservation, mean that the property can effectively be considered as unique.

Criterion (iv): Kotor and Perast are highly characteristic and authentically preserved small cities enhanced by architecture of great quality. Their town-planning is well adapted to and integrated in the landscape.

Suggested Bases:

Besides being the capital of Montenegro, Podgorica is also the country’s largest city, having a population of some 180,000 people. The city is situated in central Montenegro, in the scarce Montenegrin lowlands between the Dinaric Alps and Lake Scutari. The Podgorica area has been continuously inhabited since the Illyrian and Roman eras, with settlement on the site of today’s Podgorica being firmly established during Ottoman Empire rule. Podgorica was reincorporated in Montenegro in 1878, when the city started to take a more European shape. Nazi and Allied bombings during World War II destroyed much of the historical Ottoman and Montenegro-era Podgorica architecture, and the city was reborn as the capital of Montenegro in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The city was then rebuilt and expanded in a manner typical of Eastern bloc countries, so it is mostly a modern planned city, and by no means a principal sightseeing destination [read more].

Niksic is the second largest city in Montenegro. In Nikšić proper there are a few sites to see but most of the really interesting places are located on the way to or from the city (such as the Ostrog Monastery) [read more].

Pljevlja is a town and the center of Pljevlja Municipality located in the northern part of Montenegro. The city lies at an altitude of 770 m. In the Middle Ages, Pljevlja had been a crossroad of the important commercial roads and cultural streams, with important roads connecting the littoral with the Balkan interior. In 2011, the municipality of Pljevlja had a population of 30,786, while the city itself had a population of about 19,489. The municipality borders those of Žabljak, Bijelo Polje and Mojkovac in Montenegro, as well as the republics of Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina to the east and west respectively. With a total area of 1,346 km2 (520 sq mi), it is the third largest municipality in Montenegro. The first traces of human life in the region date between 50,000 and 40,000 BC, while reliable findings show that the Ćehotina River valley was inhabited no later than 30,000 BC [read more].

8 replies »

  1. The main entrance to the town was constructed in 1555 when the town was under Venetian rule (1420–1797). Visitors should look out for the winged lion of St Mark, Venice’s symbol, which is displayed prominently on the walls here and in several other spots around the town. Also worth taking is the steep path up to the Fortress of San Giovanni, which rewards with spectacular views of the UNESCO World Heritage Old Town below and Europe’s southernmost fjord.


  2. Be warned, it’s easy to get lost wandering around this medieval city, purposefully built like a maze to bewilder invading forces and protect it from attack. Top tip: look out for the city’s main landmarks, like St. Tryphon’s Cathedral and St. Nicolas Church.


  3. Kotor’s Stari Grad (Old Town) is nestled inside fortifications built during the Venetian period and features well preserved churches, charming squares, and informative museums that will take about two hours to explore on foot. The old town is so beautiful and surreal that you wouldn’t be the only one to think you had just stepped into a fairy tale, or on to the set of Game of Thrones.

    The fortifications snake up the steep mountainside above the Old Town to the Castle of San Giovanni (Fortress of St John), also known to the locals as Tvrđave Kotora. Here, at 280 meters above sea level, is the most breathtaking panorama of the electrifying blue fjord and a spectacular bird’s-eye-view of the Old Town’s orange topped buildings below. A walk to the top of the fortress is certainly a must-do on any visit to Montenegro!


  4. I love Kotor i stayed there summer last year for couple of days and i enjoyed wandering around the cobblestone alleyways and hiking up the fortress for the sunset view.


  5. A labyrinth of rambling cobbled streets, hidden plazas and crumbling staircases that lead to nowhere, the old town of Kotor is the perfect place to spend an afternoon or three following your feet rather than a map and getting completely and delightfully lost. If you’re not a fan of hiking, then taking a leisurely stroll around town is probably one of the best things to do while you’re in Montenegro. Though some streets can seems a little dressed-up for tourists, take a few wrong turns and you’ll quickly find rows of pastel shutters listing in their frames, little old ladies hanging their washing overhead and the cute mewing cats for which this medieval town is famed.


  6. Despite seeing many images of this place before my visit, nothing really prepared me for just how stunningly beautiful this bay is. The waterside setting (obviously) with its mountainous backdrop was for me a cross between the Norwegian fjords and those lovely Alpine lakes.


  7. The symbol of strength of this town is, I would say, the Clock Tower, which lies in the middle of the town square. It is at an approximate 30-degree slant. Originally upright, a couple of massive earthquakes struck the region over the centuries and caused the structure to incline. Just a few hundred metres from the town square were the protective city walls. There were two routes to reach the top—the steep streets through the interior of the town, and the two-hundred-odd steps straight to the vantage point. I was quite lazy and didn’t want to walk, so I took the shortcut. When I reached up there, all I could see were dreamy blues, pantile roof houses and hundreds of yachts.


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