I ought really to title this ‘The alleyways of Kotor’ as I seem to have more photos of those than anything else. Kotor is a town on the Bay of Kotor in Montenegro. The name of the country comes from a translation of ‘black mountain’ which refers to the dark and dense evergreen forests on Mount Lovćen. The old town of Kotor is surrounded by Venetian fortifications though it was first fortified by the Romans in the way of Emperor Justinian building a fortress above the port in 535AD - not often you get the chance to use variations of the same word three times in a sentence.
Mind you, nothing stopped the Saracens from plundering the town in 840, but then the Byzantine Empire took control and did their bit, the Bulgarian Empire came and messed it up for a while, Byzantium took power again, the Ruler of Serbia had his turn, the Kingdom of Hungary and the Venetians played pass the parcel for a few years (1371 - 1384), the Kingdom of Bosnia had a turn but became scared by the looming presence and strength of the Ottoman Empire so turned to the Republic of Venice for protection, which they gave. From 1420 - 1797 it was under Venetian control forming part of Venetian Albania (which shows a lot in the Venetian style architecture still around).
During this rule it was besieged by the Ottomans twice, suffered from the plague and nearly totally destroyed by two earthquakes. Subsequent to that, the town passed to the Habsburg Monarchy then the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy, surrendered to the British Royal Navy, restored back to the Habsburgs and after 1918 became part of Yugoslavia, Italy had it for a couple of years (1941 - 1943) but then returned to Yugoslavia. (Montenegro itself became independent (from Serbia) in 2006.)
The point of all this is to illustrate the absolute complexity of history in this region and nothing is ever simple due to the rise and fall of numerous empires surrounding the countries. Each had their influence and their legacy and after a while it can become a bit of a blur. Same with other reports I do and have done for Bosnia in that it takes several paragraphs just to list who had control and when. Take it as read that the history is as complex as two complex things tied together with a complex knot.
Most of the town is quite flat, but you don’t have to go far to get to some steps going off into the hillside behind -
Cats. Cats are a thing here. They are to keep the town free or mice, rats and snakes. But they have a cult following. There must be hundreds of them, all strays, but are looked after and well fed by the shop owners, the occupants of the town and everyone else. They are supposed to bring luck and there is a shop purely dedicate to cat artefacts (or should that be "catefacts") -
The far eastern gate -
Some old ruins just outside the walls. Could be anything, don’t know -
Rugged mountains behind -
The small marina for local fishing boats. Cruise ships do frequent this town, I’d hate to be where when one of those comes in. Fortunately none came whilst we visited -
Poor light, but the fortification walls do disappear up the mountain side -
No report is worth its salt without a few market pictures -
One thing that was quite annoying in Montenegro, for all the places we went, was the music. It has to be very loud and trying to sit, as we did, in a big square to have a dinner meant a cacophony of noise for different directions. One friend who came with us suffers from migraines and several times we had to move restaurants - he was ok(ish) hearing just one set of loud music, but two or more interfering with each other set him off. Plus the music was quite modern and we didn't really like it - in comparison to Bosnia where the music is far not so loud but seems stuck in the 80's and 90's which is fine as we can sing along to most of it. Not that we did, but we could have done.
No cats in photos...I thought from your words there must be lots, like in Morocco where they lie around in the sun and get in the way. What is the dominant religion there? from your excellent intro to the history there must have been a time when all the religions had a turn...who "won"?
Travel! Set out and head for pastures new[br] Life tastes the richer when you’ve road worn feet.[br]Ibn Battuta[br]
This is another interesting town in this area, this time one I'd never even heard of. The location and harbor is outstanding and the medieval town looks quite correct too. I really should explore this coast, it's reasonably accessible from my house in Italy. Thanks so much for another interesting and picturesque report when those are running thin Mark.
There are lots of cats, just not as it happens, in my photos. Religion - Eastern Orthodox 72% Islam 19% Catholic 3.4% and it goes down from there.
I always wonder if they even bother counting the fundamentalist agnostics such as myself in these. No matter how few show up in the numbers, I can always find many kindred souls on the ground anywhere. I think they just pretend we don't exist, probably a wise move.
In many countries, people prefer to give the name of a religion just to not make waves. And sometimes the people reporting this stuff just use the basic ethnic statistics without even asking the interested parties. That's one of the reasons that France is generally reported to be a Catholic country even though between 60 and 70% of the French do not identify with any religion.
fumobici, the last census was taken in 2011. If you look at page 15 of this document you'll see more accurately the religious breakdown (at that time). For the whole country, just look at the top line of the chart (in percentages) -
Finally catching up to this report and I'm shocked to see that it is from back in June. Well, I'm fascinated by your accounts of this part of the world, Mark, so it's nice to have a "new" report to look at.
Anyway, one of the main things that struck me is how about half of the report seems "Eastern", i.e., showing the influence of Saracens and of Byzantium. And then, right after the (marvelous!) market pictures, it seems to turn totally into Europe. As you said: ... the absolute complexity of history in this region and nothing is ever simple due to the rise and fall of numerous empires surrounding the countries. Each had their influence and their legacy ...
It's obvious from the way people are dressed that it was very hot when you were there. Is that why there are so few people out and about? That is a shame about the cruise ships, with the risk of polluting that gorgeous water and also the freight of hordes descending on the town.
Thanks for this lovely look at Montenegro and sorry for being so pokey.
It's obvious from the way people are dressed that it was very hot when you were there. Is that why there are so few people out and about?
The lack of people was more or less purely down to covid restrictions. There were some tourists but very few in comparison and by now it would be a different story. I may be back there again in a few weeks and see for myself. Not sure yet. From that trip into Montenegro I still have, I think, a couple of reports to do which I'll get round to when the mother in law has left visiting us. I had to look up what you meant by pokey as that's not a usage I knew of. Not a problem at all. Nice to look back again at the photos.
I too had missed this great report somehow but glad that I have now seen it. It looks a beautiful place . My son and his partner visited for a holiday a few ears ago and really enjoyed their time there. The scenery is just stunning in your photos but your final panorama photo shows is gorgeous.
That crystal clear water proves they are very good about keeping pollution at bay. I am in awe of that wall and little turrets coming down so steeply. How did those builders manage with just the most rudimentary of tools. ? And it's still there after centuries have passed. Amazing. It certainly is a stunning location.