The old Mediterranean port of Kotor, surrounded by an impressive city wall built by Republic of Venice and the Venetian influence remains dominant among the architectural influences. The Bay of Kotor (Boka Kotorska), one of the most indented parts of the Adriatic Sea is sometimes called the southern-most fjord in Europe (though it is actually a submerged river canyon). With the nearly overhanging limestone cliffs of Orjen and Lovćen one of the great Mediterranean landscapes is created. In recent years, Kotor has seen a steady increase in tourists attracted by both the natural beauty of the Gulf of Kotor and the old town of Kotor itself.
Kotor has been fortified since the early Middle Ages, when Emperor Justinian built a fortress above Acruvium in AD 535, after expelling the Goths, and a second town probably grew up on the heights round it, for Constantine Porphyrogenitus, in the 10th century, alludes to Lower Kotor. The city was plundered by the Saracens in 840. Until the 11th century the Dalmatian language was spoken in Kotor.
In 1002, the city suffered damage under occupation of the First Bulgarian Empire, and in the following year it was ceded to Serbia by the Bulgarian Tsar Samuil, but the locals revolted in alliance with the Republic of Ragusa, and only submitted in 1184, as a protected state, preserving intact its republican institutions, and its right to conclude treaties and engage in war. It was already an episcopal see, and, in the 13th century, Dominican and Franciscan monasteries were established to check the spread of Bogomilism.
In the 14th century the commerce of Kotor, as the city was then called, rivaled that of the nearby Republic of Ragusa, and provoked the jealousy of Venice. Kotor was part of the Venetian Albania province of the Venetian Republic from 1420 to 1797, except for periods of Ottoman administration between 1538-1571 and 1657-1699. Those four centuries gave to the city the typical Venetian baroque architecture, that has contributed to make Kotor an UNESCO "world patrimony".
Under Venetian rule, Kotor was besieged by the Ottoman Empire in 1538 and 1657, visited by the plague in 1572, and nearly destroyed by earthquakes in 1563 and 1667. Under the Treaty of Campo Formio in 1797, it passed to the Habsburg Monarchy. However, in 1805, it was assigned to the French Empire's client state, the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy by the Treaty of Pressburg. After the Russians retreated, Kotor was united in 1810 with the French Empire's Illyrian Provinces. Kotor was then captured by British naval Captain William Hoste with his ship HMS Bacchante (38 guns). Working jointly with Montenegran forces he attacked the mountain fortress, hauling ships' cannon and mortars to positions above the fort using block and tackle. The French garrison had no alternative but to surrender, which it did on 5 January 1814.
In World War I, Kotor was one of the three bases of the Austro-Hungarian Navy, homeport for the Austrian Fifth Fleet consisting of pre-dreadnought battleships and light cruisers. The area was the site of some of the fiercest battles between local Montenegrin Slavs, and Austria-Hungary. After 1918, the city (called Cattaro until then) became a part of Yugoslavia and became known as Kotor officially. Between 1941 and 1943 Italy annexed the area of Kotor to the Italian "Governorship of Dalmatia", but after 1945 it became a part of the then Socialist Republic of Montenegro within Yugoslavia's second incarnation.
In 1979 (April 15) a major earthquake hit the Montenegrin coastal area. The victims were approximately 100 people. Half of Kotor's Old Town was destroyed. St. Tryphon's Cathedral was partly damaged.
Up until the beginning of the 20th century, Catholics constituted the majority in Kotor as well as in other places around the Gulf of Kotor.
Kotor is the administrative centre of Kotor municipality, which includes towns of Dobrota, Risan and Perast, as well as many small hamlets around the Bay of Kotor. The municipality has a population of 23,481 (2003. census). The town of Kotor itself has 5,341, but Kotor and Dobrota are practically one town, they have combined population of 13,510.
Population of Kotor (Including Dobrota):
Ethnic groups (1991 census):
Ethnic groups (2003 census) - 22,947:
According the documents from 1900, Kotor had = 7,617 Catholics (Croats), 7,207 Orthodox Christians (Serbs).
The 2003 census listed 23,481 citizens, of whom 78% were Orthodox Christians (predominantly adherents of the Serbian Orthodox Church, with some adherents of the Montenegrin Orthodox Church) and 13% Roman Catholic.
Kotor is a major tourist destination. It has one of the best preserved medieval old towns in the Adriatic, listed with UNESCO world heritage sites. It has numerous other sights, such as Cathedral of Saint Tryphon in the old town (built in 1166), and ancient walls which stretch 4,5 km directly above the city. Sveti Đorđe and Gospa od Škrpijela islets off the coast of Perast are also among more popular destinations in Kotor vicinity.
The Old town is filled with bars, restaurants and cafes, and there are many nightclubs in Kotor. Music is piped into the streets of the old town by huge loudspeakers outside most of the bars and cafes. Many tourists have complained that the music in the old town is intolerably loud such that they cannot visit the restaurants and that it is better to stay in hotels outside the old town if you do not wish to be disturbed by the music.
Summer events, such as Summer Carnival or Bokeljska Noć, are visited by thousands of tourists. These are the most visited happenings in Montenegro during the summer, with over 30,000 people partying in Kotor during Summer Carnival.
Kotor is not a premium destination for sunbathing, as there are no sandy beaches, and water is not of reasonable quality in this part of the Bay of Kotor. However, the drive is no more than half an hour to some of the beaches on the Budva Riviera.
Kotor is connected to the Adriatic Motorway and the rest of the coast and inland Montenegro by Vrmac Tunnel. Inland is reachable by detouring from Adriatic motorway at Budva or Sutomore (through Sozina tunnel). There is also a historic road connecting Kotor with Cetinje, which offers spectacular views of the Kotor bay.
Podgorica Airport is 65 km away, and it has regular flights to major European destinations throughout the year.