Kotor and Cetinje
Kotor has a beautiful Old Town and likely to be the first recommendation made to the western visitor. The area has been long populated once part of the Roman province of Dalmatia many occupiers have passed through. Bulgarians, Serbs, Venetians, the Ottomans, and Austrians all have. The wall was a ‘gift’ of the Venetians I suppose.
The Old Town itself is definitely more beautiful that of Herceg Novi, it helped it was bigger. There are a plurality of old Orthodox and Roman Catholic cathedrals within the city.
I found the old Orthodox churches of Kotor impressive inside and out. The church Sveti Nikola especially stands out.
There is also a sizeable Roman Catholic contingent. The Roman catholic cathedral – St Triphon’s Cathedral (St Triphon – is canonised as a St by Orthodox) was Roman Catholic outside and in. but inside curiously it had some Orthodox heritage in the icons and some of the arrangements unlike the typical present day Catholic cathedrals. There is a bridge between the towers of the church where one can see a view of the square and nearby areas.
Kotor has palaces although these may not fit with many people’s impression of what constitutes a palaces aesthetically, mine certainly and nice cafes. One of the highlight was the walk up St John’s fortress. I read it is 1350 steps. I walked up at a leisurely pace stopping to admire the views and take photos along the way. There are several points with beautiful views of the town and the bay of Kotor. The walk is worth every bit of the effort in the heat. There was an entrance fee, if I remember correctly, of 3 Euros, very much worth it. Kotor also attracts cruise ships and it is easy to see why. The mass visitors they bring did not seem to detract, especially if you climb the fortress – you will escape some of the crowd this way.
My journey to and from Cetinje like most of my bus journeys in Montenegro was interesting. The buses in Montenegro are both joy and a pain. The prices are cheap., although the routes sometimes long winded and when there exists a better route you can’t rely on that being sold to you (unless you speak Serbian I suppose). The buses were reasonably comfortable except that is when the air conditioning broke, which was fairly often..:( My three hour journey to Bar in temperatures exceeding 35, were not a lot of fun for me or other passengers. There is nothing one can do but bear it.
The real delight comes from the passengers and those that I met particularly when I went to Kotar, and Cetinje and from Bar to Virpazar.
Those I spoke to in two days of bus journeys included teacher of sociology going to visit her boyfriend, a Montenegrin lady who works on cruiseships. A Serbian tourist and Petar studying to become a ship captain and more. And I didn’t leave my seat, but those I sat next time.
When I arrived in Cetinje, Petar gave me an overview of places to see in the city and how to get there.
Before setting off I decided to eat in a restaurant. The food was noticeably cheaper than Herceg Novi and in large portions like most places I ate at.
Cetinje is a beautiful town, once the capital it has pretty beautiful buildings and walking is a pleasure. The town may be small in size but not in importance. It resembles the Montenegrin fighting spirit, Ottomans failed three times to take the town. Cetinje actually boasts an important Orthodox monastery , and a plethora of museums, nice viewpoints and is fairly green. Some museums of note include Petar Petrovic Njego museum and the State museum.
People are friendly as everywhere in Montenegro. In the town itself I made another kind friend Ana who I had asked for directions. She spoke English very well as well as her friend who was teaches English.
The Cipur-Crnojevi monastery museums by the beautiful court church are in a nice setting opposite to the highlight of Cetinje – Cetinje Monestary.
In the small town are some of the most important relics of not just the Balkans but of the Orthodox world. Housed is a relic of the true cross (The Cross on which Christ was crucified) and the right hand of St John the Baptist along with the relics of Saint Peter of Cetinje.
No pictures are allowed in the monastery itself and access to the chapel where the relics are housed is restricted by numbers. To the tourist there is so much history as for me it was a pilgrimage. Both the piece o the true cross and the relics of St john the Baptist passed through several lands to make their journey to Montenegro. The relics were for example in Malta and then Russia for over 120 years when the Bolshevik revolution meant they were first removed to Estonia for safe keeping before making their way through Berlin and then Serbia to Ostrog before finally reaching Cetinje in 1978.
The monks of tCetinje monastery were so kind and upon learning I was Orthodox gave me a CD, a booklet about the monastery and other assortments as gifts.
Near the monastery on a hill of a very moderate climb, is the mausoleum at Orlov Krs. From that location there is a panorama of the town worth seeing. Outside city limits there is the famous mausoleum of the prince-bishop Njegos.