Kotor, Montenegro

General Information

Regional secretariat

Natural and Culturo-Historical Region of Kotor

Registration Year


Historical function

Maritime trade and handicrafts.

Location and site

Kotor is situated at the deepest end of Boka Kotorska bay (Adriatic sea) where mount Lovcen and the sea encompass the town, whilst on the other side rises Vrmac peninsula.Kotor is isutated in a triangle bordering with the sea, the river Skurda and St.John hill, on top of which there is San Giovanni fortress.

Urban morphology

At the heart of its mountainous landscape, the small city of Kotor, with its narrow, sinuous streets, maintains traces of the Middle Ages despite the disastrous earthquakes it suffered since that time.

In addition to the wall and gates that constituted the first monument of the settlement, a large number of Roman-Byzantine, Gothic and Renaissance constructions (the cathedral, churches, the palace) testify to the medieval past that has traces of both Rome and Byzantium, as well as of the Balkans and Western Europe.

Disastrous earthquakes were frequent in the history of Kotor.We can freely say that in Kotor time is divided according to the periods between disastrous earthquakes.The first known earthquake is the one from the years 361-367.Better known ones are those from 1537,1563,1667 and1979.The earthquake which had struck Kotor on 6th April 1667 will destroy two thirds of all the buildings in the town.It will remain noted that the town councils were convoked without the usual sounding of the bells froSt.Tryphon’s cathedral because the bell towers had been destroyed.The most recent earthquake which struck KOtor was on 15th April 1979.The town and its surroundings were heavily damaged.Thanks to the help coming from all over the ex Yugoslavia and teh world teh town was renovated and officially reopened on 10th September 1987.The traces of this earthquake are still visible in the town.

The Duke’s palace

It was built in the eighteenth century. Together with the Tower of the town’s guard it makes almost all eastern façade of the town. In the past it was an official seat of the Venetian providures. It served for various military purposes. Although without any architectonic decorations except the Renaissance consoles that support the balcony it nevertheless presents one of the more important architectonic monuments of Kotor.

 Napoleon theatre building

It was built in the eighteenth century. In 1810 the French occupying authorities reconstructed this building to establish regular theatre, one of the first in this country. To turn it into the theatre, they had to break down the northern façade. This building was considerably damaged in the 1979 earthquake when its southern façade was almost completely destroyed. The restoration of the façade was carried out in all details by academic sculptors and builders from Macedonia. The interior of the object was entirely adapted for an exclusive restaurant and entertainment object.

 Arsenal building

Arsenal building is situated in the north-east corner of the Square of Arms, which was named by it. Its locality was determinated by the terms of that place , and also there was a very powerful bastion Citadela with the castle called Kampana, situated  in the north-west corner of the town gates. In this part of town was a huge shipyard on the seaside, in front of the bastion Citadela.

The Church of St.Mihailo

Was build on XIV or XV century,like the inscriptions in the walls say,on the place where in the X century existed even more bigger church.After the earthquake the church was reconstructed.Today in this church there is Lapidarium where we can find collection of stone monuments.

The Church of St. Klara

This church with Franciscan monastery derives from the eighteenth century. The church has a luxurious Baroque altar, the work of the sculptor Francesco Kabjanka. On the place of today’s Franciscan monastery once there was women’s Benedictine monastery with the church of  St. Bartholomew which does not exist today. The monastery has a very rich library with a great number of old books, printed from 1450 to 1500.

St. Ozana’s Church or The Church of St. Mary of The River

This church was built in 1221 on fundaments of the old Christian Episcopal basilica from the sixth century. In this church once it was baptistery – which was discovered in the research after the 1979 earthquake. The church depicted with frescoes in the fourteenth century by pictores greci. Today in the church there are relics of Saint Ozana, and that is why the citizens of Kotor also call this church Blessed Ozana. 

St. Nicola’s Church

The building of the church started in 1902 and according to the inscriptions on the façade it was finished in 1909. it was built in the Pseudo-Byzantine style as one-nave church. The main façade is framed with two bell towers. Of special value in the church is iconostasis of the church made in 1908.

St. Luka’s Church

It was built by Mauro Kacafrangi in 1195 of which testifies the ktitor’s inscription on the western façade. This is a modest one-nave church whose main nave is longitudinally divided into three parts. St. Luka’s church has characteristics of the Romanesque and Byzantine architecture. This is the only building in the town which did not suffer any major damage during earthquakes. It was depicted with frescoes soon after its construction, of which remained only some fragments on the southern wall.

Karampana Fountain

Karampana fountain in the past was the only source of fresh water in the town. In present form the fountain derives from the Baroque Epoch, from the end of the seventeenth or the beginning of the eighteenth century. The forged rail is the work of an unknown master blacksmith.

The Grgurina Palace

The palace Grgurina belonged to the noble family Grgurina. It was built in the eighteenth century in the Baroque style, with the façade on which dominate stone balconies with balustrades. Particularly interesting is originally preserved lay out of the floor rooms according to the Venetian pattern which says: the master’s house has four rooms and one parlour. Today in the palace is situated the Maritime Museum whose collection shows development of maritime affairs and cultural level of the inhabitants of the Montenegrin Littoral and Boka Kotorska in the past. 


Bishopric is the oldest institution in Kotor. Today’s building of Bishopric is located next to the Cathedral of St. Tryphon and also belonged to the family Drago.

The Drago Palace

The palace was built in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries with all elements of Gothic style. The palace consists of two wings, southeastern and northern. As a decorative element there is often a dragon which is on the coat of arms of the family Drago. The windows and the portals are done in the Gothic style and nicely chiseled out. The palace was damaged in the 1667 and 1979 earthquakes. Today it houses the Regional Institution for Protection of Cultural Monuments.  St. Tryphon Cathedral

The Romanesque church built in 1166 on the fundaments of the small Romanesque church from the ninth century. It is three-nave Basilica, extensively restored several times, especially after the 1667 earthquake when the bell towers and a part of the façade were destroyed. After the earthquake, new bell towers were made in the Baroque style.

 St Tryphon’s Cathedral

The Romanesque church built in 1166 on the fundaments of the small Romanesque church from the ninth century. It is three-nave Basilica, extensively restored several times, especially after the 1667 earthquake when the bell towers and a part of the façade were destroyed. After the earthquake, new bell towers were made in the Baroque style.

St. Tryphon’s Square

In this square there are the most significant institutions of the town: the building of Municipality, Bishopric, Historical Achieves, the Institution for Protection for Protection of Cultural Monuments and Cathedral of St. Tryphon.

The Buca Palace

The Buca palace is situated opposite to the palace Pima. Today’s look of this palace does not depict the historical importance of the family Buca, one of the most eminent families in Kotor. The original Gothic palace was built at the beginning of the fourteenth century but it was considerably destroyed in some of the series of earthquakes that hit the town. It was reconstructed after the 1667 earthquake when it assumed today’s shape. From luxurious Gothic palace remained only one ‘bifora’ or a window with two arches on the western side that can be seen only from the town walls.

The Pima Palace

The Pima Palace, built after the 1667 earthquake, dominates the square with its beauty. The palace portal with the terrace was built in the Renaissance style while the windows and upper balcony which lies on the twelve consoles were built in the Baroque style. The balcony rail is the work of Kotor blacksmiths. Above the main portal there is the coat of arms of the family Pima supported by two angels. The palace was reconstructed after the 1979 earthquake.

The Bizanti Palace

The Palace Bizanti with one façade is turned to Square of Arms and with the other overlooking the street leading to Square of Flour. It was built in the fourteenth century. After the 1667 earthquake the palace changed its original look. The northern wing of the palace was added, which is evident from the coat of arms with the initials of Nikola Bizanti and the year of building 1674 on the eastern wall of the palace. 

The Beskuca Palace

It was built in the middle of the eighteenth century in a simple form without any decorative elements. The only decorative element worth mentioning is the Gothic portal that belonged to the Bizanty family. The portal presents the real masterpiece of the floral Gothic. The Palace belonged to the died out family Beskuca, which was particularly powerful by the end of the thirteenth century when they became a member of the nobility. The family legend says that the Count Jozo Beskuca wanted to have a hundred houses in his possession and change his surname into Stokuca, but he did not succeed in it. After the family Beskuca died out by the beginning of the nineteenth century, the Palace became the property of the Kotor Community.

Tower Of Town Guards

The Tower of Town Guards, the lean-to the Duke’s Palace, is an evident example of military architecture – built to serve the military purpose only. It was built of high-quality stone against the interior side of western wall. The Tower was devoided of any architectonic ornaments. In the 1979 earthquake it was destroyed to such extent that it had to be break down up to the level of the first floor and then restored in stone in original size.

The Clock Tower

The Clock Tower is one of the symbols of Kotor. It occupies the central place in the square opposite the main gate. It was built in 1602 but it is supposed not to have been finished at the time of the 1667 earthquake, as on that occasion the Tower considerably inclined towards the west i.e. to the sea. Later there had been some attempts to put it back in upright position but after the 1979 catastrophic earthquake it returned to the same position. 

Main Town Square

The Square of Arms is at the same time the largest town’s square. This name was given to it because in Venetian period it was the place where arms were repaired and stored. It is ringed with the beautiful Providur’s Palace, Napoleon Theatre, the Clock Tower, Arsenal building and tower of town guard.

The Town Gates

You can enter Kotor through three town gates. The main gate is the Sea gate on the western side. They date from the 16th century and are constructed at the time of Venetian Providur Bernard  Renier. A long time ago the sea reached the very entrance. The gate was built in the Renaissance and Baroque style, the proof of which is the pillar and the arch done in the Bunjato technique. The gate is surrounded by massive stone blocks and stone pillars.  

Kotor fortifications

Kotor is among few of Mediterranean towns which has preserved its fortification system up to today. The walls surrounding the old town of Kotor were one of the main motives and reasons why the UNESCO put this city on the list of the world natural and cultural heritage in 1979. The fortification system of Kotor was built and developed through centuries. The walls are 4.5km in length, at some places they reach 20 m in height and 2-16 m thick. At the sea level of 260 m there is St. Ivan’s fortress on the basis of which there are traces of Illyrian period.

Registration criteria

The natural and cultural-historic region of Kotor is a grouping of monuments on the coast of the gulf that share exceptional value is due to their rapport with their carefully chosen sites and their insertion in the urban context. (I) Kotor and its neighbours have been the site of creation in the region over a period of several centuries. Their schools for painters and silversmiths and their architecture have exercised profound and longlasting influence on the Adriatic coast. (II) The successful integration of these cities in the gulf site, their number, the quality and diversity of their monuments and cultural properties, and the exceptional authenticity of their conservation constitute a unique ensemble. (III) Kotor and Perast represent one of the most characteristic and authentically conserved testimonies of urban design of small cities. (IV)

Historical reference

  • The tradition links Kotor to the antique Acruvium, the town mwntioned by Pliny the Elder form the 1st century AD. It has not yet been established whether Acruvium had been situated on the iste of the present day KOtor.The second hypothesis seems more probanle.Judging by all teh facts, the citizens of Acruvium, due to the danger of barbarians at the time of migrations of people, moved to Catarum, a smaller settlement located in teh area of the present da town. In the Byzantine sources the name of DekateronĆ;from the time of HUmanism the name of the town os Acruium;the italians know it as Cattaro.Present day name of the town of Kotor is the slavic version of the antique Catarum.
  • In its long history, the town has changed many autjorities and administrations. It will be ruled by the Illyrians fro the 3rd century BC up to the year 168 BC when it is taken by teh Romans who rule the town until teh fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476. After that Kotor became part of the Eastern Roman Empire i.e. Byzantine Empire and it will rmeain there with brief interruptions, until the year 1185.The Byzantine rule in Kotor will be abolished in the mid 11th century by the dominion of Doclea-Zeta dynasty of the Vojisavljevics.The Byzantine administration is reestablished in the 12th century up tp the year 1185 when Kotor becomes a part of Raška-medieval Serebian state ruled by Nemanjic dynasty.The Serbian rule will last all to the year 1371 when the town will be taken over by Ludovic I ,Hngarian-Croatian king.Then,in the period from 1384 to 1391 the town will be ruled by the Bosnian kiong Tvrtko.
  • Kotor wil be independent town state form 1391-1420 when it puts itself under the proteciton of the Venetian Republic until teh fall of the same in 1797.The first period of Austrian rule of the town lasts from 1797 to 1805 then, form 1806 to 1807 the town will be ruled by teh Russians.France rules the town from 1807 to 1813.After the fall of French rule, the Temporary governemnt is established of the two united provinces, MOntenegro and Boka Kotorska Bay better known as teh Central Commission.It will last from 1813 to 1814.The second part of the Austrian rule lasts from 1814 up to 1918.
  • After WWI Kotor becomes a part of Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovens only to become a part of the Republicof Montenegre one of 6 republics of the Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia ever since WWII.After the fall of SFRYugoslavia, Kotor remains within the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia afterwards succeeded by Serbia and Mointenegro until may 2006 whn Montenegro declared independence.
  • From this brief overview of various rules over Kotor it is possible to get the picture of dramatic historical circumstances in this region.Itis important to mention,however,that Kotor had in the Middle ages the town administration which had been more or less freely,arranging the circumstances in the town.At later times, its autonomy will gradually be disappearing bit its citizens, despite that, will retain the loyalty and the sense of their belonging to the town.


3 May 2018

45th Meeting of the Board of Directors

Kotor, Montenegro


Mr. Zeljko Aprkovic

Municipality of Kotor

Stari grad 317
Kotor, Montenegro

[email protected]

Mrs. Lena Pasinovic

Advisor for international relations
Municipality of Kotor

Cabinet of the Mayor Stari Grad 317
Kotor, Montenegro

+382 32 520300
[email protected]

Ms Jelena Stjepcevic

Head of office for international cooperation
Municipality of Kotor

Kotor, Montenegro

+382/69 304 716
[email protected]