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Kotor Montenegro is a Natural Fortress

18-Jun-2018

Stunning vistas will greet you around every curve on the way to Kotor Montenegro headed south from the Croatia border. It’s only 28 km as the eagle flies. But it’ll take over an hour to travel the 50 km (30 miles) of twisting roads around a series of odd shaped bays.  Both the road and ancient small towns cling to the waters edge the whole way. Behind the towns steep stark mountains rise up, making you feel like you’ve suddenly been transported to the Norwegian fjords.

In one place, the opposite sides come quite close, forming a narrow waterway between the outer bays bordering the Adriatic Sea and the quiet inner bays. That passageway makes this entire area easily defended. It’s a natural fortress prized since ancient Roman times, and as recently as WW2. Nowadays, you’ll see the summer cruise ships making their way through this same passage on their way to medieval Kotor.

Arriving in the city, you’ll find a nearly perfectly preserved old town. An entire city is nestled safely inside huge stone walls, jutting bastions and three imposing entrance gates. Steep mountains form the backside. More stone walls and defensive outposts wend their way high up the mountain, giving ancient defenders a decided advantage.

Spend a few days here. Let it soak in to your imagination. Sure there’s lots of tourists. But come early in the day or linger later. Avoid the flag-following clusters of humanity on the main streets. Instead, wander off and get lost in the deserted side streets. You can’t really get out anyway except through one of the gates. So you’ll always know where you are once you pop out.

Real ordinary people still live here. They hang their laundry out the window. Their kids play in the stone paved narrow back streets worn smooth by millions of footsteps. Nearly 1,500 years of life, death, raising families, love, laughter, crying, tragedy, eating, celebrating, hope. The stones themselves reverberate with it all. But you’ll have to sit a bit in quiet to hear the echos.

(Click on any photo to open light-box and browse full-size images.)

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