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The highlight of Kotor is undoubtedly the marvelously conserved city defenses; indeed, the first view you get of Kotor will without a doubt be of the mighty 13th-century Bastion Citadela (Citadel Bastion).

This citadel, with its magnificent 16th-century Kula Kampana (Kampana Tower) in the northwestern corner of the city, where the rijeku Škurda (Škurda River) flows into the bay, is a key part of the city’s defenses and has undergone many transformations right up to the 19th century, playing a crucial role in the overpowering of Turkish pirate Hayrud’din Barbosa, whose ineffective three-day siege of the city in 1539 is commemorated on an inscription above the nearby Sjeverna Vrata (North Gate), constructed in 1540. On the opposite side of town are the three doors of Južna Vrata (South Gate), constructed in the 18th, 13th and 16th centuries, correspondingly, to provide access to uzvora Gurdić (Gurdić Spring), as well as a fascinating look at various stages of the walls development.

The main entrance to the city today is the Morska Vrata (Sea Gate), which, until construction of the main road out front in the 19th century, only gave access to Marina (the old port). The date of 21st November 1944, above the gate, commemorates the liberation of the city by partisans. The quote from Josip Tito, which reads “we do not need other people’s things, and we do not give our own” seems a little ironic for this former trading city, while the Democratic Federative Yugoslavia coat-of-arms above is perhaps a little outdated. The gate leads into the Trg od Oružja (Arms Square), named after the 15th-century armoury from where local Dominican nun Blessed Osanna rallied the citizens in defence of the city against Barborosa’s attack.

Next to the Palata Grubonja (Grubonja Palace) on Trg od Drva (Timber Square) is a small baroque archway, garlanded with the winged lion of St Mark, that denotes the foot of the 1350-step stone staircase that leads to Tvrđava sv Ivan (St John Fort). The current appearance of this ancient fort dates from the 16th and 17th centuries, when the Venetian overlords hunted to refortify the city against Turkish attack. On the way up the hill, you pass many bastions named after provosts of that time, as well as Mala tvrđa (Little Fort), with its15th-century Kula Kontarini (Contarini Tower) and the 16th-century Crkva Gospe od Zdravlja (Our Lady of Health Church), both of which offer fantastic views of the old town.

The crumbling Kastel Kotor (Kotor Castle), on the summit of the hill, is in fact too high to offer good views of the city but in its place offers a splendid panorama over the awe-inspiring Bay of Kotor itself.
There is a small fee for entrance to the fort, but if you go in the late afternoon, the ticket seller will have gone home, and your climb will be rewarded with a stunning sunset.

Walking around the top of the city walls is a must for any visitor to Budva. The path followed by the walls is roughly three sides of a rectangle, with the fourth taken up by the massive Fortress of St Mary (open in summer only). Along the first stretch the views were of St Nicholas Island, the Adriatic and the Montenegrin coastline to the south. The second side offers views of Budva’s marina and the new town nestled below the mountains.

The walls themselves are studded with turrets and bastions and chutes presumably designed for pouring hot tar and similarly unpleasant substances over the heads of anybody trying to force the city gates. The turrets and towers are all open to explore and it’s easy to imagine yourself as a defender of the city as you search the sea for pirates and invading armies through the narrow archery slits.

From all parts of the walls it’s also possible to look back into the old town itself. Glimpses into people’s backyards and along narrow lanes from above gave a sneak look into local life. In the summer, with the sheer number of tourists who apparently visit Budva, the residents no doubt feel a bit like animals in a zoo and turn their backs to the walls, but in the winter everybody’s laundry is in full view.

Thirty kilometers along the coast from Kotor is the pleasant little fishing village of Perast, a simple and modest town with one exceptional monument that acts as a testimony to the unflagging spirit of the locals.

The site here at the foot of the 873m high sv Ilija has been continuously settled since the Neolithic age (3,500BC), through the Illyrian, Roman, and early Christian eras, right up to the 17th and 18th centuries, when it took its current form with over 300 perfectly preserved Baroque buildings spreading up the hill. Highlights include the small 1570 Tvrđava sv Križ (St Chris Fort) and the imposing 1694 Palata Bujović (Bujović Palace) that now houses a small town museum, but the town’s one must-see site lies a short boat rip off of the coast.

On the evening of the July 22, 1452, the small fishing fleet rode out from Perast to a small škrpjel (rocky crag) jutting out of the water, upon which had been built a small simple church where, to the accompaniment of traditional folk songs, the fleets unloaded their cargoes of rocks into the sea. This ceremony has continued each year, and augmented by the scuttling of old fishing boats at this site, the island has expanded to cover 3,030m2. The Gospa od Škrpjel (Church of Our Lady of the Rock) has undergone a parallel evolution and owes its current baroque style to the work of local architect Ilija Katičić carried out between 1720-25.

The ornate Gothic altar at the far end of the presbytery is topped with a magnificent icon of the Madonna and child by Lovro Marinov Dobričević encased in gold that serves merely to shed light upon the astonishing frescos by self-taught local artist Tripo Kokolja (1661-1713). This magnum opus took 10 years to complete, from 1685-95, and one can see the artists skills develop; changes in his personal life are also evidenced by the change of the model used for the images of the virgin, turning from a slim blonde to a more fully-figured brunette. The attached Keeper’s Lodge houses a small museum containing all manner of artifacts and knick-knacks left as votive gifts by grateful seafarers over the years, including paintings, pottery, and a small stone cross believed to be the oldest preserved sign of Christianity in the region. There is also a small souvenir shop, while the nearby Hall of Reconciliation, built as an arbitration court to prevent local disputes from having been referred to the law courts in distant Venice, now houses a small refreshment stand.

A nice way to spend half a day or so while you’re in Budva is to take a short trip five kilometres south along the coast to Sveti Stefan.

Sveti Stefan was once a small rocky island but is now joined to the coast by a stone walkway built across a naturally-formed spit. The spit is the result of a phenomenon known locally as a tombola. A tombola occurs when waves hit an island that is close to the shore of the mainland. Waves breaking in from the open sea wrap themselves around each side of the island and being trapped by the nearby coastline have no option but to hit each other head on. This sudden collision almost halts the waves and they drop their load of waterborne sand, in this case, in a line at right angles to the coastline.

Sveti Stefan has been colonized at least since the fifteenth century, and legend has it that the treasure from a captured Turkish ship was used by the local noble family, th

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