The Bay of Kotor
in southwestern Montenegro
is a winding bay on the Adriatic Sea. The bay, once called Europe
's southernmost fjord, is in fact a ria of the disintegrated Bokelj River which used to run from the high mountain plateaus of Mount Orjen. It is an important tourist attraction in Montenegro. The Verige strait represents the narrowest section of the bay and is located between Cape St. Nedjelja and Cape Opatovo; it separates the inner bay east of the strait from the remainder and belongs to the Natural and Culturo-Historical Region of Kotor, a World
Heritage Site. Montenegro is planning to build a bridge to span the strait, the so called Verige Bridge.
The bay has been inhabited since antiquity and has some well preserved medieval towns. The picturesque towns of Kotor, Risan, Tivat
, Perast, Prčanj, Herceg Novi, and Budva
, along with their natural surroundings, are major tourist attractions. The religious heritage of the land around the bay — its numerous Orthodox and Catholic Christian churches and monasteries — makes it one of the major pilgrimage sites of the region.
The nearby hamlet of Risan was a thriving Illyrian city called Rhizon as early as 229 BC and gave its name to the bay, then known as Rhizonicus Sinus. Queen Teuta of Illyria retired from Shkodra to Rhizon. Rhizon eventually submitted to Rome in 168 BC, at the same time that Acrivium, or Acruvium, the modern Kotor, was first mentioned as a neighboring city. Kotor has been fortified since the early Middle Ages, and was one of the more influential Dalmatian city-states of the Romanized Illirians throughout the period. It later passed to Bulgaria
and then to Serbia
before becoming a part of the medieval Bosnian state. Its merchant fleet and importance gradually increased, and after the fall of Serbia to the Ottoman Empire in the late 14th century, Kotor was seized by the Venetian Republic.
Part of the Bay of Kotor area was conquered by the Turks at the end of the 15th century, and the Venetian Republic held the southern part with the city of Kotor. The Turkish part was retaken at the end of the 17th century and the whole area became part of the Venetian Republic, with the name of Albania
Veneta. Until the 20th century the difference between the two parts was visible because the former Turkish part had an Orthodox majority, and the part that was under Venetian rule had a Croat Catholic majority.
Ethnic Groups In Boka
Montenegrins & Serbs
Slavic tribes including Croats and Serbs settled around the Bay of Kotor in the 7th century. The region was divided between tribes, the Docleans and the Travunians. When the autonomous Serbian Orthodox Church was established in the 13th century, one of its first eparchies was established in Boka.
The towns of Kotor, Perast, Tivat, Dobrota, Prčanj, Herceg-Novi and Budva had a Croatian Roman Catholic majority in 1910. The Bokelj Marine 809 (Bokeljska mornarica 809) is a Croat fraternal society whose aim is to preserve maritime tradition. In 1893, the Croatian Home (Hrvatski dom) was opened in Kotor.
The bay is composed of several smaller broad bays, united by narrower channels, forming one of the finest natural harbours in Europe. The bay inlet was formerly a river system. Very intensive tectonics and karstification processes led to the disintegration of this river. After heavy rain the famous waterfall of Sopot spring at Risan appears, and Škurda, another well-known spring runs through a canyon from Lovćen. The outermost part of the bay is the Bay of Tivat (Teodo) and a small naval port, currently being transformed into a state of the art super yacht marina, Porto Montenegro. On the seaward side, there is the Bay of Herceg Novi (Castelnuovo), which guards the main entrance to the Bay of Kotor. The inner bays are the Bay of Risan to the northwest and the Bay of Kotor to the southeast.
The Bay of Kotor lies within the Mediterranean and northwards the humid subtropical climate zone, but its peculiar topography and the high mountains make it the second wettest place after Japan
’s Kii Peninsula in Eurasia north of the Himalayas. The littoral Dinarids and the Prokletije mountains nearby are the wettest place in all of Europe, leading to small glaciers surviving well above the 0 °C (32 °F) mean annual isotherm. Just as the monsoon rain of eastern Asia
is seasonally distributed, so too November thunderstorms sometimes pour 2,000 litres of water in several days, while August is frequently completely dry, leading to forest fires. With a maximum discharge of 200 m³/s, one of the biggest karst springs, the Sopot spring, is a remarkable indicator of this seasonal variation. Most of the time it is inactive but after heavy rain a remarkable waterfall appears 20 m above the Bay of Kotor.