Position: Southwest Montenegro
Rivers: Karst hydrology, Sopot, Škurda
Settlements: Kotor, Herceg Novi,
Tivat, Budva, Risan
Dobrota, Perast, Prčanj
Records: Largest bay in the Adriatic,
submerged river canyon
Water Area: 87 km²
Max depth: 60 m
Average depth: 27.3 m
Water content: 2412, 306 km³ (2,4 mrd m³)
Highest point: Orjen = 1894 m
Lowest point: Sea surface = 0 m
Length: 28,13 km
Widest point: 7 km
Narrowest point: 0.3 km
Hydrologic system: karst hydrology ca. 4000 km²
Shoreline: 107.3 km
Part of the Bay of Kotor is included in the Natural and Culturo-Historical Region of Kotor *
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Alley in Kotor
(Not yet a State Party to the World Heritage Convention)
Criteria i, ii, iii, iv
Region ** Europe and North America
Inscription 1979 (3rd Session)
* Name as inscribed on World Heritage List
** Region as classified by UNESCO
The Bay of Kotor (Montenegrin, Serbian, Croatian: Boka Kotorska, Cyrillic script: Бока Которска, pronounced [bɔ̂ka kɔ̂tɔrskaː]) in south-western Montenegro is a winding bay on the Adriatic Sea. The bay, sometimes called Europe's southernmost fjord, is in fact a submerged river canyon 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 represent 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 that would 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, is 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 south-western 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.
The Bay of Kotor within the Kingdom of Zeta in the 12th century.
The Bokelj Croats had a very strong fleet, which counted as many as 300 ships in the 18th century. The Bay was a major rival to Dubrovnik and Venice.
At the beginning of the 19th century the region around the Bay of Kotor was included in the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy and later in the Illyrian provinces, which were a part of the French Empire. The region was later conquered by Montenegro with Russian help by Episcop of Cetinje Petar I Petrović Njegoš and in 1813 a union of the bay area with Montenegro was declared.
In 1815, the bay was annexed by the Austrian Empire (Austro-Hungary since 1867) and was included into the province of Dalmatia (part of Cisleithania since 1867). In 1848 Montenegrin Prince-Bishop Petar II Petrović-Njegoš advised the denizens to fight in the Revolutions of 1848 for Croatian Ban Josip Jelačić in an attempt to unite Dalmatia, Croatia and Slavonia under the Habsburg crown. Contrary to this the Serb National Guard of Kotor refused the proposition of Petar II Petrović Njegoš to unite with Croatia-Slavonia, stating that Serbs have to be unified first before uniting with other Slavs.
The Bay was attempted to be taken by the Kingdom of Montenegro during World War I, it was bombarded from Lovćen, but by 1916 Austro-Hungary defeated Montenegro. On 7 November 1918 the Serbian Army enters the bay and is greeted by the people as liberators. It becomes a part of the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs. The State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs joined the Kingdom of Montenegro and the Kingdom of Serbia. Within a month, the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes is formed, renamed to Yugoslavia in 1939. The Bay was a municipality of Dalmatia until it was, like all historic entities, re-organized into smaller districts in 1922. It was incorporated into the Zeta Area, from 1939 Zeta Banate.
According to a list of Christians from the Kotor Catholic Bishopric from 29 October 1625, the Bay had a total of 3,430 residents. 2,350 were Orthodox and 1,080 were Catholic.
According to 1818 data, the area had 29,899 inhabitants, of whom 21,310 were Orthodox Christians and 8,589 Roman Catholics. At that time municipalities with an Orthodox majority were Kotor, Risan, Grbalj, Budva, and Herceg Novi, while municipalities with a Catholic majority were Dobrota, Prčanj, Stoliv, Kontada of Kotor, and Perast.
The population of the municipalities, only coastal settlements, of Boka in 1880:
Herceg-Novi = 3,314 Orthodox Christians, 1,469 Catholics
Kotor = 7,051 Catholics, 3,077 Orthodox Christians
Risan = 1,910 Orthodox Christians, 860 Catholics
In Kotor municipality Krtole had an Orthodox majority, 899 compared to 89 Catholic inhabitants, and in Risan municipality, Perast had a Catholic majority, 683 compared to 327 Orthodox inhabitants.
The population of the municipalities, only coastal settlements, of Boka in 1890:
Herceg-Novi = 3,377 Orthodox Christians, 1,274 Catholics
Kotor = 7,409 Catholics, 2,983 Orthodox Christians
Risan = 1,842 Orthodox Christians, 1,000 Catholics
According to the 1900 population census, the Bay of Kotor had 37,096 inhabitants. Religion:
24,130 (65.05%) Eastern Orthodox
12,777 (34.44%) Roman Catholics
189 (0.51%) other
31,087 (83.8%) Serbian & Croatian
842 (2.27%) German
731 (1.97%) Italian
The population of the municipalities of Boka in 1900, all settlements:
Budva = 5,526 Orthodox Christians, 1,537 Catholics
Herceg-Novi = 7,377 Orthodox Christians, 2,198 Catholics
Kotor = 7,617 Catholics, 7,207 Orthodox Christians
Risan = 4,020 Orthodox Christians, 1,385 Catholics
The population of the municipalities, only coastal settlements, of Boka in 1910:
Herceg-Novi = 3,893 Orthodox Christians, 2,599 Catholics
Kotor = 9,188 Catholics, 3,554 Orthodox Christians
Risan = 1,884 Orthodox Christians, 1,215 Catholics
According to the 1910 census, the Bay of Kotor area had 40,582 inhabitants, of whom 24,794 were Orthodox Christians and 14,523 Catholics, but in the same time in coastal area of Bay of Kotor there were 22,823 inhabitants of which 13,002 were Catholics and 9,331 were Orthodox.
Historic map of the Bay of Kotor.
Bay of Kotor within the Kingdom of Dalmatia in Austria-Hungary
From 1918, the Bay of Kotor was part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (renamed Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1929). Between 1918 and 1922 the region was a separate county administered from Kotor (still in Dalmatia, between 1922 and 1929 it was part of Zeta Oblast, and between 1929 and 1941 part of Zeta Banovina. According to the 1921 census, Boka had 36,539 inhabitants, of whom 23,777 were Orthodox Christians and 12,342 Catholics.
The region of the Bay of Kotor was occupied by the Italian Army in April 1941, and was included in the Italian Governatorato di Dalmazia until September 1943. Since 1945, it has been part of the Republic of Montenegro.
Today, most of the inhabitants of the region are Orthodox Christian declaring themselves on census forms either as Serbs or as Montenegrins, while about 11% of its population is Croatian. The Bay of Kotor region is under the protection of UNESCO due to its very rich cultural heritage.
In 1979, there was an earthquake that destroyed or seriously damaged numerous cultural monuments.
Most inhabitants of the Bay of Kotor area are Serbs (41.89%) and Montenegrins (34.68%) with some Croats (7.61%).
The three municipalities making up the Bay of Kotor region have a total population of 71,443 (2003 census):
Herceg-Novi = 33,971 (17,818 Serbs; 9,651 Montenegrins; 831 Croats)
Kotor = 23,481 (11,002 Montenegrins; 7,197 Serbs; 1,842 Croats)
Tivat = 13,991 (4,911 Serbs; 4,126 Montenegrins; 2,761 Croats)
Of these, 76% are Orthodox Christians and 11% are Catholics.
 Ethnic groups in Boka
Ethnic composition of 3 Boka municipalities in 2003.
 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.
In 1991 Croats comprised 8% of the Bay of Kotor, and according to the 2003 Census the percent of Croats was 6.41%
Municipalities of the Bay of Kotor (Kotor, Herceg Novi and Tivat) within Montenegro
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.
On the landward side, the long walls running from the fortified old town of Kotor to the castle of Saint John, far above, formed a striking feature in the landscape; and the heights of the Krivošije (Krivoscie), a group of barren plateaus in Mount Orjen, were crowned by small forts.
There are many interesting places on the shores of the Bay of Kotor. Herceg Novi has an Orthodox convent of St. Sava nearby (Savina monastery) standing amid beautiful gardens. It was founded in the 16th century and contains many fine specimens of 17th century silversmiths' work. Eight miles (12.87 km) east of Herceg Novi, there is a Benedictine monastery on a small island opposite Perast (Perasto). Perast itself was for a time an independent state in the 14th century.
Meteorological station on Orjen in the hinterland of the Bay
The Bay of Kotor lies within the Mediterranean subtropical belt. While summers are hot and sunny, autumn, winter and spring are rainy seasons. It is the climate type of the Mediterranean but modifications exist in the vast region. A peculiarity of the littoral Dinarids is the precipitation regime as at the Bay of Kotor, Mt. Orjen receives Europe's most heavy precipitation. Just as the monsoon rain is seasonally distributed, so too November thunderstorms sometimes pour 2000 l of water in several days, while August is frequently completely dry, leading to forest fires. With a maximum discharge of 200 m³/s of water 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.
Station Height [m] Type Character Precipitation [mm] Snow
Zubacki kabao 1894 D perhumid Mediterranean snowclimate ca. 6250 ap. 140 days
Crkvice 940 Cfsb (fs= without summerdryness), perhumid Mediterranean mountain climate 4926 70 days
Risan 0 Cs’’a (s’’= double winter rain season), perhumid Mediterranean coast climate 3500 0.4 days
Two wind systems are noteworthy for their ecological significance: Bora and Jugo. Strong cold downslope winds of the Bora type appear in winter and are most severe in the Bay of Risan. Gusts reach 250 km/h and can lead to a significant fall of temperatures in several hours with freezing events problematic for most of the Mediterranean cultures. Bora weather situations are frequent and sailors keep an eye on the mountains as cap clouds indicate an imminent Bora event. Jugo is a warm humid wind and is important as it brings heavy rain. It appears throughout the year but is usually concentrated in autumn and spring.
Photo: Virtuelne setnje