boka kotorska OR BOKA BAY
Sailing in from the open sea, one first comes across the Herceg Novi bay but with Mt Orjen (1895m) above it, than through the Kumbor straits to the lofty Tivat bay.Through Verige, the narrowest point of the Gulf, one sees the bay of Risan to the north and the long bay of Kotor to the south, both surrounded with lofty mountains and ending with with the historic town of Kotor, nested directly below the steeps inside of Mt.Lovćen (1749m).
The gulf is often mistakenly considered to be a fjord but is in fact a river bed which sank when the sea level rose in the distant geological past. The magnificent and unique natural beauty of Boka Kotorska doesn’t allow one stay indifferent and the exclamation of poet Ljuba Nenadović “and I wonder of the sun, how it can set, when a beauty such as this nowhere will be met” reflects precisely to kind of sentiment one takes with him. Small towns with baroque mansions erected by sea captains and villages with stone houses dot the sides of the bay. The lush greenery of cypresses, olive or lemon trees and variety of other Mediterranean flora along the coast stand in stark contrast to the forbiddingly bare sides of the mountains to the rear, rich in caves and various karst formations.
To the surprise of many, the Gulf of Kotor is one of the rainiest regions in Europe, with a village of Crkvice above Risan holding the record with annual average of 5317mm of rainfall per square meter. This is due to the fact that warm sea air cools off abruptly as it climbs the vertical sides of the mountains surrounding Boka. The same mountains shelter most of the Gulf from the sun and create a climate and vegetation in many aspects different to the rest of the coastline. On a sunny winter’s day one can enjoy the mild climate of the coast and then make an excursion to the show covered mountains surrounding the Gulf.
The whole of Boka is one huge harbor sheltered from the strong winds with ideal conditions for sailing. It is therefore no wonder that inhabitants (the Bokelji, as they are called) have always been noted for their nautical skills and that in the era of sailing ships they roamed of peace and fighting against the Muslims in the times of war. Until recently the only thing connecting the villages of the Gulf was the sea , and also it was their only connection to the other world. Today a road circulates around the Gulf but to fully enjoy its wonders one should embark on a boat trip.
Boka had a turbulent history. In ancient times it was called Sinus Rhisonicus-the Bay of Risan, after the largest town, formerly the seat of its largest town, formerly the seat of Illyrian kings and their Slavic princedoms of the Middle Ages which were not of a seafaring nature its waters presented the border between Travunija in the north of Duklja in the south. The first to region nautical glory were the mariners of Kotor during the times of Nemanjić Serbia as they amassed great wealth through trade and adorned their town with palaces and churches. Facing the Turks threat the townships of the Gulf embraced Venetian rule and after several wars between these two world powers Boka was divided into half, exactly as it was in the early Middle Ages. In 1689 the Turks were driven away and Boka lived its hay day with many of its township gaining prosperity through their skilful sailors- Perast, Prčanj, Dobrota, Topla, Orahovac, Herceg Novi, Morinj-all of these places had substantial fleets and gave many famous captains such as Matija Zmajević, the admiral of the Russian Baltic fleet, or Ivo Visin, the first captain of Austro-Hungary to sail around the world.
From their journeys these men brought exotic plant species, oriental treasures and the air of the world travelers to the Gulf but never lost the love for their native region, their language and customs. These feelings came to life after the fall of the Venetian Republic when Boka changed hands several times between the Austrians, French, Russians and the English but the Bokelji tried to unite when their brethren from Montenegro on two different occasions .
Boka was awarded to Austria who quickly started developing its potential as a natural harbour and turned it into the main base for its war fleet. Since 1918 Boka is united with Montenegro with whom it shares many similarities but is also very different in many aspects. Although fierce warriors on their unbeatable ships, the Bokelji also grew to be refined and gentle in comparison with the roughness of the highlanders and to more inclined towards the Mediterranean and to be more inclined towards the Mediterranean and Italy, canzone and pastas. A mix of Orthodox and Catholic who have lived here peacefully for centuries adds to the variety of customs and traditions of the region celebrated through the carnivals of Kotor, religious ceremonies of Perast or the Mimosa festival of Herceg Novi.
Montenegro Hostel Team