The Natural and Culturo-Historical Region of Kotor is part of the impressive Bay of Boka Kotorska, a unique natural harbour at the Adriatic coast of Montenegro. The Kotor Region was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1979, due to its Outstanding Universal Value embodied in the quality of architecture in its fortified and open cities, settlements, palaces and monastic ensembles, and their harmonious integration into the cultivated terraced landscape of high rocky hills. The Region bears unique testimony to the exceptionally important role it played over centuries in the spreading of Mediterranean cultures into the Balkans.
The Region includes over ten towns and settlements of distinctive character lined along the naturally complex coast of the Bay, separated by areas of cultivated land or ancient rocky landscape.
Risan, the former centre of Illyrian and Hellenistic culture in this region, has preserved remains of the Illyrian-Hellenistic hill-fort of Gradina, the Roman town of Rhizon, including a Roman villa with mosaics (2nd C. AD), and of the former Turkish town.
From the 6th century A.D. Kotor is the leading town and the main administrative and political centre of the Bay. Kotor is remarkable for its long continuity of history. The original, urban area is encircled by walls, a unique example of urban fortification on the Adriatic. More than thirty churches have been preserved or have existed in the old town. Six of them, from the Romanesque period, are of particular historical value: St. Tryphon’s Cathedral (1166), St. Luke’s (1195), St. Anne’s (12th-13th C.), St. Mary Collegiate (1221), St. Paul’s (1263) and St. Michael’s (6th-14th C.). The town also boasts numerous palaces of old noble families and public buildings. The town had its Statute back in 1301. Artistic and other trades flourished, especially during the Middle Ages, each featuring many workshops. Valuable artefacts and documents, including the oldest books of Kotor’s notaries from 1326, are kept in the museums, churches and archives, notably the Maritime Museum of Montenegro and the Historical Archive of Kotor.
During the 17th and 18th centuries, the neighbouring coastal settlements of Perast, Dobrota, Prčanj and Stoliv came to prominence, remaining nevertheless strongly linked to Kotor. The secular architecture of baroque palaces is prevalent in these settlements.
Perast is distinctive for its baroque churches and palaces, and two islands situated off its seafront: the natural island of St. George, with a Benedictine abbey (9th c.); and Our Lady of the Rock, a man-made island, built by depositing stones and scuttling old ships filled with stones around a small crag.
In addition to its exceptional natural setting, architectural treasures and moveable heritage, the Bay of Boka Kotorska has rich layers of immaterial heritage (the Boka Navy dance, the “Fašinada”, legends, etc.), which all together make it a cultural landscape of outstanding and universal value.