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Name: Bay of Kotor

Boka Kotorska

Бока Kоторска
Position: Southwest Montenegromarker
Rivers: Karst hydrology, Sopot, Škurda

submerged sources
Destination: Sea
Settlements: Kotormarker, Herceg Novimarker,

Tivatmarker, Budvamarker, Risan

Dobrotamarker, Perast
Records: Largest bay in the Adriatic,

submerged river canyon

(Bokeljska rijeka)
Water Area: 87 km²
Max depth: 60 m
Average depth: 27.3 m
Water content: 2412, 306 km³ (2,4 mrd m³)
Highest point: Orjenmarker = 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

The Bay of Kotor (Croatian, Montenegrin, Serbian: Boka Kotorska, Cyrillic script: Бока Которска) in south-western Montenegromarker and south-eastern Croatiamarker, is a winding bay on the Adriatic Seamarker. 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 Orjenmarker. 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 Kotormarker, Risan, Tivatmarker, Perast, Herceg Novimarker and Budvamarker 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. Rhizon submitted to Romemarker in 168 BC, at the same time that Acrivium, or Acruvium, the modern Kotormarker, 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 Bulgariamarker and then to Serbiamarker 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 Republicmarker. Part of the Bay of Kotor area was conquered by the Turks at the end of the 15th century, and the Venetian Republicmarker 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 Republicmarker, 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 Catholic majority.
The Bokeljs 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 Montenegromarker with Russian help by Episcop of Cetinjemarker 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 Empiremarker (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 Lovćenmarker, 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 Serbsmarker. The State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs joined the Kingdom of Montenegro and the Kingdom of Serbiamarker. Within a month, the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenesmarker 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 Dobrotamarker, Prčanj, Stoliv, Kontada of Kotormarker, and Perast.

The population of the municipalities, only coastal settlements, of Boka in 1880:
  • Herceg-Novimarker = 3,314 Orthodox Christians, 1,469 Catholics
  • Kotormarker = 7,051 Catholics, 3,077 Orthodox Christians
  • Risan = 1,910 Orthodox Christians, 860 Catholics

In Kotormarker 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-Novimarker = 3,377 Orthodox Christians, 1,274 Catholics
  • Kotormarker = 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%) Serbo-Croats
  • 842 (2.27%) Germans
  • 731 (1.97%) Italians
  • 1,029 (2.77%) others

The population of the municipalities of Boka in 1900, all settlements:
  • Budvamarker = 5,526 Orthodox Christians, 1,537 Catholics
  • Herceg-Novimarker = 7,377 Orthodox Christians, 2,198 Catholics
  • Kotormarker = 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-Novimarker = 3,893 Orthodox Christians, 2,599 Catholics
  • Kotormarker = 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 Kotormarker there were 22,823 inhabitants of which 13,002 were Catholics and 9,331 were Orthodox.
Historic map of the Bay of Kotor.

From 1918, the Bay of Kotor was part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenesmarker (renamed Kingdom of Yugoslaviamarker in 1929). Between 1918 and 1922 the region was a separate county administered from Kotormarker (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 Montenegromarker.

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 Catholic, mostly declaring themselves as Croats. 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):

Of these, 76% are Orthodox Christians and 11% are Catholics.

Ethnic groups in Boka

Ethnic composition of 3 Boka municipalities in 2003.

Serbs and Montenegrins

Slavic tribes 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 Roman Catholic majority in 1910. However, Roman Catholics are not always to be identified with Croats.

The Bokelj Marine 809 (Bokeljska mornarica 809) is a fraternal society whose aim is to preserve maritime tradition.

In 1893, the Croatian Home (Hrvatski dom) was opened in Kotormarker.

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 Tivatmarker (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 Novimarker (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 Kotormarker 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 Orjenmarker, were crowned by small forts.

There are many interesting places on the shores of the Bay of Kotor. Herceg Novimarker 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.


Bay of Kotor lies within the Mediterraneanmarker 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 spring, 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 kabaomarker 1894 D perhumid Mediterranean snowclimate ca. 6250 ap. 140 days
Crkvicemarker 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
*classification scheme after Köppen

Two wind system are noteworthy for their ecological significance: Bora and Jugo. Strong cold downslope wind 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.

Monthly and yearly precipitation ranges in Bay of Kotor:
Station Period Height [m] I II III IV V VI VII VIII IX X XI XII I-XII [mm/m²a]
Herceg Novimarker 1961-1984 40 230 221 183 135 130 73 28 45 160 181 326 262 1974
Risan 1961-1984 40 405 342 340 235 153 101 66 123 188 295 423 434 3105
Grahovo 1961-1984 710 351 324 305 251 142 94 55 103 202 416 508 473 3224
Podvrsnik 1961-1984 630 407 398 367 305 151 101 77 132 238 465 593 586 3820
Vrbanje 1961-1984 1010 472 390 388 321 181 104 70 122 224 369 565 536 3742
Knezlaz 1961-1984 620 547 472 473 373 207 120 72 136 268 400 629 661 4358
Crkvicemarker 1961-1984 940 610 499 503 398 198 135 82 155 295 502 714 683 4774
Ivan. Korita 1960-1984 1350 434 460 742 472 128 198 74 46 94 300 694 972 4614
Goli vrh 1893-1913 1311 271 286 307 226 188 148 75 70 215 473 415 327 3129
Jankov vrh 1890-1909 1017 424 386 389 346 212 124 55 58 202 484 579 501 3750


Image:Cathedral Kotor.JPG|Cathedral of Saint Tryphon (Sv. Tripun) in Kotormarker.Image:St-Georges_ND-du-Récif.JPG|Saint-George and Our-Lady-of-the-Reef, two islands off Perast.Image:Church Perast.JPG|Church in Perast.Image:Bay of Kotor Illiryan fortresses.jpg|Bay of Kotor and Illyrian fortresses on the hills 1)Risan 2)Gosici 3)Kremalj (Mirac)Image:Zatoka kotorska 02.jpg|Kotor bay from old fantastic road to Cetinje.
4)Adriatic Sea


  1. Odjeci slavnih vremena - Tomislav Grgurević,
  2. Boka kotorska: Etnički sastav u razdoblju austrijske uprave (1814.-1918. g.),Ivan Crkvenčić, Antun Schaller, Hrvatski geografski glasnik 68/1, 51-72 (2006),

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