Gulf of Kotor

Name: Bay of Kotor
Boka Kotorska
Бока Kоторска
Position: Southwest Montenegro
Rivers: Karst hydrology, Sopot, Škurda
submerged sources
Destination: Sea
Settlements: Kotor, Herceg Novi,
Tivat, Budva, Risan
Dobrota, Perast, Prčanj
Records: 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: 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

UNESCO World Heritage Site
Part of the Bay of Kotor is included in the Natural and Culturo-Historical Region of Kotor
Name as inscribed on the World Heritage List
Type Cultural
Criteria i, ii, iii, iv
Reference UNESCO region Europe and North America
Inscription history
Inscription 1979 (3rd Session)
Extensions 1979-2003

The Bay of Kotor (

  1. REDIRECT , pronounced [bɔ̂ka kɔ̂tɔrskaː]) is a winding bay of the Adriatic Sea in southwestern Montenegro. 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.

The bay is about 28 km long from the open sea to the harbor of the city of Kotor. It is surrounded by mountains of Orjen on the west and Lovćen on the east. The narrowest section, Verige strait, is only 300 m long. As of 2013, it can be crossed by a ferryboat, but Montenegro is planning to build a bridge to span the strait, the so-called Verige Bridge.

The bay has been inhabited since antiquity. Its well preserved medieval towns of Kotor, Risan, Tivat, Perast, Prčanj and Herceg Novi, along with their natural surroundings, are major tourist attractions. Natural and Culturo-Historical Region of Kotor has been a World Heritage Site since 1979.

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 Orthodox majority, and the part that was under Venetian rule had a Catholic majority.

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 the 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 in 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.

An attempt was made to take the bay by the Kingdom of Montenegro during World War I. It was bombarded from Lovćen, but by 1916 Austro-Hungary had defeated Montenegro. On 7 November 1918 the Serbian army entered the bay and was greeted by the people as liberators. It became 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 was formed and was renamed as Yugoslavia in 1929. The bay was a municipality of Dalmatia until it was, as 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
  • 1,029 (2.77%)other

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 the coastal area of Bay of Kotor there were 22,823 inhabitants of which 13,002 were Catholics and 9,331 were Orthodox.

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):

Of these, 86% are Orthodox Christians and 12% are Catholics.

Ethnic groups in Boka

Serbs & Montenegrins

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.

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%.[1]


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.

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 Bay of Tivat.

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 near (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.


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 one of the wettest places in Europe, with Europe's wettest inhabited areas (although certain Icelandic glaciers are wetter[2]). The littoral Dinarids and the Prokletije mountains receive the most precipitation, 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 large amounts 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.

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

* classification scheme after Köppen

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 Mediterranean cultures generally adapted to frost-free conditions. 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 Novi 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
Vrbanj 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
Crkvice 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



  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),

See also


External links

  • Kotor town and Bay of Kotor Photos
  • Bay of Kotor in Montenegro

Coordinates: 42°26′N 18°38′E / 42.433°N 18.633°E / 42.433; 18.633

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