Running from Herceg Novi to Klinci in a virtual circle off Montenegro’s indented Adriatic coastline, the Bay of Kotor (Boka Kotorska or simply ‘Boka’) is a fjord-like inlet that wraps itself around the ever-higher mountains of the Dinaric Alps as it creeps inland, folding in upon itself in a series of bays before passing through the narrow Strait of Verige and splitting into two fat fingers. Strictly speaking it is a ria – a sunken river valley created after the Last Ice Age – and is 17.5 miles (28 km) in length, although its indented shoreline weaves through craggy landscapes for more than 67 miles (107 km). The bay is bordered by some of Montenegro’s most fascinating towns, from the fourth-century Roman remains of Risan to the medieval beauty of Old Town Kotor and the Venetian palazzi of Perast, all touched culturally and architecturally by the many different empires that have put down roots here.
Sitting on the edge of an inlet that wends inland from the sea, the Montenegrin town of Kotor has its origins back in Roman times; as an important Adriatic port it was fortified from the ninth century onwards, with the Venetian occupiers of the town eventually finishing the ramparts in the 14th century, Extending three miles (4.5 km) around Kotor Old Town, the walls rise steeply out of the sea at their base and extend steeply up the slopes of St John’s Hill behind the Old Town. Made of grey limestone, at points the walls measure several meters and can be circumnavigated on foot for fine views of the red-roofed stone townhouses and for panoramas across the emerald waters of the Bay of Kotor. Along the cobbled, circular pathway are several fortresses and churches, including those dedicated to St Ivan and Our Lady of the Remedy, leading up to the crumbling ruins of the Fortress of St John, which is about 850 feet (260 meters) above sea level.