In the 9th century, Bar was known as Antivari/Antibari and remained under the same name, despite a change of rulership when duke Vojislav of Zeta defeated the Byzantine army in 1042. His son, Mihailo, was crowned King in 1077.
Twelve years later, in 1089, Bar became the seat of the archbishopric and the town came under Serbian rule—Stefan Nemanja of the Nemanjic dynasty, ruled until 1183.
Although the name of the first archbishop is still unknown, remnants of Bar’s first cathedral, built in the 6th century, can be found near the harbor.
The most important tourist site in Bar is the Stari Bar, also known as Old Bar. Stari Bar, unlike the newer parts of the city, is not near the sea—it instead rests on a hill, where it was first erected by the Illyrians as a fortified city. Inside the Stari Bar, tourists will find the remains of the two main churches of the old city, St. Catherine (14th century) and St. Veneranda (15th century), along with the Church of St. Nikola, erected in 1288 and the massive aqueduct that supplied the town with fresh water.
But the city’s rich, cultural and architectural beauty doesn’t only come from the Nemanjic or Illryian rule. Throughout time, the city was also ruled by the Romans, the Venetians and even the Turks, who took over in 1571 and ruled for over 300 years. It was not until 1878 that the Montenegrins took control of Bar—this was the same year that Montenegro received governmental status at the Berlin Congress—and during this time, Stari Bar was nearly destroyed by accidental explosions caused by the Montenegrin army. The old city incurred further damagers in the 1979 earthquake.
After control of the city transferred to the Montenegrins in 1878, the name of the city changed as well, to Pristan, or Anchorage, and the Montenegrins built the city’s first harbor. In 1976, after the railway made the connection between Belgrade and Bar, the city rose to be a true traffic hub and economic force for Montenegro.
Despite the important of Bar as a traffic hub for Montenegro, the city is anything but touristy. There are only a few attractions worth visiting in the city. The Palace of King Nikola is located on the promenade, facing the sea and was built in 1885 with a chapel and a winter garden. The palace now houses a local museum with a section devoted to the narrow gauge railway that ran from Bar to Virpazar in 1908.
Renovations to the city made in the 16th century under Venetian rule, changed the entrance to the city from a large tower to a church and a relief of St. Mark’s lion that remains well preserved to this day. The Omerbašoća Mosque (1662) still stands facing the entrance alongside the Tomb of Dervish Hassan and a dry drinking foundation with Arabic inscriptions.
In the suburbs, not far from the city’s center stands an olive tree as old as Christianity itself—more than 2009 years. This olive tree symbolizes the lifeblood of Bar and both the olive tree and olive oil are symbols of Bar itself olive oil from Bar is sold at a premium price for both its quality and its taste.
Olive oils from Bar are sold throughout the country, in street markets and in super markets and are extremely popular despite the price, not only because of their taste and quality but also because of the eco-friendly production process.
In addition, this city is known for its summer festival, a veritable multi-arts manifestation of the summer season—an event that truly brings life to this little town, making it not only an important traffic stop for Montenegro, but a truly pleasurable and interesting place to visit.