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Bar, Old Town

Text and photographs: Djordjije Kalezic

In Bar, cultures meet and seem to mix in breathtaking ways.  In the intervening thousands of years since being settled during Neolithic times, Bar has continued to grow while maintaining ancient monuments to the many cultures that left their imprint on Bar.  In a nutshell, Bar is an important destination for travelers looking to taste all that Montenegro has to offer in a single, magnificent place.
A bustling seaport and major seat of Montenegro’s maritime commerce, Bar stretches it’s legs along the sea as we stretch ours across the pristine sands of nearby Sutorman beach.  As you leave the water’s edge in Bar and proceed towards the mountain, you encounter Old Town Bar.

Old Town Bar is one of those magical places where modern residents live in the shadow of Turkish baths, Roman aqueducts and a citadel where the first stones were laid over 1000 years ago.  The Montenegrin government has been pursuing an ambitious project to completely restore Old Town Bar and make it into a living museum, and this emphasizes the important the Old Town Bar has on local Montenegrin tourism, and also as a cultural, religious, and historical icon for the entire nation.  Other notable landmarks in Old Town Bar include the ruins of King Nicola’s castle, Haj Nehaj fortress, and Saint Veneranda church. Also worth investigating in Old Town Bar: the Bishop’s palace, the ancient walls, and the gunpowder store.

Beneath our feet as we step across Old Town Bar’s cobbled streets, we can only imagine what treasures Bar seems to hide from our view. On the highest point near the Citadel you can feel the ages spread out beneath you and you can almost imagine the caravans which winded their way along the old road from Lake Skadar, through the ravines cut deep into Rumija mountain where ancient olive groves, some with 2000 year old trees, still lend their fruits to Bar’s excellent olive oil.

When we speak about Montenegro we think about its rich history, tranquil seaside beaches, or perhaps beautiful villages tucked into serene mountainsides. All of these factors that make Montenegro so very alluring seem to coincide in the ancient town of Bar.

If we take one thing away from Bar, especially after visiting Old Town Bar, it should be that Montenegro’s history spans thousands of years and many cultures, each which have left their own mark on Bar, Old Town Bar, and Montenegro itself.  These small imprints of Montenegro’s cultural history can be seen on the rocky slopes of Sutorman and Lisinje, where Old Town Bar proudly displays it’s stone buildings that seemingly leap from the mountainside while blending into it’s rough beauty at the same time.  The city has developed into a bustling port in modern times, with modern amenities and a reputation for impressive beaches nearby.

You can read the history of Old Bar in other places. Or you can simply come and look, run your hand over the rock, pass through the archway of the gates, up the steps to Old Town Bar, and breath in the history of many thousands of years.

To arrive to Bar, you can travel along the breathtaking Adriatic motorway which visits many of Montenegro’s most spectacular seaside towns.  Alternatively, Bar is only 40 kilometers from Podgorica International Airport (TGD) and 50 kilometers from the city of Podgorica itself.

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