Stari Bar, MontenegroIf you arrive by ferry to Montenegro, you’ll most likely be arriving in the port city of Bar. Although Bar itself is not worthy of exploration, the old town – Stari Bar  – is just 5 kilometers from the port and it is a wonderful place to visit.

The picturesque ruins are located on a steep cliff, at the base of Mount Rumija. It is hot in the summertime and we enjoyed exploring here in the early morning, before the heat truly set in. These are the suggestive ruins of the old settlement of Bar, before it moved along the coast.

Stari Bar, MontenegroPerched on a hill with dramatic valleys below it, much of the town was destroyed in 1878 during the fighting between the Montenegrins and Ottomans, which led to the eventual annexation of Bar and Ulcinj to Montenegro. It is worth it to climb up to the Citadel for the dramatic views over the rugged valley below.

The original settlement was probably built there because of its strategic location – perched along a cliff, with clear views of invaders – and the abundance of drinking water from a  natural spring nearby.

The winding streets and ruins make for pleasurable wandering. The ruins include medieval churches dating from the 9th, 13th and 14th centuries and encompass architectural elements from successive Byzantine, Venetian and Ottoman rule.

2012_January_Stari_Bar3There is also a well-preserved hammam built during the Ottoman reign.

Be sure to enjoy wandering around Stari Bar on your visit to Montenegro. And take a look at some of my earlier posts on places to visit in Montenegro, including the seaside town of Perast, the Durmitor National Park and the Balkans’  largest lake, Skadarsko jezero.