By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises
Montenegro is a ten-year-old nation with a thousand-year back story and some spectacular scenery at sea level and up in the mountains that fill much of the country’s interior.
Kotor, the port we are visiting, presents one of the most spectacular views offered from a cruise ship: an ancient city carved into the face of a mountain.
Silver Cloud at the dock in Kotor today
Montenegro, part of what was once Yugoslavia, is one of the smaller countries in the world: about 14,000 square kilometers or 5,300 square miles.
A KOTOR ALBUM
Our approach to Kotor is through a winding waterway that some tourist guides insist on calling a fjord. That’s not technically correct: a fjord is a long, narrow inlet with steep sides or cliffs in a valley carved by glaciers.
Nearly all of the earth’s glaciers are at or near the poles, with only a few way up high in mountains near the planet’s mid-section.
What we’ve got in Kotor is a drowned river valley. The river was long ago covered over by a rising sea level in the region.
On our approach just short of Kotor is a bay where we make a 90-degree turn to starboard.
Directly ahead is the little town of Perast, which under the Venetians was a very prosperous mini-maritime state with its own fleet and a bit of wealth.
And offshore are two islets.
One is a natural islet, Sveti Đorđe, the Island of Saint George, which contains a Benedictine Monastery from the 12th century and an ancient graveyard.
The second island is Our Lady of the Rocks. According to legend, local seamen found an icon of Madonna and Child on a rock in the sea at this location on July 22, 1452.
The seamen were said to have made an oath: upon returning from each successful voyage, they laid a rock in the Bay. Over time, the islet gradually emerged from the sea.
The custom of throwing rocks into the sea continues; every year at sunset on July 22, a small flotilla of boats sails into the bay for an event called fašinada, throwing rocks into the sea widening the surface of the island, takes place.
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