Destinations / Coastal region
Stari Bar | Montenegro - The ancient townSunday, February 6, 2011 · Region Coastal region · Comments
From the centre of Bar it is just 5 kilometers up the mountain to the ancient town of Stari Bar, with it's crumbling ruins of the original old town which was severely damaged during a 19th century clash between Montenegrins and Turks.
Getting to Stari Bar
Access to the site is not for free as I recall but can costs as little as $ 1 to $ 2 dollars. The Stari bar site is located at the foot of Mount Remija (1594 m), has some spectacular views over the city of Bar and the Meditterean Coastline and is surrounded by hills covered in centuries old olive tress. At the entrance you can buy the brochure which is very helpful and worthwhile to navigate your way through the site. Just arriving in Stari bar gives you a sense of the old times, with many coloured houses at the foot of the site, decorated with the most amazing colours.
History of Stari Bar
It is believed that there was a settlement in Stari bar as early as 800 BC, which was demolished by Romans somewhere around the 3th century BC. The Romans laid the groundwork for the current city of Bar as they believed the centre should be moved closer to the Sea. In the 6th century, Emperor Justinian established a new fortified tower and it is believed that around the 10th century the site became known as Antinbaris, which means opposite of the Italian named city of Bari.
Stari Bar on the rise
By this time Stari bar had become one of the Adriatic's key political and economic centres. Inhabitants fo Stari Bar were living mostly from selling craftwork, olive oil and salt trade. In the 14th century the site was fortified further during the Balsic dynasty. The last fortifications were implemented by Venetians who ruled the Adriatic during the 15th and 16th century.
The destruction and collapse of Stari Bar
Turks rained over the surrounding territories fromt eh 16th until the 19th century and the town of Stari Bar was mostly destroyed during the fierce fights between Turks and Montenegrins in 1878. A massive earthquake in the region known as the 1979 earthquake put the last remaining buildings to the ground. In the 1980's projects were started to restore and renovate some of the major buildings, but the arrival of Tourism basically put all work to a standstill. The money to restore the rest of the buildings has dried up, which is really a painful side compared to the investments that are being made in hotels and apartment buildings all around, whilst Stari Bar is one of the most ancient site sof Montenegro.
Some of the major highlights in current Stari Bar
You enter the site through the customs house, which is one of the most completed buildings. In the Western part of Stari bar you will find the remains of the St. Nicolas's Church, which displays some remarkable Byzantine era frescos. Unfortunately the frescos aren't protected and left open for weather influences. Very nice views from the valley below can be seen from the Old Citadel including the almost completely restored 17th century aquaduct. Other restored buildings include the St. John's Church, the main palace (which is now an art studio) and the St. Venerande's Church dating back to the 14th century. At the heart of the complex one finds the splendidly restored Turkish bads (amam) and the completely rebuilt clocktower.