17 Oct A Guide to Stari Bar, Montenegro
The old town of Stari Bar is found up in the mountains, an hours walk from the modern city of Bar, in the southeast of Montenegro. Stari Bar actually translates to Old Bar and unfortunately it’s seen it fair share of troubles over the centuries. It had been taken over by the Venetians, the Serbians, the Hungarians and the Ottoman Empire. It was finally reclaimed back by Montenegro in the siege of 1877 after the locals bombed the aqueduct into the town and cut off the water supply. The aqueduct had since been repaired but one hundred years later, in 1979, it was destroyed again by a major earthquake that forced the local community to abandon the town and build Bar closer to the coast. Today, the Old Fortress lies in ruins.
Our visit to Stari Bar..
Stari Bar (Old Bar) is a very quiet place, we arrived early-ish morning, the sun was already up but still this small town had a very sleepy feel to it. We saw only a couple of people on the short hike up to the old fortress who were just opening their restaurants and shops to the slow passing trade. The tranquil feel of this place instantly made us love the area and in fact, the whole country.
We stopped at this cafe on the way down and had the most amazing iced coffees! – free wifi too, which helped us find the 2000 year old olive tree nearby.
As the new city of Bar was built down at the bottom of the mountains, by the water, it has become an important port city for Montenegro. However, the old town of Bar has never been repaired since the main community left after a devastating earthquake. Time has past and there’s now a small population of 2000 people who now live on the outskirts of the fortress, but the original town will never be inhabited again – there’s just too much history that needs to be preserved, which I’m glad as it’s a beautiful place worth visiting. As Stari Bar is slowly being restored to it’s former glory; houses, shops and restaurants have appeared as the tourism slowly builds.
To put this place into perspective, Stari Bar was an important part of this region of Montenegro for more than a 1000 years. What once must have been a truly impressive town, now lays in ruins to visit. With a little imagination you can see why this place had such importance.
The Old Fortress Aqueduct, Stari Bar.
Today, the coast of Montenegro is more known in the country as ‘the playground’ with beach resorts along the entire length. This sounds very touristy, but in fact we found the country to be very quiet, with hardly tourists around the towns and cities. If anyone is looking to escape the business of Croatia but still want the warm weather and affordable prices, Montenegro is your destination every time. Not forgetting the country is rich with history and natural beauty.
Whether you are looking to visit by car, or public transport, or even walking, its not a wasted trip. You will find yourself fascinated. Walking around the fortress can take an hour or two to properly explore the remains of the old fortress settlement. Although we feel we had done everything, time was cut short for us as a coach load of noisy children on a school trip decended through the fortress walls. For a moment it felt like something I had read about when the past empires attacked the Fortress. Fortunately we managed to get some good photos and left before we were deafened.
This made me smile, the concept of the name but also the misspelling 🙂
The Old Olive Tree..
As previously mentioned, near to the Stari Bar Fortress is one of the region’s curiosities, an olive tree reputed to be more than 2,000 years old. Located at Mirovica, the olive tree is claimed to be one of the oldest in olive trees in the world and it is believed to be the oldest tree in Europe. This natural monument is older than any written monument about the city of Bar and its inhabitants and is even protected by the state law in 1963.
The legend says that feuding families would come to the Old Olive Tree and this is where they would make peace.
It cost 1€ to visit, which for a short detour was definitely worth seeing. It’s not every day you see something quite that old!