Pleasure boats from all over the world come to Kotor to enjoy its tranquil surroundings
The Port of Kotor manages a wide array of services for cruise ships, yachts and other passenger vessels in the sheltered bay of Kotor in Montenegro. Boasting modern facilities and outsized capabilities considering the size of the town, the Port takes advantage of 21st century quality and management systems in order to provide an experience normally found in much larger urban populations.
Kotor, the Pearl of the Adriatic
Kotor is an ancient settlement in a new nation. The town sits at the end of a well protected bay on the coast of Montenegro, a country which gained independence in 2006. Archaeologists have found building sites dating back to 2500 BC, and the historical record goes back at least 2300 years. The Bay of Kotor was formed when sea levels rose and filled an old river canyon, and because of its unusual shape the Bay of Kotor is the best natural harbor in the eastern Adriatic.
The fact that the port is surrounded by mountains provides exceptional protection for ships. Gale force winds are rare, waves almost never reach 50 cm, and the voluminous harbor of more than 80 square kilometers experiences tides of about a half meter. Sea currents are weak to moderate, and ships have an easy time coming in and out of the bay.
Ancient Illyrian, Greek and Roman artifacts can be found around the bay, including foundations, marble sculptures and mosaics. The old town of Kotor is nestled at the very end of the bay, and is protected by one of the most unusual city walls anywhere, a three mile long structure that snakes up the steep hillside.
Kotor’s walls are illuminated at night, making a golden halo seen nowhere else in the world.
The walls can be difficult to discern during the daytime, but at night they are lit in a way that emphasizes the fact that Kotor has to be one of the most unusually designed walled cities in the world. The fortifications were built over the course of 1000 years beginning in the ninth century, though they were substantially complete by the 14th century. Tourists who make the climb to the apex of the loop are rewarded with a spectacular view.
The city has recently expanded its port facility to accommodate the increasing number of cruise ships and superyachts whose passengers come to enjoy the scenic, rugged coastline and the medieval character and charm of the village. The lack of a sandy beach means that Kotor doesn’t suffer from the overbuilding of hotels or the somewhat trashy feel that other areas experience during the high tourist season.
Sveti Djordje and Gospa od Skrpjela
Before reaching Kotor, boats pass by two islets in the bay, Sveti Djordje (St. George) and Gospa od Skrpjela (Our Lady of the Rocks). According to legend, on July 22, 1452 two sailors discovered an icon of the Madonna and Child resting in a shallow part of the bay near the small island of St. George, where a monastery built in the 12th century sits. Sailors started a tradition of dropping stones in the spot every time they came home safely from a voyage as an homage, and after a time, an artificial island was created. A small chapel was built, then expanded, and the tradition continued for centuries. Today, the church is covered with silver votive offerings from ship captains leaving the port, and inside is a collection of paintings made by a local artist Tripo Kokolja. Every year on July 22, locals come out to the island at sundown in order to drop stones around it in a tradition called the Fašinada.
The old town of Kotor has a population of only 3,000 while another 9,000 live in the surrounding area. It is one of the best preserved medieval towns anywhere and is listed as a UNESCO World Natural and Historical Heritage Site. It is compact, unspoiled, and full of both Orthodox and Catholic churches, reflecting its history through the centuries. In fact, although today´s population is mostly Orthodox, Kotor is home to the relics of Catholic St. Tryphon, located in the most important cathedral in town and deposited there by Venetian merchants in the ninth century.
Venetian fortifications of Kotor
The city was part of the Venetian Republic from 1420 to 1797. While under Venetian rule, Kotor was besieged by the Ottoman Empire in 1538 and 1657, endured the plague in 1572, and was nearly destroyed by earthquakes in 1563 and 1667. Kotor later fell under French rule, was captured by the British, then ceded to the Austrian Empire until after WWI when it became part of the new country of Yugoslavia.
Entrance to the old town: "What belongs to others we don't want, what is ours we will never surrender."
The port has been an active center for shipping for at least 2,000 years, starting with settlements closer to the sea. The town of Kotor itself was founded during the twelfth century, and for the first seven hundred years sailing ships took advantage of the sheltered harbor. However, since the surrounding area was largely unpopulated and the terrain extremely rugged, Kotor was not what one would consider a very busy port.
Square of Arms
By the nineteenth century, Kotor became a tourist attraction, with steamships stopping at the port to deliver vacationers who came for the medieval ambiance, the monuments and churches, and of course the stunning views. The port facilities were always outsized considering the size of the town, and Kotor grew steadily in importance as a port of call for shipping up and down the coast. Then, in 1966 the Adriatic Highway was completed, allowing for goods and people to move efficiently by land along the eastern Adriatic. Kotor quickly lost its importance for shipping, and regular freight traffic stopped.
The result was that Kotor reverted to a sleepy village with practically no industry. But the views, the weather and the outdoor recreational activities, not to mention the centuries of history, remained. Within a few years, cruise lines and yachts began to see Kotor as an ideal stop precisely because of its lack of commercial traffic.
Kotor Port Becomes a Modern Facility
In 1979 a major earthquake struck, which leveled many of the towns in the region, including the commercial center of Dubrovnik. The port of Kotor was heavily damaged. However, this gave the town an opportunity to modernize with brand new facilities, and an extension of the docks to accommodate larger ships. By the time renovation was done, Kotor was increasing in importance as a maritime recreational center.
Today, the port boasts modern infrastructure capable of accepting the largest cruise ships and meeting the needs of the most demanding yacht owners, some of whose vessels have more than 100 crew members. It is a permanent maritime border crossing and is equipped for international maritime traffic.
A Commitment to Quality
The Port of Kotor manages day to day affairs of the port and coordinates activities of common interest at the port facilities. It is responsible for evaluating bids for works to be done, ensuring environmental and other regulations are followed, and maintaining the efficient flow of maritime traffic. The Port is ISO 9001 AND IS0 14001 Certified, showing a commitment to quality and best business practices.
“KotorMar” Ltd. operated by the Port, is a port and shipping agency whose business it is to provide services to yachts and cruise ships, including berthing, customs and immigration, duty free fuel and provisions, day workers, interpreters, travel agency, concierge, laundry and dry cleaning, tourist services, dry docking and repairs, security, and banking and communications. KotorMar is truly a one stop location for any needs which a tourist in Kotor might need.
A Commitment to the Environment
The Port’s commitment goes beyond merely providing the best service for visitors and locals. It is also proud of its participation in the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). UNIDO helps with the adaptation and adoption of methods, technologies and systems which contribute to the efficient use of natural resources, minimization of wastes and emissions, and reduction of risks from the use of chemicals. Participation is voluntary, but the Port Authority believes that, in its role as a good corporate citizen and as part of its commitment to quality and best practices, that it should take every reasonable step to ensure that environmental and human resource risks are minimized.
The Port Authority also subscribes to the United Nations World Tourism Organization Global Code of Ethics, a strict set of guidelines whose purpose it is to maximize tourism’s benefits while minimizing its potentially negative impact on the environment, cultural heritage and society. Among the Code of Ethics’ principles are the recognition that tourism is a vehicle for individual and collective fulfilment, a factor of sustainable development, and a beneficial activity for the local community. The tourism industry also creates obligations to stakeholders in tourism, including to workers and entrepreneurs in the tourism industry. The Port Authority has given its pledge to adhere to the UNWTO Code of Ethics, a commitment it takes very seriously.
The Port Authority also operates the Yachting Club ”Nautica” in the old town of Kotor. The multipurpose business center provides internet and tourist information, along with drinks, food and showers to customers of the marina. There are also meeting facilities available for art exhibits, receptions and other special events.
The Port Authority’s dedication to the values of Quality shows in its ISO Certifications, the steps it has taken to protect the natural environment, and its commitment to providing the kinds of services normally found at much larger ports.
Because of its commitment to continuous quality improvement, Port Authority of Kotor has been selected to receive the BID International Star Award for Quality for 2015 in the Gold Category at the convention in Geneva.
About BID and the International Star Award for Quality:
BID is a private and independent organization founded in 1984, whose primary activity is business communication orientated towards quality, excellence and innovation in management. A leader in the broadcasting of Quality Culture, BID recognizes those companies and organizations which lead the most important activities in the business world, and is considered the founding organization in the broadcasting of the Culture of Quality, Excellence and Innovation in 179 countries.
The trophy symbolizes a pledge to the principles of Quality Culture. The QC100 Total Quality Management Model, together with the Quality Mix program, media coverage of the convention and its impact on the community and business sector, create an unmatched platform for continuous improvement within the organization and awareness of the achievements of the company at an international level.
Awards are given only to those who are committed to improving their Quality Culture based on the principles of the QC100 Total Quality Management Model. Candidates are proposed by the leaders of previously awarded companies who they consider worthy of the award. Especially meritorious candidates may also be nominated. The International BID Quality Award Selection Committee then chooses the winning companies who will receive the award in New York, Paris, Geneva, Frankfurt, Madrid and London.