Bar travel guide – Jewel in King Nikola’s crown

What is Bar? Bar isn’t only a town; Bar is so many things – perfect combination of rich nature and men’s hardworking hands which added to the beauty of nature. They say that sunsets are the most beautiful  in this part of Montenegro, because of the way the unusual green color of olive leaves reflects the sun rays.

The town is surrounded by the blue sea on one side and with the magnificent mountain Rumija on the other. On the other side of Rumija there is a magical Skadar Lake. All this is a part of Bar municipality, which is why they often say that Bar is a city on two magical coasts.

The first thing you can see in Bar are wide boulevards. They are very spacious and they give you a feeling of freedom as they pull you into a city life. You will immediately notice that the town is, in an unusually nice way, in perfect harmony with nature.

But with God too. At a relatively short distance, there are new monumental buildings: the Orthodox temple, the Catholic church and the mosque. Religious tolerance and harmonious coexistence of the people of different religions have a long tradition here, and we can say that this is what makes Bar recognizable.

At the city you will be greeted by Orthodox Temple of St. Vladimir. A magnificent building at the very entrance to the city, which adds to its significance. This second largest temple in Montenegro, is as beautiful as the one in Podgorica. The construction lasted from 2002 to 2016 and it was financed with voluntary contributions of believers from Montenegro, Serbia, Russia and Ukraine, and in accordance with the Bar tradition, a considerable part of the funds for the construction of this temple was received from local Catholics and Muslims.

Both the exterior and the interior of this temple are impressive. 4800m2 of interior was painted by Anastasije Radovic and his team. It took them a year and a half to finish their work. For comparison, Decani monastery, which is the same size, was painted for 16 years. The artist insisted on old, somewhat forgotten technique. He applied paint on fresh lime plaster. This technique is complex, complicated and expensive, the lime should be at least four years old, and frescoes made this way do not fade, and they get better in time.

One of the best frescoes is “The Virgin Wider than the Heaven”. Visitors say they get the impression that the Virgin is hugging them with her arms wide open. Apart from this fresco, dome frescoes are also impressive, they depict the scene of the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles. Frescoes on the wall depict the saints of all people of the world. There are about 130 saints on one and 130 saints on the other wall.

The temple is located in the very center of the city. At the main city intersection, you will first notice an unusual building that resembles a spaceship that landed there. You will get the feeling that people are used to seeing this spaceship and don’t notice it anymore. But don’t worry, it is actually a Department store from the time of Yugoslavia. Today it is full of shops and restaurants. You will not be abducted, and no one will perform experiments on you, so no need to worry! Opposite the shopping mall there is a monument to the prince and Saint John Vladimir to whom the church is dedicated to.

One of the streets of the intersection (the left one) leads to the female paradise – a shopping area. The fact that Italy is not very far from Montenegro and that there is a regular ferry boat connection with Bari since 1965, caused the appearance of a large number of boutiques with a large selection of clothes, perhaps the best in Montenegro. It is widely known that Montenegrins prefer Italian products, because of their quality, because of the fantastic design, and they are always ready to pay euro or two more for something that really stands out (according to the saying “I am not rich enough to buy cheap things”).

The other street of the intersection, the right one, leads to the Port of Bar, sea and the promenade. By building the Port of Bar and connecting it with Belgrade through the railway, Bar became an epitome of the port city, which is why the beauty of its magnificent nature became somewhat forgotten. Pure evidence that money often comes first.

The construction of the port started at 1905 and the first rock of the foundation was set from the famous yacht “Rumija” that belonged to Montenegrin king Nikola. This yacht is considered to be one of the most beautiful in his possession, and it sank in the waters of Bar. Port suffered significant damage in both world wars, as well as during the last earthquake in 1979. It bloomed in the time of Yugoslavia, when it became an important commercial connection with Belgrade, allowing the loading and unloading of 4.5 million tons of goods per year. The sanctions against Serbia and Montenegro in the 1990s dramatically reflected on the operations of the port.

Near the port there is a “zero kilometer” – a unique geographical point from which distance to other cities in the world is calculated. The first “zero kilometer” was built by Caesar Augustus in the Old Rome and was called by Miliarium Aureum, and that is where the saying “All roads lead to Rome” comes from. There are many cities in the world with a “zero point”, and the one in Bar is different because it shows the distance between tourist attractions, not the cities. Thus you can read the distances from Bar to Skadar Lake, Acropolis, Copacabana, Taj Mahal, Gracanica, Hilandar, Mecca, Jerusalem, Hagia Sophia, Kalemegdan, Etna…

Bar has a few kilometers long promenade, where it is worthwhile to spend time visiting the castle of King Nikola. Bar is the first coastal city that, after the three centuries of Turkish rule, has united with Montenegro, and with it Montenegro gets the exit to the sea after a long time, and the city becomes very valuable for the country. Here the king enjoyed his yachts, and he built for his daughter Zorka and his son-in-law, Prince Petar Karađorđević, a beautiful complex with a chapel, towers, a winter garden and a greenhouse  with an unusual shape and stainless construction (a gift from the Italian king Emanuel). The building serves a completely different purpose today – it is converted to the local museum of the city, occasionally cultural and artistic events are organized here, and the former greenhouse is now  a restaurant “Prince’s Garden”.

Near the palace, one can find the grave from 2900 BC, discovered not far away from Bar, together with remains of local duke, his wife and child inside.

On the promenade there is a monument to the first known, but basically unknown, Slavic writer – Pop Dukljanin. This high priest from Bar wrote in the 12th century the book “Bar Genealogy”, it is the first and oldest written source about the history of Montenegro, Croatia and Serbia. As the authenticity of the data presented in this book can not be established with certainty, the book occupies a more important place in the history of literature than as a historical source, but it is precisely in it that we find one of the most beautiful Slavic legends: The Legend of Vladimir and Kosara.

The Catholic Church of St. Peter the Apostle is the youngest church in Bar. Its construction began in 2010 and lasted until 2017. The construction of this beautiful church cost 3.5 million euros, and it was built with the help of church organizations and individuals from Italy, Germany, the Vatican and the United States. At the opening of the church Mass was led in 3 different languages ​​(Montenegrin, Albanian and Latin), and the church received a large number of gifts. It should be noted that this church is a part of Archdiocese of Bar, which is also the oldest religious institution in Montenegro. In the XI century, Bar became the Archdiocese, and the Roman Pope, gave the authority over three dioceses Serbia, Bosnia and Travunia to the Archbishop of Bar. Today the Archbishops of Bar bare titles Primates of Serbia. (In the Catholic Church of St. Nicholas was once the center of the Archdiocese of Bar)

On the road to the inevitable Old Bar, you will see the third large religious building in the city – the impressive mosque of Selimi, located within one of the largest Islamic centers in the Balkans. The construction of this magnificent building lasted from 2002 to 2014, and it was built thanks to donations of believers from this region, while half of the funds (two million) were donated by the Turkish government. A beautiful white stone for the construction of the complex arrived from Turkey. Of the 46,000 inhabitants of Bar, a third are Muslims who now have not only a representative mosque in this Islamic Center, but also classrooms, information cabinets, kindergarten, library, reading room, research center, restaurant, wedding hall, simultaneous translation hall, religious requisites shop, guest suites, sports and congress hall… of course, all this is a part of a complex with area of 4000m2!

Old Bar is one of the most interesting places in Bar. With its specific atmosphere and ambiance, it’s a place you will return to for sure. This is an abandoned city, almost completely in ruins, severely damaged during the liberation from the Turks, as well as during the earthquake. Almost nothing is left of the city where different cultures integrated and left their mark, mostly the city walls and the walls here and there. However, several buildings were restored after the earthquake so we can get the idea how the city used to look like. A well preserved citadel is also here, but also a restored clock tower, a Turkish bath, a gunpowder storage, a palace, an impressive and unique aqueduct in Montenegro… The reason I love the old Bar is that it always leaves a lot to your imagination, and I always feel like a research adventurer walking through the “Pompey on the eastern Adriatic” as they used to call this city.

For the end, go and see the old olive tree – a recognizable symbol of this city. The “Old Lady”, as it is called here, is 2,240 years old and is considered the third oldest in the world. It is located in Mirovica and has a connection with the word peace, since under its crown people have reconciled, especially during important religious holidays. Now, weddings from fairy tales are organized here, and visitors form three circles around the tree: for happiness, health and love. You should do it too, because if nothing else, it’s definitely good for your figure ☺.

4 Replies to “Bar travel guide – Jewel in King Nikola’s crown”

  1. What a joy to see your wonderful photographs. Winter has been far too long here in Scotland and we are just longing for some warmth and sunshine.

  2. Another masterpiece and I well remember us visiting Bar, both old town and the new Orthodox Temple to St Vladlmir. Happy memories!!

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