Herceg Novi is a city you cannot not love. Many consider it the most beautiful city on the Adriatic shore and always come back because of it's pleasent climate, beautiful sea and iconic architecture that is almost endemic in a way, because numerous different civilizations had control of the city during the centuries and all left a distinguished footprint on all spheres of society, including architecture.
Herceg Novi was founded over 600 years ago, in 1382. The city itself is located between the mountain Orjen and the entrance to the Bay of Kotor. A unique position no doubt. Provides easy opportunity to experience different things in a single day. You can go for a hike in the mountains in the morning, an excursion along one of the most beautiful bays in the world in the afternoon, and finally go for a swim in the evening. With its 6 centuries of history and stories to tell, and this city really should be a must for everyone who calls himself a traveler to come and visit, and learn, and imerse himself in the mixture of culture, sunny weather, warm sea and pleasent friendly people. You will rarely find something simillar anywhere else.
Its astounding beauty even found its way to the renowned Forbes magazine who listed this destination as on of top 20 budget destinations to visit in 2019.
For a city of only 36 000 inhabitants and a relativly small surface area, it has a lot to offer. Old fortresses, beautiful walkways, stunning churches, charming islands and spectacular viewpoints. We will walk you trough the most significant ones, and let you discover the rest.
Herceg Novi is known as the city of forts. The significance of its geostrategic position during the years has raised the need for fortification of the city in order to protect it. All of them, except the Citadel, still exist intact today, almost untouched by centuries that went on.
Kanli Kula is a monumental fortress in the Old Town, built in 1539 by the Turks and located on the most northern point of the Old town. Kanli Kula means “bloody tower” and this notorious former prison more than lived up to its name during Herceg Novi's years of Turkish rule. In its present form it is a work of Turkish builders, and it has preserved its architectural authenticity from that period, but as different cultures ruled the city, they all left something unique to their style and today we can find evidence of Venetian and Austro-Hungarian architecture in it as well. Today the fort hosts various events, on one of the most beautiful open stages in the region. Film festival, Operosa, Guitar art festival etc, all find the stage of Kanli Kula as a perfect venue for their performances. The fort is one of the main symbols of the city and also found its way on the city’s crest. You can visit the fort even when there are no events, for a symbolic fee.
Forte Mare (Sea fortress) is the second big fortress that was originally built as a defensive fort. It is located on the shore and was design to protect the city’s sea entrance. It was one of the main city fortification units that controlled entrance to the city throughout this town’s rich war history. Like Kanli Kula it hosts some artistic events, usually in the summer, and like Kanli Kula you can visit it even when its empty, and admire its beauty in peace.
The third and final fort in Herceg Novi is Spanjola. The fortress was built by the Spanish in 1538, and was first named after Karlo V, emperor of Rome. The name that it bears today owes to the locals. Even though the outside of the bastion looks impressive, there is little to nothing left on the inside. Spanjola always had a character of a military fortress, all the way until the beginning 20th century. In WWII it was used as a prison for a short period of time.
Don’t be fooled though. Herceg Novi is not just about old forts. Its home to some of the most spectacular looking churches in the Adriatic.
The complex of the Monastery Savina is located 2 km east of Herceg Novi in the unique ambiance of Mediterranean vegetation. It consists of two churches dedicated to the ascension of the Virgin, the monastery dormitory with the treasury and the church of St. Sava, separated at a nearby hill. Church of St. Sava is located on a hill above the dormitory, and for it, the tradition says that it was built by St. Sava in the 13th century. The monastery was even named after him as well as the whole place where it is located. It was later reconstructed by monks from the Tvrdos monastery who started to arrive in 1692. The monks, guided by the episcope Ljubibratic, first build themselves cells close to the church. Later thanks to the generosity of the Venetians who ruled the city at the time, and who awarded the land to the monks, they rebuilt the whole monastery.
Church of Holy Salvation on Topla, is more than 300 years old and was built for the needs of the then ever-growing population. This church had a special role throughout the entire 18th century because it was the administrative center of the Topla Comunitada, a kind of early municipality that contained many of the settlements that are today a part of the Herceg Novi municipality. The Venetians, at the time rulers of the city, allowed this and allowed the inhabitants to practice their own Orthodox religion because of the effort they put in, in liberating the city from the Turks. The church is located on a very colorful spot on a plato to which you enter through a richly profiled baroque gate. It’s built from a fine stone from Korcula; it’s spacious and monumental in its scale. In the church’s treasury, several valuables are held, which were brought here mostly from Russia by Sava Vladislavic and many other members of the Comunitada.) As a part of the church, a cell was built in which a school was founded. Certainly, the church’s most famous student was Radivoje Petrovic the future bishop and ruler of Montenegro, and later more famously known as Petar II Petrovic Njegos. He started attending at the age of 12 and stayed there because he enjoyed the climate, lush vegetation, nature, and other beauties that Herceg Novi had in its possession, which were so different from his native Cetinje. Today the cell in which he attended class is restored and open for visitors. Although small in size, the history packed in there is something worth seeing.
On the main square of the Old Town, Herceg Stjepan Square—which is popularly referred to as Bellavista (beautiful view), is one of the gems of architecture from Boka, specific by architectural and artistic workmanship— the Church of St. Archangel Michael. On all four sides, the church was surrounded by 100-year-old palm trees, which gave the rocky square a distinguished beauty.
Church of st Leopold Mandic named after a catholic saint was built on the orders of Jeronim Korner, in 1688, immediately after the occupation of the city by the Venetians. It was dedicated to St. Mother of God (St. Mary), and later dedicated to St. Francis.
When you decide to go for a simple walk, you cannot and should not miss the town harbor, Skver.
Skver, is an informal city center of Herceg Novi. This is where it all happens. Aside from the city harbor and pier, there are still remnants of the former railroad and railroad station that used to be there. It’s the merging point where the city stairs and the Five Danica promenade meet and where the thankful inhabitants of Herceg Novi built a statue for their founder Tvrtko I Kotromanic. Skver hosts the traditional Big game fishing competition, that brings in more and more contestants and visitors every year. It is also the ideal starting point for excursions across the bay and your morning coffee ritual.
Walking down the main city road, the famous Njegoseva street, you will stumble upon the monument house of the great literary giant Ivo Andrić, Nobel prize winner, who lived and created in this city. The house was built by Ivo Andric himself in 1964, when he moved here from Belgrade with his wife, Milica. In time the house was visited by many noteworthy people from both the cultural and public life, writers, translators. Today that house is a Literary Club where literary and poetry nights are being held and in the summertime a book fair with accompanying content. Within the club, you can find a restaurant with a summer garden, a favorite gettogether location for the lovers of the written word. The house today is preserved in its original form, with characteristics of Bosnian architecture. The house contains a museum with a library of Andric’s books translated in many different world languages; then there are photos from various periods of the great author's life as well as a collection of paintings.
Herceg Novi is a coastal city, with many small islands, caves and peninsulas within a 30 minute boat ride.
Fort Mamula was built on a small island that bears the same name, in the entrance to the Bay of Kotor. It was built in the middle of the 19th century. The island, and the fort itself, is now deserted and today serves as a kind of “kingdom of seagulls,” and in the summertime, it is a popular field trip destination. Even though the main function of the fort was to protect the entrance to the Boka Bay during the WWI and WWII, it was used as a prison by the Austrians and later Italians.
Around 3,8 nautical miles from Herceg Novi, lays one of the most famous excursion locations on the Herceg Novi Riviera and one of the most beautiful beaches in Montenegro. It is protected from the winds by Cape Arza, and it’s 300m long and 10-15m wide. During the summer, it represents the most popular venue for tourists and can receive close to a thousand people. Cove Zanjice is practically designed for those who want to spend their holiday in the beautiful silent ambiance of one-hundred-year-old pine and olive trees. It is known for its great rocky beach and crystal clear sea.
On the northwest coast of the Lustica peninsula, opposite of Herceg Novi, 1,7 nautical miles from it, we can find the settlement of Rose. It has a shape of a small typical Mediterranean borough with houses packed and aligned in front of the pier, well protected from the wind. Rose was mostly built during the 17th and 18th century, at the time that now represents the golden era of Boka’s seafaring. The place is surrounded by lush vegetation of pines, olives, oaks, oleanders, laurels. North of the harbor is a beautiful small sandy beach in the shade of an olive grove, also known as Malo Rose.
At a distance of just a few kilometers from Igalo, we can find the peaceful coastal settlement Njivice. The guests of this small location have a beautiful view of Herceg Novi, mountain Orjen and the Boka Bay, all the way to Mount Lovcen. It is isolated from the city crowd and traffic but is easily accessible by boat, car, or bus in a matter of minutes either from Igalo or Herceg Novi.
Herceg Novi, or more specifically Igalo, is for many decades the center for rehabilitation therapy.
The Institute for Physical Medicine, rehabilitation, and rheumatology “Dr. Simo Milosevic” is considered to be one of the largest and most famous institutions for multidisciplinary spa treatment on the Balkans. Owing to the natural healing properties of its mud, Igalo developed into one of the largest peloid health resorts in Europe. Being a unique blend of a hotel and a health and rehabilitation center, with the help of non-invasive methods and by an experience-based application of natural factors of Igalo (healing sea mud, mineral water, mild Mediterranean climate), the Institute Igalo, approaches each guest with an individually tailored medical program.
For those who enjoy a good hike, Herceg Novi is located underneath a mountain and several picturesque hills. Over the last few year hiking routes have been mapped, so you can enjoy them even without the help of a guide. Along your daily hike, visit the Ilinica church and viewpoint and the etno village Zlijebi.
Aside from the church that is located by the very border that separates Montenegro and Croatia a unique monument to the French soldiers that died in that area in 1806 during the Napoleon conquests was built in 1919. The monument was constructed on request of the soldiers themselves so that everyone can see the land they came from. Aside from these two unique monuments, this place is one of the rare locations from where a beautiful view stretches with Boka Bay on one side and Konavle on the other.
Taking the sand serpentines that lead up to the village itself, and stopping along the way at the numerous viewpoints along the Bay of Kotor entrance, make this route a significant asset for development of active tourism, just as the village Zlijebi themselves with its rural whole, where a local indigenous flat stone after which the whole village is known, is used to build pretty much everything, from walls, roofs, henhouses, to entire houses and the local St. Nicola’s church. Every house is built on a type of cascade with a truly unique view of the Bay. Zvinje today are full of weekend homes. The owners know why—the spectacular view.
These are just cliff notes. A lot more is waiting for you.