Old Town Budva in Montenegro – Best Sights
One of the few cities in Montenegro, which perfectly preserved not just architectural monuments, but a whole complex of ancient sights. Budva’s Old Town has an incredible atmosphere of antiquity, and the concentration of tourists coming to see its sites is one of the highest in all of Montenegro.
Budva Old Town is an incredible open-air museum. These are the words of admiration voiced by local tourists. There is an enchanting atmosphere here that makes you want to feel like a hero of the time. Budva’s Old Town has an amazing concentration of ancient sights, unique in their design, preserving the history of the distant past.
About Old Town Budva
Judging by the archeological excavations, the first settlement here was formed as far back as the V century B.C., and till the XX century life was concentrated within the limits of the Old Town. And this despite the small area, which can be bypassed in just half an hour.
Hotels in Budva Old Town are few and far between and offer expensive accommodation. It is more convenient and profitable to settle in a new part of the city, not far from the complex, and go on excursions. Accommodation is available for any budget – from rooms and hostels to rooms in luxury five-star hotels of well-known European networks. However, for the comfort of high quality in the latter you have to pay a pretty penny, especially in July and August, when prices for housing grow by 2 times.
For those who like shopping on a European scale it is better to go to the nearest Bar or Podgorica. Stores in the old town of Budva are exclusively souvenir, but for many it’s a real treasure house of exclusive things. In them you can buy national prsut, local wines, decorative items, Montenegrin headdresses, semi-precious belts made by Budvan masters.
10 Best Sights of Budva Old Town
You might think you can’t get around them all in a day, but that’s just for a detailed tour. A big plus is that all attractions are located within the Old Town of Budva. If you do not have time to dwell on each in detail – you have planned a busy tour of the country, then it is quite possible to walk around them all in a day.
Here are 10 of the best sights of the Old Town of Budva, which are worth visiting in Montenegro. The fortress walls, the Citadel, historic cathedrals and temples, ancient gates and museums – the trip promises to be fascinating.
St. Mary’s Fortress or Citadel
The old stone fishes in Budva’s Old Town, which you may have already seen on the Montenegrin internet photos, are on the wall of the St. Mary’s Citadel-Fortress. The citadel was built in the XIV century and was temporarily the royal residence of the Principality of Zeta. Throughout its existence the fortress protected the city from foreign invaders. There you can also visit the Maritime Museum and Library, where you can see ancient exhibits such as tableware, weapons, models of ships, ancient maps and books.
The fortress walls of the Old City
The main defense and the most stunning structure of the Old Town of Budva, the full panorama of which can be seen on the map. Powerful 45-meter high fortress walls completely encircle the entire Old Town of Budva. There are 3 passages on the walls. There are loopholes, gun ports and watchtowers along them. Some of them were built in the IX century, and after a major earthquake the Venetians erected them again in the XVII century. Going to the observation deck by the fortress walls, you can enjoy an incredible panorama of the entire city.
St. John the Baptist Cathedral and Bell Tower
The Gothic-style Catholic cathedral was built in the 17th century on the site of an ancient 7th-century church. On its territory there is the highest bell tower in the city, and inside the temple there is the miraculous Budva icon of the Virgin Mary with the Child. According to legend, it was painted by St. Luke himself. There are other valuable relics in the Cathedral: icons of St. Peter and St. Paul, chapels, the altar of rich marble, the figure of John the Baptist in a mosaic of Murano glass. Regular services are held in the Cathedral.
Church of the Holy Trinity
The famous church was built in the nineteenth century in the style of Byzantine temples. While in Budva Old Town one does not need to ask passers-by where it is located, as the church can be found in the very center – on the church square, next to the Citadel. Just above the entrance to the shrine you can see the first mosaic, depicting the Holy Trinity: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Inside the church is richly decorated, with the centerpiece being the iconostasis made by Greek iconographers of the 19th century. At the entrance to the church is the tombstone of Stefan Ljubiš, a renowned politician and writer from Budva.
Church of St. Mary
The oldest Catholic church in Old Budva, built back in the 8th century, is one of the 8 shrines in Montenegro associated with the Virgin Mary. She acts as the patron saint of the city. The Church of St. Mary is located in the fortress wall itself, on the southwestern outskirts of the city. The unique architecture – irregular rectangular shape of the building, unusual in design windows, and the main entrance is on the side left side – is attractive. Services are not held in the church, the church is used as a gallery.
A small square in the center of the old town of Budva, in Montenegro, where you can make an impressive photo as a memory near a real artifact of antiquity – a Roman altar. After the strongest earthquake in Montenegro, the stone was found on the excavations. Its estimated age was 20 centuries! Despite the significant damage from time, the inscription “Vincia Pavlina” can still be clearly distinguished on the surface of the stone. Scientists have suggested that it was a wine sacrifice to make a sacrifice to the gods of the time.
A unique gate opening from the city directly to the sea coast. The arch and the doorway are made of stone and are part of an ancient fortress wall. The doors are made of massive wooden planks held together by iron rails. Many historians believe that the Eastern Gate of Budva used to be used by fishermen to quickly get to their boats and get to work. You don’t have to ask passers-by in Budva Old Town where the landmark is located, because you can find it next to the Prince English pub, on the outdoor terrace. The pub can also be called a landmark, because only here and in three other places in Montenegro you can order and taste delicious Guinness.
Among the museums of Budva, perhaps the most visited is the Archaeological Museum. The museum with historical exhibits opened its doors in 2003 for all those interested in Montenegrin history. Its walls hold archeological and ethnographic collections. They are located on four floors: on the first – lapidarium with ancient stone slabs, on the second and third – ancient utensils and household items, personal items of the Romans, Greeks and Byzantines, on the fourth – ethnographic collection, telling about the life of Montenegrins. It is interesting that most of the exhibits were found and brought to the museum excavations after the devastating earthquake in 1979.
Church of St. Sava
One of the oldest churches and one of the smallest in Montenegro. It was built in the XI century and is dedicated to St. Sava, the founder of the Orthodox Church in Serbia. According to legend, the saint made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem from this very church. Inside you can see well preserved frescoes of the XII century. For about 8 centuries Orthodox services were held there. After the conquest by the Venetians, Catholic masses were added to the Orthodox services. Together with the Church of St. Mary, the Church of St. Sava is the only preserved structure built on the ruins of the ancient monastery.
Next to the archaeological museum in the summer there is an antiques market, where local collectors and not only sell rare jewelry, coins, household items.
The sights in Budva’s Old Town are incredible. Even the fact that it is one of the oldest settlements on the Adriatic coast, encourages thousands of tourists from all over the world to come here every year. Just a few towns in Montenegro, including the Old Town of Budva, offer the chance to get into the incredible atmosphere of antiquity, which is interesting and very curious for visitors.
If you are going to Montenegro for the first time, tour operator “Open Balkans” advises to be sure to visit this incredible Old Town of Budva and walk through all its ten sights. We assure you that after this trip you will want to explore all corners of the country. Enjoy traveling around Montenegro, find your favorite place and head to it.
Bell at the walls of the Old Town
This site can’t be called a historical landmark, but it’s often the starting point for a tour of the old streets of the city. Bell, despite its impressive size, can be easily lifted by several people. The thing is that it is not made of real metal, but of ordinary painted foam plastic.
This is a legacy of the American film company “Columbia Pictures”, which filmed in the 60’s, near Budva, the movie “Viking Ships”. After filming, the prop bell was erected on a pedestal. Since then, most tourists can not miss the opportunity not to be photographed against its background.
Ruins of a Christian basilica
According to sources, the Christian basilica was erected as early as the Roman period, in the V century. The existence of such a large temple at that time demonstrates that the Old Town of Budva was the center of religious and cultural life in Montenegro. Only its foundations have survived to this day and can be seen on the city’s Church Square.
The ancient Roman necropolis of V century BC construction would probably never have been discovered if not for the construction of Avala Hotel. While excavating the excavation for the future hotel builders stumbled upon ancient stones. Archaeologists confirmed that these were the ruins of an ancient Roman necropolis.
The construction of the hotel could not be stopped and the foundations of the necropolis are still under the hotel. The well-preserved tomb wall and tombstone had to be moved to an area near the square. Valuable artifacts in the form of gold and silver jewelry, dishes and vases were moved to the city museum.
Statue of the Ballerina of Budva
On the map of the Old Town of Budva, you probably won’t find the famous symbol of the city. But if you go out to the coastal cliffs, you can see the graceful monument, which the city authorities erected in honor of love and fidelity. Legend tells of a certain ballerina, who in the past, on the site of the sculpture installed, was waiting for her lover from a long voyage. Nowadays, all tourists in Montenegro necessarily stop near the statue of “Ballerina from Budva”, in the Old Town, to make a commemorative photo.
The Monastery of Pidmaine or Podostrog is located at the foot of the mountain Ostrog, near the village of Maine, which gave its two names. This orthodox monastery, situated 2.5 km from the Old Town of Budva, is one of the most important sights in the long history of Montenegro. It is within its walls Petar II Petrovic Njegosha wrote his outstanding work, which is considered a national artifact of Montenegrin literature.
The monastery, according to some sources, was founded during the reign of the Nemanjic family, between the XIV and XVI centuries. At one time it served as the summer residence of the Metropolitans of Montenegro. And under Vladyka Daniil a full complex of the monastery was formed – a small stone church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, stone bridge, monastery house and mills. Podmaine monastery is not hard to find. You should go to the end of the street of the Old Town of Budva Mains Way and then climb to the top of the hill where the monastery is located.
Old Town Budva
Old Town Budva is often referred to as an open-air museum, as this is where most of the sights are concentrated. According to archaeological excavations, the first settlement arose in the 5th century BC. And up until the 20th century, residents lived all the time within such a small town, which can be walked around in 30-40 minutes. But let’s not be in a hurry. The atmosphere of the city captivates from the first minutes and here we want to walk endlessly and admire every house. So we have compiled our top 10 list of the most interesting sights and places to see in the Old City:
The Citadel or St. Mary’s Fortress
The most striking attraction in the old town of Budva is the fortified Citadel complex. The citadel was first mentioned in 1425. For a time it served as a temporary residence of the rulers of the Principality of Zeta. In the 19th century it was rebuilt and expanded for a larger military garrison. In spite of the construction work, this complex has preserved the layers from the 14th century. Throughout history, the fortress served as a powerful fortification to the city walls. Inside the bastion were located the arsenal and food supplies, which allowed it to withstand a siege for a long time. The fortress is open to visitors all year round. It is interesting to walk around and enjoy the views of the city from the observation decks. Tourists often look for the stone with fish on the walls of the fortress – a symbol of eternal love, which is associated with the legend of two lovers. Montenegrin Romeo and Juliet (Elena and Marko) threw themselves into the sea and stopped in the fish. Eyewitnesses to what happened said “Let the two be as one” (Ko jedno nek budu dva). Thus, according to the legend, the name Budva appeared. Also on the territory is the Maritime Museum and Library . The exposition is small, but interesting. Here are a few models of ships, ancient utensils and coins. In the library there are copies of ancient maps and books. Entrance fee: 3,50 euros per person. On the territory of the Citadel there is a restaurant with the same name – Citadela. If you go to the restaurant, you do not need to pay to enter.
The city walls of Budva Old Town
Budva Old Town is surrounded by strong fortress walls of approximately 450m in length. There are loopholes, watchtowers and gun ports. This is the most impressive structure in the Old Town. The panorama of the city that opens from this place is definitely fascinating! There are three entrances to the walls, marked on our map. According to historical data the first fortifications were built in the 9th century, but after the destructive earthquake the city walls were rebuilt by the Venetians in the 17th century. The entrance is free, but sometimes at the entrance #1 tourist organization charges 1.50-2 euros per person (probably not entirely legal, since the walls do not have the status of a museum). Therefore we suggest you use the entrance number 3 near the Mozart restaurant.
It will appeal to history lovers. There are small, but interesting ethnographic and archaeological collections. The pride of the museum is a collection of gold jewelry from the Hellenic period. Also impressive are the remains of Greek and Roman ceramics, mosaics and ancient glassware. The museum exists since 2003. Curiously enough, most of the exhibits have been brought to the museum through excavations after the 1979 earthquake (around 4,000 new finds). Entrance fee: 2.00 euros per person.
Cathedral of St. John the Baptist and the bell tower
A functioning Catholic church with the highest bell tower in the old town of Budva. Earlier on this site there was an old church, dating back to the 7th century. In the 17th century the ruined church was rebuilt into a cathedral with Gothic elements. The monumental tower of the temple, a characteristic symbol of the city’s architecture, was completed in 1867. The famous miraculous icon of Our Lady of Budva with the Child is kept here. Some sources claim that it was painted by St. Luke. There are also other important relics in the cathedral – the Byzantine icons of St. Paul and St. Peter, a Murano glass mosaic with the figure of John the Baptist, the rich marble altar chapel, icons by Greek masters and the image of St. Luke by Anastasia Bocharic. Not far from the cathedral is the bishop’s palace, completed in the early 20th century. More information about the temple and its history can be found on Wikipedia. Admission is free.
Church of St. Mary
The oldest Catholic church in Budva Old Town. According to the inscription on its wall, the building was built in 840. It was erected by the Benedictine monks who brought the miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary there. It is impossible not to notice the unusual architecture of the church. Throughout history it was constantly being rebuilt. It has the form of an irregular rectangle with unusual shapes of windows and the main entrance is located on the side. Today, the church functions as a gallery. During city celebrations its premises are used as a concert hall – the good acoustics are ideal for chamber music and singing. Opposite the church is the Theater Square, where the Grand Theater Festival is held every summer. Admission is free.
Church of the Holy Trinity
It is an Orthodox church built at the beginning of the 19th century in the Byzantine style, similar to the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Podostrog Monastery. Inside very rich decoration. After the fall of the Venetian Republic in 1797, Austria gave permission for the construction of the church of the Holy Trinity, on the request of the Orthodox population of Budva, supported by the Bishop of Montenegro, and it was completed in 1804. The iconostasis of the church is the work of Greek icon painters of the 19th century and is of great artistic value. In front of the church is the tombstone of the famous writer and politician Steaan Mitrov Ljubiš, born in Budva. Entrance is free.
Near the Archaeological Museum in the summertime there is an antiques market. Sellers of rare coins and currencies, jewelry, decorations and household items gather here. The market is open in the tourist season. Admission is free.
Gallery of modern art – Magic Yard
The Gallery of Contemporary Art in Budva started its activity in 1972 with the exhibition of the works of the leading national and international expressionist artists. Today it has the best works of the Montenegrin and Serbian painters, sculptors and jewelers. There is a cafe bar with outdoor terrace in the gallery. It is a very atmospheric place. Quite often there are concerts, tea-parties and master classes. You can sate positive emotions, creative atmosphere and communication with interesting people. Finding this place is not easy, so use our map.
A unique corner in which the doors open directly into the sea. So far, historians do not know why they were needed in the Middle Ages. It is assumed that it was used by fishermen. To find this place you have to go to the English pub Prince, the only place in Budva (and probably in Montenegro as well) where they serve Guinness. On the outdoor terrace of this pub there is a door to the sea with a delightful view of the sea and coast.
Hidden from tourists a small square in the center of the Old Town is a kind of reminder that Budva (Butua) was a small Roman town a long time ago. In the middle of the square there is an interesting shaped stone. It was discovered during excavations after the 1979 earthquake. The inscription Vinicia Pavlina can be seen on the stone and archaeologists have concluded that it is a call for a sacrificial offering of wine to please the gods. Scientists date this Roman altar to the 1st or 2nd century AD.
Budva is the city of the six senses – it fills you, charges you and never lets you go. Don’t be afraid to open yourself up to this city; brave the narrow openings between the houses. Believe me, whichever way you go, you’re heading in the right direction.
The old town of Budva is unique in the way it is both a historical monument and a fortress, and a place where people continue to live. Start your acquaintance with the city best from the viewpoints of the Citadel and the City Walls. Walking around the old city is a pleasure. Here so want to get lost in the streets, enjoying the medieval architecture: stone houses, carved shutters and balconies with flowers. Despite the fact that the city is small, very often living here for many years you find something new.