If you are visiting Montenegro, you should make sure to visit Stari Bar, its only one hour away from Podgorica, which is the main international Montenegrin Airport. Stari Bar is not as charming as Kotor, but it’s definitely worth visiting during your holidays in the Balkans.
Stari Bar, Montenegro
Stari Bar or Old Bar is a town (not a bar named Stari!) in southeast Montenegro a few kilometres above the new port of Bar. It sits on top of Londsa hill, a foothill of Mount Rumija.
Bar Old Town looks beautiful as you approach and once inside it is even more impressive, revealing its rich history. Originally occupied in the Sixth Century by the Romans, Bar was conquered in turn by the Venetians, the Hungarians, the Serbs, and the Ottomans Empire.
The History of Old Bar
Bar was an important Ottoman settlement in Montenegro from 1571. By the 1870’s the Montenegrin began to challenge their power. The weak point of the hilltop town was that its water supply was fed by an aqueduct from the nearby mountainside and in 1878, while the Ottomans were still clinging on to the possession of the town, the Montenegrins set off a 225 kg explosive to destroy Bar Aqueduct, and the water supply to the town was cut off. The Ottomans surrendered the town to the Montenegrins, and later during the Congress of Berlin where the six most powerful countries at the time were debating the future of Balkans, Bar was awarded to the Principality of Montenegro.
The aqueduct was rebuilt and the town re-inhabited until 1979 when an earthquake destroyed it – again cutting off the water supply. The people were forced to vacate, and relocated to the coast, leading to the construction of a new town around the old port to become the current city of Bar.
Today, the breathtaking ruins of Stari Bari tell the story of this old town’s past.
Visiting the Fortress of Stari Bari
Stari Bari itself is quite extensive, but not too big to explore on foot. From the car park below the old city, you walk via a steep pedestrian road lined with souvenir shops, restaurants, and cafe bars where you can try traditional Montenegrin food and drinks, including pomegranate beer. During the season this street is buzzing with life, but during winter most of the restaurants were closed.
The Gate to Stari Bar is open every day in the summer: from 08:00 am to 20:00 pm and in the wintertime from 09:00 am to 17:00 pm. Entry fee is €2 adults, €1 children 1 Euro, though when we were there offseason there was no one at the open gate and entry was free.
Buildings in Stari Bar
- Customs house, Gunpowder house,
- Open Theatre
- Citadel and Aqueduct
- Internal Gateway
- Church of St. John,
- Church of St. Venus,
- Clock Tower,
- Lapidarium (displaying a collection of carved stones from destroyed buildings)
- St. Ilarion Church
- Episcopal Palace
We loved wandering the old streets, some paved in stone others just grassy tracks, all surrounded both by ruins and standing buildings. The citadel stands right on a precipitous cliff edge and a climb to the wall tops gives magnificent views of the restored aqueduct and down into the valley far below.
When to visit Stari Bar?
We visited in the late afternoon and the sunset light made the ruins looks even more magical and picturesque. Also at this time of day, there were fewer people, allowing more possibilities for great photos.
Maslina in Montenigran means Olive so Stara Maslina means Old Olive tree.
A short distance from Stari Bar is the oldest olive tree in Europe called Stara Maslina, with a circumference of 10 meters. Stara Maslina is as well consider as the oldest tree in Europe. The tree is claimed to be 2243 years old. Just in case if you don’t believe that the tree is so old, you can see the certificate of authenticity. Since 1957 the old Maslina is under the state protection.
Entry fee to see the tree is 1 euro. We decided to skip this and just saw it through the fence. In truth all the olive trees in Montenegro are particularly beautiful, they have more twisted and pitted trunks than olives elsewhere and to single out one lightning-damaged tree seemed a little unnecessary to us.
How to get to Stari Bari
The old town is located just 5 kilometres from the new town, and it took us about a40-50 minutes to walk up to the ruined town. Unfortunately, much of the road doesn’t have a pavement, so be careful when you walk on the road.
If you go by car, there is a big car park. Price in winter 0,60€ per hour and in winter 0,90€
You can also get to Stari Bar by bus. There is a local bus every 30 minutes from Bar to Old Bar at the cost of 0.50 euros.
Stari Bar Montenegro – Conclusion
Stari Bar and its Fortress are one of the most charming places we saw while travelling in Montenegro. It’s not as famous as Kotor, but a visit here was definitely worth a half-day of our time.
Stari Bar – pin it for later