The town of Stari Bar (Old Bar) sits high up on Londša hill, at the foot of Mount Rumija. It has a tumultuous history of ownership, explosions, and earthquakes, which all but destroyed the town. The new town of Bar was constructed a few kilometers away on the coast and most of the inhabitants of Old Bar moved there, but slowly life is creeping back into the Old town.
The History of Stari Bar
During the Montenegrin–Ottoman War (1876–78), the old town of Bar was bombarded with heavy artillery, destroying most of the town. The Montenegrin’s then detonated an explosive in the Bar Aqueduct which cut off the town’s water supply, causing the Ottoman’s to finally surrender.
In 1979, Montenegro experienced a huge earthquake, which once again destroyed the aqueduct, forcing the locals to move to the new seaside town of Bar.
The Town of Stari Bar Today
In recent years, restoration work has begun on the old town, although, with more than 240 buildings still in ruins, the city will never be inhabited again. Instead, it will be preserved as an open-air museum for people like us to wander its cobbled lanes, imagining how life played out in these streets hundreds of years ago.
What makes Stari Bar so important are all the different architectural styles found within the city, including Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance. During the Ottoman reign, Eastern features were added to the existing medieval architecture to make the city a real melting pot of cultural architecture.
We spent 2 hours exploring the Old Town, wandering the old streets, climbing over walls, through buildings and lighting a candle in the church. Tai tried to lift a cannonball in the museum too much amusement, as he couldn’t get it off the ground. Mom succeeded though! Certain buildings have been fully restored and the fortress walls are still as imposing as ever. There are several viewpoints from which you have stunning views right over the valley and out to sea or back towards the majestic Mount Rumija.
Jumping on the tourist bandwagon, locals have started moving back into the area and have opened shops, restaurants and cafes outside the old city walls. The narrow cobbled streets are lined with souvenirs and funky eateries. We stopped for a delicious snack of priganice, which are unsweetened doughnuts with locally made feta cheese. Really delicious!
Getting to Stari Bar
Stari Bar is a mere 5km from Bar, so it only takes an hour to hike up to the Old Bar.
Every 30 minutes there is a local bus from the Bar center passing by the bus and train stations to Stari bar at a cost of € 0,50.
Stara Maslina, The Oldest Tree in Europe
Only a few minutes drive from Stari Bar is Stara Maslina, the oldest olive tree in Europe with a circumference of 10m. We were shown a certificate of authenticity stating that it was 2243 years old! That’s pretty impressive!
Legend has it that feuding families would come to the Old Olive Tree, where they would then make peace.
The entrance fee was 1 Euro, which seemed a bit much just to look at a tree, but the curator of the little park was delightful and made it worth every penny. She explained the history of the tree, told us a few local anecdotes and gave us some interesting tips on our onward travel. There were also lots of tortoises creeping around which kept Tai entertained.
Photos of the Day
Here are a few more photos of Stari Bar, so you can get a better idea of what the old town and the marketplace outside look like.
The drive up to Stari Bar is narrow and windy and I was concerned about where to park Miles, our campervan, but there are two big carparks right at the entrance.