Saturday, July 6, 2013

Budva, Montenegro

Budva is the most popular tourist spot in Montenegro.  It sits on the coast, has plenty of beaches, and is known for its nightlife.  The town itself is small, with around 22,000 people, but at over 3,500 years old, it is one of the oldest settlements on the Adriatic.

It is often called the "Montenegrin Kuwait" because for a town of 22,000 people there are around 500 millionaires.  The most millionaires per capita in all of Europe.  Most of these are Russians, Austrians and Italians who bought property during the real estate boom in the early 2000s.  The influx of money has transformed this once poor fishing village.

The main attraction is its Old Town.  It's said that Budva was discovered by a Greek sailor.  Having been under the Roman Empire and the Venetians, there is a distinct style to the town.  In 1979 there was a major earthquake and it took eight years to rebuild the Old Town.

Stari Grad (Old Town) sits on the peninsula and is surrounded by 15th century city gates and defensive walls.

The Catholic St. Ivan's Church was built in the 7th century.  The belfry was added in 1867.

The St. Mary of Punta Church dates back to 840 AD and is the oldest church in Budva.  The legend goes that Spanish sailors placed an icon of the Virgin Mary along with two burning candles sometime before the 9th century.  It was meant to test the Christian faith of the local villagers.  Apparently, the locals passed because there's been a church on the very spot the icon was left over 1,200 years ago.

The Holy Trinity Church was built in 1804.  This Orthodox church is in the middle of the citadel.

Sveti Stefan is a small island and hotel resort about 6 km (3.7 miles) southeast of Budva.  Once home to a small village, everything was acquired by the Yugoslav government during Tito's reign and it became an upscale resort for high-ranking communist party members.  The resort fell in to decline when Yugoslavia broke up.  Over the past few years a lot of money has been invested to posh it up.

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