The Old Town of Budva

Budva (Cyrillic: Будва), a 2500-year-old seaside town in Montenegro, is one of the oldest settlements on the Adriatic coast — well-known for its sandy beaches, diverse nightlife, and well-preserved medieval walled city, known as Old Town. It also lies at the tourist center of the so-called “Budva Riviera”. Legend has it that the city (Greek: Βουθόη) was founded by Cadmus, who also founded the Greek city of Thebes. However, after being exiled from Thebes, he and his wife, the goddess Harmonia, found shelter in this place.

Here is some of the long tortured history of this region:

  • 4th century BC: With the establishment of a trading post (or emporium) in Budva, Greek colonization of the Adriatic began
  • 2nd century BC: Budva became part of the Roman Empire, whose later east/west division happened to run through this area, subsequently impacting the town’s history and culture
  • 6th century AD: Budva became part of the Byzantine Empire
  • 7th and 8th centuries AD: Slavs and Avars began arriving in Budva, mixing with the native Roman population
  • 9th century AD: Budva was sacked and devastated by the Muslim Saracens in 841
  • 11th century AD: Budva was ruled by a succession of kings from the medieval Serb state of Duklja, as well as aristocrats from Serbia and the late medieval Principality of Zeta
  • 1200 – 1828: Budva functioned as the see (seat of government) of a Roman Catholic Diocese
  • 1420 – 1797: Budva fell under Venetian rule (and was known as Budua) and was fortified by powerful Venetian walls against Ottoman conquests
  • 1797: Budva came under the rule of the Habsburg Monarchy after the fall of Republic of Venice
  • 1806: During the Napoleonic Wars, control of Budva was taken over by Montenegrin forces allied with Russia
  • 1807 – 1813: Budva was under French control, after being relinquished by Montenegro
  • 1813 – 1918: Budva was controlled by the Austrian Empire, after being ceded by France
  • 1918: Budva was abandoned by Austrian forces and came under the Kingdom of Yugoslavia
  • 1941: Budva was annexed by the Kingdom of Italy at the start of WWII
  • 1944: Budva was liberated from Axis rule and incorporated in the Socialist Republic of Montenegro (part of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia)
  • 2006: Budva became the primary tourist destination of Montenegro, after it became an independent country

The Old Town of Budva, situated on a rocky peninsula, is encircled with defensive stone walls and complete with other fortifications typical of the medieval walled cities of the Adriatic, including towers, embrasures, fortified city gates, and a citadel (which also contains the ruins of the Santa Maria de Castello Church). The entire city within the walls is pedestrian-only with a somewhat irregular, though roughly orthogonal layout. Numerous piazzas connect with narrow streets and a large public square, located to north of the citadel, contains all of the churches of the Old Town: St. Ivan’s (17th century), Santa Maria in Punta (840), and The Holy Trinity (1804).

  • Visited: Nov 2018

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