Old Town of Bar
Permanent Delegation of Montenegro to UNESCO
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The Old Town of Bar is the largest and the most important medieval archaeological site in the Balkans. It covers the area of 4.5 hectares, where the remains of around 600 public and private edifices are the proof of the existence of various construction phases present in different epochs of the Mediterranean history.
The visual identity of the Old Town of Bar is formed by the ramparts, bastions, towers, a citadel, numerous squares and churches. On the western and northern side, in the immediate surroundings of the ramparts of the Old Town of Bar there is an incompatible ambient whole consisting of the settlement and the suburban area of the Old Bar, while on the southern and eastern side there is a preserved natural setting of the slopes of Mount Rumija.
It is in the historical sources from the 10th century that the Old Town of Bar is mentioned for the first time, however it is assumed that it had existed even in the 6th century in the form of the rehabilitated Roman 'castrum'. It was established in a naturally protected place and surrounded by strong walls with towers and bastions. The residential architecture of the town is characterized by Late Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and oriental elements.
The Old Town of Bar has been deserted since the end of the 19th century. After the 1979 earthquake, technical specifications and project design documents were made, along with the research programmes and the plans for the protection and presentation of the Town core. The most significant structures of the upper part of the town were being explored, conserved and presented during the first and the second round of the works. Yet another drafted and fully implemented project included infrastructural works on the route leading from the main gate to St. George's Cathedral. This clearly shows the unambiguous interest in rehabilitation of certain structures and in reestablishing corresponding functions of the same, all in line with the programmes relative to their purpose. The electrical supply network enabled the installation of public lighting, the illumination of certain monuments and communications. Thanks to the regular investments and technical maintenance related to the cleaning of vegetation, the upper part of the town is accessible to public.
The lower, southern part of the town with the suburban rampart has not been treated and it is rather dilapidated. Ample vegetation endangers the remains of the architecture and makes them invisible.
In the area of the Old Town of Bar there is rich cultural-historic heritage of outstanding significance. The most important single structures in the Old Town of Bar are: Main Gate from the 14th to 16th century, Customs House from the 15th century, Summer Stage, Saint Nicola's Church from the 13th century, Gun Powder storage from the 18th century, Tatarovica Citadel from the 10th to 19th century with the military chapel, Aqueduct at Tatarovica, the town's oldest section, dates back to the 18th century, Saint John's Church from 1927, with the 15th century palace, Saint Veneranda Church from the 14th century, Saint George's Cathedral from the 11th to 15th century, Saint Catherine's Church from the 14th century, Clock Tower from the year 1752, with the southern gate at its foot, medieval multi-storey house with a coat of arms, Turkish Bath from the 18th century, reconstructed and functional, Prince and Bishop's Palace from the 15th to 16th century, Tower in the western corner of the ramparts, Ramparts from the 11th to 19th century.
Justification of Outstanding Universal Value
The intensive and continuous life of the town from the 10th up to the end of the 19th century, has left diverse and rich architectural heritage, characterized by the meeting of European architectural styles - Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque with the elements of oriental and traditional local architecture, which, together with the specific location of the Old Bar and its suburban area, constitutes an exceptional archaeological testimony to the historical antiquity of the town and its architectural values, as well as a specific example of relocating the life from inside the town walls to the seashore.
Due to its position and many centuries long history, the Old Town of Bar represents a composition of all Mediterranean cultures: Illyrian, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Slavic, Venetian and Ottoman.
Statements of authenticity and/or integrity
The integrity and the authenticity of the Old Bar have been preserved to the extent that its historical significance is understood, as well as the value of its material heritage, cultural and historical context of thousand years' long life of the town and the moment of destruction of its material structures. Mysterious is the fact that life has never gone back to this town, but got to the coast through the suburban area, leaving behind what is best and most precious. Within the past 130 years, the Old Bar has been the treasury of architectural and archaeological heritage, with the researchers of various profiles as its sole 'inhabitants'.
Comparison with other similar properties
The Old Town of Bar, having the structure of a fortified medieval town with the layers dating back to various periods, is similar to other fortified towns on the Adriatic coast and broader area of the Mediterranean. However, it is its position at the foot of the mountain massif, situated at the distance of around 5 km from the marine bay that makes The Old Town of Bar specific and distinct from other coastal towns in the area of the Eastern Adriatic.
In addition, the Old Town of Bar differs from other similar towns by its specific combination of various cultures that affected its development by 'layering its tissue'. Another fact that makes it distinctive is that this large fortified town has been uninhabited ever since the end of the 19th century, which simultaneously has caused it to become one of the largest walled archaeological sites and a great exploration resource with enormous scientific potential.