History and Legends
The old town of Budva is a specific Mediterranean combination of landscape, history and culture in the south part of the Adriatic coast. Inside and in the near vicinity of the walls Budva hides a unique history over two and a half millenniums long positioning it among the oldest urban centers of the area.
According to its urban structure Budva was “polismaton” which had all the features of Greek urbanism with main long street which has led to the main town square but not through the center of the town but rather sideways just like nowadays. However, its present look with the walls, as an important fortification system, in its major part is linked with the Middle Ages, though later it was devastated and reconstructed especially after the earthquake in 1667. On the Montenegrin coast, besides Kotor, only Budva has the wall which circles the entire core of the town with narrow streets and small squares.
People had started settling in the area of Budva very early because of its convenient geographic position and mild climate. The oldest, now known traces of material culture from the territory of Budva (Paštrovići, Maini, and Grbalj) date back in prehistory, in Bronze Age and Iron Age doba when Illyrian tribes settled in this area. There are hill-forts in which Illyrian worriers lived in their communities and stone tumuli in which they were buried.
In line with antique historical sources, written heritage and rich archeological material, Budva is one of the oldest urban centers at the Adriatic, over 2,500 years old. A lot of monumental heritages from Antique and Middle Ages are proofs of continuing and active life of this antique town. Illyrians, i.e. this Illyrian tribe Enhelian, are the oldest autochthon people of Budva.
In the 5th century B.C. Greek tragedian Sophocles, among first writers mentions Budva “Illyrian town”. In the 4th century B.C. it is colonized by the Greek, when it became a rich trade center (emporion), while in the middle of the 2nd century B.C. or more precisely in 168 , it was conquered by the Roman Empire. In 1st century of new era, Roman writer Pliny the elder mentioned it as a „fortified town of roman citizens“. Budva had in that period all the features of a true Roman town with monumental buildings, paved roads and massive walls. It will remain within Roman empire until its fall in 395.
After destructive earthquake which covered the area of Budva too in 518, Byzantine emperors start to rule Budva (535), and according to Constantine Porfirogenit, Byzantine emperor from the 10th century, and in 9th century, more precisely after 841 Slavs started to settle, although there are data of their settlement in the 7th century. Majority Roman population slowly mixed with the Slavs imposing Christianity on the newcomers. In fatal year 841, Budva was destroyed by Arabians (Saraceni) having attacked it from the sea. There are data that it was attacked by Avaris even back in the 6th and 7th century, looted and even settled there, so the bay of Budva was Avarorum sinus. Byzantine emperor Vasilije I ( 867-886 ) banished Arabians from the east coast of the south Adriatic. The proof of relatively fast recovery of Budva and its ascent in the 10th and 11th centuries is a data that between 1089 and middle 12th century it became diocese with the cathedral church of St. Ivan the Baptizer, and as such it was the subject of dispute between Bar and Dubrovnik arch-diocese.
Between 1184 and 1186 the town fell under Nemanjićs dynasty and stayed a part of it till the mid 14th century when it was taken back by Balšićs dynasty. During the reign of the dynasty Nemanjić, i.e. the reign of Emperor Dušan (the first half of the 14th century), "the Articles of Association for Budva" was written, as the first piece of legislation which gave Budva certain autonomy. In the second half of the 14th and early 15th century it was ruled for short time by, first Balšićs, than Radič Crnojević, then Sandalj Hranić and, finally, Đurđe Stracimirović. After death of Đurđ Stracimirović, Budva was taken by the Venetians who in 1403 ceded it to Balša the third, under whose rule it was up to 1419 when the Venetians took it again over. For a short time it was under the despot Đurađ Branković, and in 1442 it went under Venice under which it stayed until the fall of the Republic in 1797. In the period of Venetian rule a small shipyard was built in Budva for the construction of small ships for coastal purposes.
The most typical antique and Medieval names for Budva are: Buthoe, Budua, Butua, Butoba, Budova and Civitas Antiqua, i.e old town.
From 1797 till 1806 Budva was under the occupation of Austria, and then, from 1806 to 1807, it was under the rule of Russian Montenegrin government, and between 1807 and 1813. it was under French occupation and then, again under Austrian, under which it stayed until 1918, when it was liberated by Serbian and Montenegrin Army. The Second World War took many victims from this area fighting against Fascists, and finally on 22nd November 1944 has been liberated on permanent basis.
From cultural historical monuments related to Budva and old town we should mention: pylons, the gate of Old town gate from the 6th century B.C. the remains of antique necropolis with rich archeological findings, Roman chapels, Roman and early Christianity mosaics, Roman thermas, walls from Middle Ages with Citadel.
Particular cultural and historical value of Budva are numerous sacral monuments. These are the remains of architecture of early Christianity basilica from the end of the 5th century of new era, cathedral church of St. Ivan which relates its origin with the 7th century, the church Santa Maria in punta from 840 where rich art and music program is organized in summer months, the church of St, Sava from the 12th century, the remains o the church Santa Maria del Castello at the Citadel (from 12th to 14th century) and the church of St. Tirnity from 1804 in front of which there is a grave of our famous writer from Budva, Stefan Mitrov Ljubisa (1824-1878). Particular monument, sacred monument is the protector of the town, the icon of the mother of God with Christ or so called "Lady of Budva" from the end of the 14th century.