Restoration of buildings
An earthquake in 1979 devastated the remains of the Old Town of Bar. All buildings were severely damaged and most of them was completely destroyed. During the 80`s of the previous century, an extensive challenging project of rehabilitation and restoration of the old town started, not to be completed still. The fortifications and objects for which, based on authentic documentation, it was possible to create a reconstruction projects, were partially or completely restored, such as Customs house, Gunpowder house, Citadel and Aqueduct, Internal Gateway, Church of St. John, Palace, Church of St. Venus, Clock Tower, Hamam, St. Ilarion Church and Episcopal Palace. The reconstruction was led by, at that time, the curator, archaeologist Omer Peročević in cooperation with the relevant institutions. The work on long-term reconstruction is continued by the curator mr Mladen Zagarčanin by completing partially restored buildings and restoration of the new ones. The capital project of the reconstruction of the church of St. Catherine has been recently completed, while the projects for completion of partially restored buildings such as Episcopal palace are still ongoing.
Church of St. Catherine
In the Old Town of Bar, at the walkway leading from the plateau „Londža“ towards the Clock Tower is a church/chapel of St. Catherine from XIV Century, which was built upon a passage above the street.
Today the Church is surrounded by solid rocky ramparts, as the city itself. The research has shown that it used to be located on the very edge of the fortress surrounded by wooden beams – palisades. This part of the wall, which can be seen today, was built at the end of the XIII and the beginning of the XIV century. At that time, one enclosure was made, fortified by a tower, which served as part of the special features of the Archbishopric of Bar. Below this tower was a guarded passage. At the end of XIV Century, the walls were doubled, and tower was transformed into the Church of St. Catherine, adding this entire area, from Cathedral of Saint George towards the lower part of the town, in the function of Archbishopric of Bar. The builders of St. Catherine Church managed to take advantage of the existing walls of the tower to build a new, beautifully slender, gothic structure with elements of eclecticism, such as a Romanesque portal, which was practiced everywhere in the Old Town of Bar.
Transforming the church into residential building, the Ottomans closed the apse, which later fell as it was only externally exposed to the console plates. Near the Church of St. Catherine, within the building 6, today remains the only preserved chimney in the city from the Ottoman times. Judging by the paintings from the end of the XIX century, there were quite a number of chimneys in the city at that time.
Clock tower represents a high tower, whose lower part, made of roughly quarried squares of limestone, leans on the wall of the medieval gate. Perhaps the building itself originates from the late Middle Ages. The upper part is rebuilt in the Ottoman era with better quarried squares of gray limestone. Clock Tower was founded by Jahija-aga Ibrahim Osman, who restored the tower in 1752. The tower was entirely preserved until 1878. In the battle for liberation of The Old Town of Bar, it was partially demolished, as can be seen in Paja Jovanovic painting from 1882 and photographs from 1908. It was restored in 1922 and in the 80s, according to the information and photographs from the late XIX century. Today it is a dominant building in the Old Town, a symbol of Ottoman architecture.
This was one of the few better preserved old palaces in Bar, although Ottomans altered its structure to some extent, thus it could be easily restored. It was completely renovated in 1986. Its base is almost square. It has high ground floor and three upper floors. Enter to the building is in form of two large portals, both set up on the west facade. The southern portal leads to the high ground floor, ie the tavern; The second, northern portal leads towards the masonry staircase, which leads to the first floor. The vestibule in front of the staircase was separated by one wall from the rest of the ground floor of the building. There were doors in this wall with a frame facing the staircase so that they could be closed from the workshop-store rather than from the staircase side. The first floor, which eastern side is at the height of the terrain, was probably divided with light partition walls in several rooms, but no traces of this division are visible today. A large number of windows show that these rooms had to be relatively well lit. Considering the height, number and size of windows, on the second floor there seemed to be representative rooms. The floor is illuminated by two large windows in the western facade, one in the north and the south, and with two windows in the east. Third floor is very poorly preserved. There was a window on the northern side, it seems that there were two on the western, and there is a trail of a walled hole in the south, although there could have been more on this side. The east wall of this floor is completely demolished.
This is certainly one of the most important buildings in The Old Town of Bar. Its set in the west corner of later northwest suburb, across the city walls facing towards the sea. It is clearly divided into two distinctly different parts, the southwestern, somewhat more properly resolved and northeastern, whose structure is far more irregular. In its complexity and division into smaller sections, the building could have a residential character. On the other hand, its facade, which resembles the facade of the church, the existence of a medallion for consecration and remains of frescoes, suggests that it could have a certain religious character. Finally, on one of the walls, in secondary use, there is a plate with an inscription from 1400, which can help bring a more specific conclusion. This inscription, in transcription, would say: . . . CURIA D(OMIN)I R(ECTOR)IS H (UIUS) EC(C)L(E)SIE DE AN (TIVARO ANN)0 D(OMI)NI MCCCC … + If this inscription originally belonged to this complex of objects, which is quite likely, than they would definitely represent the curia of the rector (archbishop) of the Bar church, that is, the Episcopal palace. In the Ottoman era through numerous rebuilding and add ups, the building was formed in the way we can see it today. Therefore locals are today calling it Omerbašića house, after the last of the family in whose possession it was. It will probably be a large building that Rovinsky saw on the right of the entrance to the city, in which he says that certain Beg from Skadar resided with his family.
Prince`s Palace is a great, representative palace next to Episcopal palace, composed of several different, interconnected parts. It is remarkably sophisticated, with a wide view towards the sea, being itself visible from far away. The larger, northwestern part, has a low tavern, ground floor and two upper floors, while over a smaller, southeast part only one floor has been preserved, although there may have been two. Given, however, that the terrain rises, the ground floor of this smaller southeastern part is almost at the same height as the first floor of the northeastern part.
It is possible that at the end of XIV and during the first half of the XV Century, in this building resided some of rulers of Zeta region, and later, during Venetian domination, it has served as a prince’s palace. Even if this wasn’t the case, it must have belonged to some important families from Bar.
During the renovation of the building, the Ottomans made several changes on its walls, closed or made some new openings, and even built new walls, such as those in the south of the western part of the building, which closed the yard with a smaller building leaning against the southern wall. It is assumed as well that at this time the northeastern room was transformed into the yard. The brick staircase was also made at this point, which made it possible to reach the first floor of adjacent western room, and maybe even a cistern, located in the immediate vicinity of the entrance door on the northern wall.
The gunpowder house was built at the beginning of the XVIII century. The entrance to the building was protected by a small area from the east. The door from the south and the window from the north were added later when the object changed its purpose.
The interior of the gunpowder house is divided into two rooms – one bigger and one smaller. The main chamber is under the dome. Both rooms have a floor made of stone pebbles. On the facades there are two Turkish inscriptions, inserted into shallow slots, and made on plates of white fine-grained limestone. Both inscriptions are in verse, written with quite bad nesh alphabet. The first one says that Hussein-pasha asked Sultan Ahmed-han to build the gunpowder house. When sultan sent approval, Sejid Mehmed-aga ordered to start with the construction. In doing so, the great effort was made by Hasan-aga. The inscription was dated between the 6th of May 1704 and the 24th of April 1705, in the Islamic 1116th year.
After two years, certain constructions were carried out on the gunpowder house. This can be seen from the other inscriptions dated between 30 of August and 15 of September 1707, in the month Jumada II 1119, in which it is said that these interventions were performed by Hussein-Pasha, but does not specify what they consisted of.
Today in gunpowder house the depot / lapidarium is located.
The mosque is located opposite the northern city wall, between the aqueduct and the Omerbašića mosque. It has a minaret made of stone. Cemetery is surrounding the mosque, with the earliest grave with the inscription saying that minaret was restored by Hasećia Ali-aga in 1234 (according to the Islamic calendar), or in 1819. It was destroyed in the fire in 1906, as well as in explosion of the Church of St. Nikola (Orta Mosque) in 1912. Minaret was significantly damaged in the earthquake in 1979, and was reconstructed and statically secured in 2005. There used to be a dervish tekke in this location, probably in XVII century. After archaeological and architectural investigation, the mosque complex with cemetery, house and walls was restored in 2009, when a house next to the mosque house with aveshan and musafirhan was restored as a part of the complex.
Stain Veneranda`s Church
It is a single – nave church, today known as St. Veneranda`s church. Originally was covered with a wooden roof structure. Exceptionally to the Old Town churches, its altar area is orientated almost entirely to the north. Considering its basis, simple solution and simplified forms of architectural elements, it can be assumed that the church belonged to the Dominicans, who came to Bar probably in the middle of the XIII century. Based on its architectural form, it can not be older than the end of XIV – first half of XV Century.
The church was later reorganized. Initially, it had a profiled console on the southern front wall and one console with a lion head on each of the side walls, so that on the south side there was grandstand made of wood. Later, in the Ottoman period, several other consoles were inserted into the side walls, which made it possible to make an intermediate structure and to convert it into a residential building. On that occasion, probably, openings were made in the lower part of the church, which were later built-in. In the floor of the church, parallel to the side walls, two deep longitudinal pits were built, to serve as grain silos.
On the side walls, on the southern front wall, as well as on the eastern part of the front wall of the apse are the remains of seven medallions, used for the sanctification of the church. It is supposed that initially there were 12 of them, in the form of crosses enrolled in the circle on the plaster on which they were made with red color on an ocher base.
Saint John`s Church
The church is dedicated to St. John, and was reconstructed by Savo Dabanović in 1927. It has a single nave with bell above the main portal. Between the portal and the bell there is an overhang with two angels holding a round medallion. Above the portal there is also a Gothic oculus assembled from the fragments of some older rosette. The roof is made of tiles.
On the right side from the entrance was a stone plate embedded in the facade on the height of 2,5m. The inscription on the plate was in Latin, and a local old man remembers that “some man came and put a paper across the plate so they can copy the inscription”. In the photo from 1929 part of this inscription is visible. It was later removed, and place where it use to be was carefully aligned.
According to locals, there were wall paintings inside the church. Some remember that two angels were painted on the vault of the old church, holding a scroll in their hands, which included “Gloria in excelsis Deo”.
Considering the church location in one of the most prestigious areas of The Old Town of Bar, on a small crossroads square, and that it has a rather archaic shape, it could not be excluded that this might be a position of the older St. Peter church, mentioned in 1247 when deacon Matej came from Dubrovnik to Bar. In front of this church the prince would gather the elders, supervisors and other people for counseling.
Citadel and Aqueduct
On the northeastern corner of the rocky hill at which Bar is located, the upper fortress was erected, which simultaneously defended the northern corner of the original triangular solution of the urban disposition of The Old Town of Bar, and it seemed to serve as the last defense in case the city itself was occupied. It would be a kind of citadel of a purely military character. Chronologically, different building phases can be distinguish.
Towards the north side of the city tower, an Ottoman-era aqueduct with 17 arches, supported with the same number of columns, was built. It was used to bring water to the Town from the spring located 3km away. The aqueduct route was in a form of irregular, broken line. It was formed from a canal carried by a construction with different arches, on which layed interconnected ceramic pipes.