Reflecting the Bay of Kotor’s rich maritime traditions, Porto Montenegro’s Naval Heritage Collection is housed in a beautifully restored building just inland from the new Yacht Club complex.
Showcasing over 300 artifacts, visitors can find everything from restored Yugoslav-era submarines to the diaries of Montenegro’s Princess Ksenija and Austro-Hungarian ship equipment, some more than 100 years old.
Themed exhibitions are displayed throughout the year in addition to the permanent collection; for many though, the star attraction remains the imposing navy blue P-821 ‘Hero’ submarine standing proudly across the street from the NHC building, the first submarine that the Yugoslav Navy designed and produced in Split in 1968. Fully restored and now visitor friendly, guided tours are available in summer months.
To really understand the history of this area however, one needs to take in the story of Tivat’s Arsenal, the site occupied by Porto Montenegro today. Established in 1889, legend has it that it was built upon the singular initiative of Admiral Maximilian Daublebsky von Sterneck of the Austro-Hungarian Navy, a long-time admirer of the Boka Bay.
During the First World War vastly increased demand for weaponry, warship and submarine repair meant that the Boka Bay soon became one of the key strategic submarine bases in the region, with a record peak of 33 submarines sitting in the Bay at one time in 1917.
Gradually the Arsenal expanded its offering to include the repair of a far wider range of vessels, Reflecting the Bay of Kotor’s rich maritime traditions, Porto Montenegro’s Naval Heritage Collection is housed in a beautifully restored building just inland from the new Yacht Club complex. from tugboats to minelayers and torpedo boats. It also manufactured spare parts and armaments as well as offering an extensive training and apprenticeship program, helping to foster generation after generation of highly skilled workers.
More recently it was used by the Yugoslav Navy during the Balkan wars of the late 20th century before subsequently sliding into a seemingly unavoidable financial collapse. It was only in 2006 when Canadian businessman Peter Munk agreed to lease the territory on which the Arsenal stands for a period of 99 years that the area’s economic renaissance truly began in earnest.
By 2010 the Arsenal’s coastline was once again accessible to civilians after being used exclusively for military purposes for the previous 121 years and even to this day, Porto Montenegro remains an open access marina, welcoming locals and international visitors alike. The Naval Heritage Collection is intended to commemorate and protect this narrative for future generations on behalf of the local people of Tivat.
Curator: Drazen Jovanovic
ABOVE: Navy rowing practice in the Bay during the 1960s.