Right in the middle of the Boka Kotorska (Bay of Kotor), and halfway between the towns of Kotor and Herceg Novi, is the village of Morinj, a small picturesque seaside hamlet known for its lush green mountainous slopes, crystal clear springs and creeks, old watermills and rich cultural history. Just 5km from the region’s ancient capital, Risan, Morinj possesses one of the greenest and most diverse ecologies in this part of the Dinaric Alps.
Its natural pebble beach, lush forests, and network of interconnected springs, known as Little Venice (Mala Venecija), is perfectly suited for families who wish to spend their holiday truly immersed in the local culture, history and untouched nature.
One of the Bay’s best known seafood restaurants, the Catovic Mills (Catovica Mlini) sits on the shores of Morinj’s Little Venice. This family-owned restaurant features exceptional local seafood specialties, in addition to other Mediterranean favorites that make it a unique dining experience.
The history of Morinj
Although not as well-known by travelers as Kotor and Herceg Novi, Morinj’s history is larger than the hamlet itself. Venetians ruled Morinj after defeating the Ottoman Turks. In the early 18th century, Morinj started experiencing economic growth. During this time, entrepreneurs, captains of great vessels and the shipbuilders made their fortunes taking the region’s sons onto the high seas. With this newly found wealth, they constructed beautiful stone houses along the coast with meter-thick walls, which standing today as a testament to their locals’ fortitude. Prior to the Venetian and Austro-Hungarian economic booms, Upper Morinj was considered the village center. During the uncertain Turkish times, people stayed away from the very dangerous coast.
Once the Turks were defeated, Morinj grew to become the second most populated town after the regional capital, Kotor. During this time many locals maintained vineyards, olive gardens and grew wheat and corn in Morinj’s favorable climate, so the village at one point had 20 mills working, where people from all over the bay would bring their crops.
“Our dear Boka, Adriatic’s bride. Droped with the sky like with silk blue, Prettier than any Nereid are you, Upon you beauty you should yourself pride”
Today, only two mills are standing, Catovica Mlini and one which still operates in Little Venecia. Morinj’s Saint Jovan parish also established the region’s first elementary school in 1804 to teach its pupils in their native Serbian. At the time, schools only offered education in German and Italian, which left the local population largely self-taught or literate in only foreign languages. With the increased use of steam engines and the disappearance of the beautiful sails which once dotted our coasts, Morinj’s economy began to decline. Many immigrated to the United States, among them Sheriff Marko Milinovich of Virginia City, Nevada, shot dead in a Western shootout by outlaws in 1863. By the early 20th century, almost two thirds of the population between the ages of 18-40 had left. The Yugoslav Kingdom brought another wave of prosperity after its establishment in 1918, but the onset of World War II, and then fifty years of Communist dictatorship, furthered Morinj’s decline.