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The closed city of Kotor

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General presentationGeneral information
Kotor is one of the Mediterranean cities whose medieval town planning was best preserved; the structure of the old city (Stari Grad) was established between 12th and the 14th century. But it is the period ranging between 1420 and 1797 - when Kotor and its area belonged to the Republic of Venice - which marked the architecture of the city of the Venetian influence.

On April 15th, 1979 a major earthquake struck the coastal area of Montenegro; half of the old city of Kotor was destroyed and the cathedral Saint-Tryphon was partially damaged. After this catastrophe, UNESCO decided to classify the medieval city of Kotor, as well as bay of Kotor, with the world heritage of humanity.


Plan of the Old Town of Kotor. Click to enlarge the image.Situation of the Closed City. Click to enlarge the image.The medieval part of the town of Kotor is located on a triangular piece of ground which is bordered on the south-western side by the major extension of bay of Kotor; by the Škurda river on the side of north, and by the mount Midsummer’s Day (Sveti Ivan/San Giovanni) towards the east. The walls protect the city on its south-western and northern sides.


The Closed City
Plan of the Closed City of Kotor. Click to enlarge the image.At the entrance of the old city of Kotor one reads the inscription:
“What belongs to others, we do not want it; what is ours, we will never give up it”.
Street of Kotor. Click to enlarge the image in Adobe Stock (new tab).Place. Click to enlarge the image in Adobe Stock (new tab).Street of Kotor. Click to enlarge the image.
The place of weapons (Trg od Oružja)
Pilori of Kotor on the Place of Weapons. Click to enlarge the image.The Place of Weapons is the greatest place of Kotor where one penetrates by the Door of the Sea. Some of the most important buildings of Kotor are located on this place: the Theater Napoleon and the Arsenal.

In front of the tower of the clock one can see a curious stone pyramid which was used as pilori at the time medieval.

The turn-clock
The tower of the clock. Click to enlarge the image.The worthy turn-clock, of Renaissance style, was built with the whole beginning of the 17th century (1602) on the Place of Weapons. The clock was added only in 1810.

By observing the tower well, one can see that it leans: the earthquake of 1979 is the cause.

Vault. Click to enlarge the image.Until the beginning of the 20th century, catholic Croatian constituted the majority of the population of Kotor and other localities of the mouths of Kotor, whereas the orthodoxe population Montenegrin was more reduced.

Nowadays the Orthodoxe ones are much more numerous than the Catholics, but the Catholic churches are more numerous than the orthodoxe churches; also, most these Catholic churches are closed for lack of parishioners

The two communities are now largely linked by mixed marriages: an abstract rule wants that a son is baptized in the religion of his father and a girl in the religion of his mother.

The cathedral Saint-Tryphon (Katedrala Svetog Tripuna)
The cathedral Saint-Tryphon (or Saint-Triphon), built in 1166 on the ruins of an old church of the 9th century, underwent since, following destruction, many contributions of different styles but remains typically Romance. The cathedral of Kotor is regarded as the most beautiful church of Montenegro.

The church Saint-Tryphon was built with the site of an old church going back to 809, that is to say before the scission between Catholiques and Orthodoxe. The construction of this old church préromane had been undertaken by an inhabitant of Kotor, Andrea Saracenis, who had bought the relics of Tryphon saint to a Venetian merchant who had brought them from Constantinople.

The new cathedral church was built starting from 1166, at the origin in the Romance style, on the vestiges of this church of the 9th century.

The earthquake of 1667 destroyed the bell-tower and part of the frontage. The frontage, recognizable in its two turns connected by a gate forming a porch, was thus rebuilt at the 17th century in the style baroque.

The interior of the cathedral was decorated with mural frescos by Greek Masters with the 14th century. Of these frescos which formerly recovered all the interior of the building, there remain today nothing any more but some traces recently put at the day, in the apse, in particular. On the right of the main entrance, one can see the sarcophagus of Andrea Saracenis, which built the first church Saint-Tryphon, and of his wife, Maria.

Engraving of Saint-Tryphon. Click to enlarge the image.On the side opposed to the entry, staircases lead to a small vault of the 14th century when the relics of the patron saint of the town of Kotor are preserved, holy Tryphon (Sveti Trifun). This vault is decorated of white marble plank a finely carved, work of certain Francesco Cabianca, a Venetian artist of the 18th century. Always in this vault, one can finally see a large cross out of wooden of unknown origin on which one guesses the features of crucified Jesus.

The baldachin surmounting the furnace bridge (ciborium) constitutes a splendid example of Gothic art. Formed by four red marble columns supporting an octagonal construction on three levels, this monumental baldachin is decorated sculptures illustrating the life of Tryphon saint.

The treasure of the cathedral contains many objects crowned of 15th at the 18th century.

On the frontage of the cathedral a commemorative plaque installed in 1925 in honor of millenium of the crowning of first Croatian king Tomislav is.

The cathedral was completely restored after the earthquake of 1979.

In 2009, celebrations marked the 1200e birthday of the discovery of the relics of Tryphon saint. On this occasion, the pope Benedict XVI declared the cathedral Saint-Tryphon papal basilica for the whole year.

Cathedral Saint-Tryphon. Click to enlarge the image in Adobe Stock (new tab).Cathedral Saint-Tryphon. Click to enlarge the image in Adobe Stock (new tab).Cathedral Saint-Tryphon. Click to enlarge the image in Adobe Stock (new tab).
The church Saint-Luc (Crkva Svetog Luke)
Church Saint-Luc. Click to enlarge the image in Adobe Stock (new tab).The church Saint-Luc (Sveti Luka) goes back to 1195; it was in the beginning a Catholic church, but, in 1657, it was opened with the orthodoxe rite by the Venetian authorities when that many orthodoxe Christians found refuge with Kotor in front of the Turkish invasion. It is used by the faithful ones of the two confessions and lays out of two furnace bridges, one orthodoxe, the other catholic.

Its architecture mixes the styles novel and Byzantine.

Interior, lit by candles, present of beautiful icons which are the work of Dimitrije Daskal (17th century).

The small church Saint-Luc is located in the middle of the small place of the same name, vis-a-vis a music school. It is closed most of the year, and is open only for special occasions (marriages, baptisms) and during the tourist season (guided visits).

The church Saint Nicolas’s Day (Crkva Svetog Nikole)
Orthodoxe church Saint Nicolas's Day. Click to enlarge the image.The church Saint Nicolas’s Day (Sveti Nikola) is the orthodoxe cathedral of Kotor; it dates from the beginning of the 20th century (1909) and celebrated its 100e birthday in 2009. A church, built at the 17th century, existed on this site, but was destroyed at the 19th century.

Its frontage with two turns opens on the place Saint-Luc. A flag of the Serb orthodoxe church is raised there. The interior presents a rich collection of icons.

The Saint Nicolas’s Day church is open all the year; one can also admire it under an angle different since the Campana tower from the western ramparts.

The church Saint-Michel (Crkva svetog Mihaila)
Michaelmas church. Click to enlarge the image.The church Saint-Michel, of 14th and 15th centuries, has Gothic frescos.

In the cemetery, a concise museum (Lapidarium) presents a collection of sculptures on stone of the armorial bearings of the nobility of Kotor.

The church Holy-Claire (Crkva svete Klare)
Church Holy-Claire. Click to enlarge the image.The church Holy-Claire is a Franciscan church of the 14th century, several times altered.

The church shelters a very beautiful furnace bridge baroque out of polychrome marble; decorated with about thirty sculptures representing of the angels accompanied by holy Claire and with Saint Francis of Assisi, this furnace bridge is the work of Venetian Francesco Cabianca (18th century), also author of the marble plank decorating the small vault inside the cathedral Saint-Tryphon.

The church Holy-Claire contains a library of old manuscripts, of which oldest goes back to Xe century, as well as a collection of printed books of the end of the 15th century.

The collegiate church Sainte-Marie (Crkva Sv Marije Koleđate)
Collegiate church Sainte-Marie. Click to enlarge the image.The collegiate church Sainte-Marie (Marija Koleđata) is located very close to the northern main door of the Closed City (Door of the River) on the Place of Wood (Pjaca Od Drva). It is a church of the date of the 13th century (1221), built out of pink and white stones, with the site of a primitive basilica of the Life century. One recently discovered there the remainders of the baptistry of this church dating from the Life century and the reign of the Byzantine emperor Justinien.

Stained glass of holy Hosanna. Click to enlarge the image.Splendid frescos of the 17th century of inspiration serbo-Byzantines were also put there at the day as well as a crucifix. The restoration of this last, in 1984, was at the origin of the discovery of three parts going back to 1374 and showing Austrian characteristics.

The visit is particularly spectacular of night, when the church and the place are illuminated, on bottom of also enlightened ramparts.

The church also shelters the sarcophagus containing the relics of the nun anchorite Hosanna, a holy converted Montenegrin of the orthodoxe religion to the Catholic religion Roman, and beatified at the beginning of the 20th century for its participation in the combat against the Turkish admiral Barberousse in the 16th century. Scenes of its life appear on the low-relief of the door of the church. The Sainte-Marie church besides is often called “Holy-Hosanna” by the inhabitants of Kotor. The noncorrupted body of happy Hosanna was preserved in the church Saint-Paul until 1807, when the glorious French Army, animated Spirit of the Lights, transformed this church into warehouse. The body of future holy Hosanna of Kotor was then transported to the Sainte-Marie church.

The church Holy-Anne (Crkva Svete Donkey)
The church Holy-Anne, with the end of the 12th century, is decorated with a fresco of the 15th century.
The vault Our-Lady-of-Safety (Gospe od Zdravlja)
Halfway to the Midsummer’s Day fortress, draws up a vault known under the name of Our-Lady-of-Safety (Gospe od Zdravlja) and built by the survivors of the plague having struck the area of Kotor in 1572.
Fortifications of Kotor. Click to enlarge the image.Vault Our-Lady-of-Safety. Click to enlarge the image.
Apart from the walls of the closed city, one can also quote the church Saint-Matthieu (1670), built on the foundations of a former medieval church and the church Saint-Eustache (1773).
Palace. Click to enlarge the image in Adobe Stock (new tab).The architectural richness of Kotor is due mainly to its many palaces baroques set up by the local aristocracy under the Venetian domination, of 15th at the 18th century. These buildings not visiting itself, one can admire them only outside.
The episcopal palace
Episcopal palace. Click to enlarge the image in Adobe Stock (new tab).The episcopal palace is the seat of évêché catholic of the diocese of Kotor, which covers the whole of bay of Kotor. The diocese of Kotor for the first time was mentioned in a document of years 530.

Until the beginning of the 20th century, the catholics constituted the majority around the gulf of Kotor.

The Gregorian palace (Palata Grgurina)
The Grgurina palace. Click to enlarge the image.The Gregorian palace (Grgurina/Gregorina), of style baroque, date of the 18th century.

The palace accommodates today the maritime Museum of Montenegro.

The palace of the Dragons (Palata Drago)
The Drago palace. Click to enlarge the image.The Drago palace, located beside the cathedral Saint-Tryphon, date of the 16th century. The palace of origin, of the 14th century, was destroyed by the collapse of part of the cathedral at the time of the earthquake of 1667.

Decorated with dragons, the palace is an example of Gothic architecture.

It shelters today the Institute Régional de Protection of the Cultural Monuments.

The palace Pima (Palata Pima)
The Pima palace, recognizable with its long balustrade baroque, date completion of the 17th century. Above his gate, one can see the escutcheon of the Pima family supported by two angels.
The palace Bizanti (Palata Bizanti)
The Bizanti palace of the 17th century is located at the south of the Place of Weapons.
The palace Beskucha (Palata Beskuća)
Just opposite the Bizanti palace, the Besuća palace, of the middle of the 18th century, also located at the south of the Place of Weapons.
The palace Roughed-hew (Palata Buća)
The palace Roughed-hew date of the beginning of the 14th century.
Buća palace. Click to enlarge the image.
The maritime museum (Pomorski muzej)
Installed in the Gregorian palace, the small Museum of the Sea presents an interesting collection testifying to the importance of the maritime life last in the mouths of Kotor. One can admire there, inter alia objects, of the tables of battle, of the pieces of furniture, clock and accessories having belonged to the rich families of the area, of the uniforms of the navy of the mouths of Kotor, of the superbly decorated firearms (of which some French weapons seized at the time of the battles against the Napoleonean troops of occupation).

At the ground floors, impassioned maritime history will be able to consult the archives of the museum, including some 16,000 works and charts.

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Map of the closed city of Kotor
The closed city of Kotor
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Mouths of Kotor
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