The Bay of Kotor is one of the most unique natural attractions of the Mediterranean.Kotor is situated in the triangle bound by the sea, river Škurda and hill Saint Ivan, on top of which stands the fortress of San Giovanni.
History of Kotor
Kotor is located at the end of Boka Bay; surrounded by mountains, notably Lovćen National Park, and the sea, it is no wonder it is officially one of the 25 most beautiful bays in the world. Although the time and place of its origin are not clearly established the history of Kotor is certainly rich.
The early history of Kotor is vague due to contradictory facts.
Kotor was first mentioned in 168BC, when it was settled during Ancient Roman times, when it was known as Acruvium. However some sources suggest residents from Acruvium relocated to Catarum, the town we now call Kotor, due to danger from barbarians. In Byzantine sources the name of the town in Dekateron. From the time of Humanism the name is Ascrivium. The name Kotor is the Slavic version of the antique Catarum.
The town has a long history and has been run by many different governments and administrations.
In the 3rd century B.C. it was ruled by the Illyrians. In 168 B.C. it was conquered by the Romans who ruled until the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 A.D. After, Kotor became part of the Eastern Roman Empire, i.e. the Byzantine Empire where it remained until 1185. The Byzantine rule was interrupted in the mid 11th century by the government of the Doclean-Zeta dynasty of the Vojislavljevićs. The Byzantine administration was re-established in the 12th century until 1185, when Kotor became part of the medievalSerbian stateRaška, ruled by the Nemanjić dynasty. The Serbian state ruled until 1371 when Ludovic I, the Hungarian-Croatian King took over the town. Between 1384 and 1391 the town was ruled by the Bosnian king Tvrtko. Then from 1391 to 1420 Kotor was an independent town-state when it came under the protection of the Venetian Republic until 1797; the fall of the Republic. The first period of Austrian rule of Kotor was between 1797 and 1805 and then for one year in 1806 it was ruled by the Russians. The French ruled Kotor from 1807 to 1813. After this the temporary government was established consisting of the two united provinces, Boka Kotorska Bay and Montenegro, otherwise known as the Central Commission, this lasted for one year until 1814. Then came the second period of Austrian rule between 1814 and 1918.
After World War I Kotor became part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes and then later the Republic of Montenegro, one of the 6 republics comprising the Socialist Federative Republic (SFR) of Yugoslavia. Following the fall of the SFR of Yugoslavia, Kotor remained within the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (1992-2003) before becoming the state union of Serbia and Montenegro. In May 2006 a referendum marked the withdrawal of Montenegro from such union and Kotor became part of the independent state of Montenegro.
Despite the brief nature of this overview it is possible to gain an image of the historical circumstances in the region of Kotor. Remember, however, that during the Middle Ages the town administration of Kotor had control of its situation. Despite its independence gradually diminishing its citizens have maintained a sense of loyalty and belonging to their town.
Kotor is a meeting place for many cultures, due to its many political administrations and sea trade traditions. It has accepted cultural patterns from around the globe and united them it its own way. Kotor has developed and continues to maintain the harmonious way of life of its Catholic and Orthodox inhabitants, the basis for cultural and spiritual interaction. Thanks to the cultural heritage Kotor is listed in the UNESCO List of world cultural and natural heritage.
Points of interest
The old town of Kotor is fortified by high walls up to 20m high and 10m wide, built sometime between the 9th and 18th century. Above the old town the fortress can be seen from afar, on the hill Saint Ivan (260m). The town gates are a unique example of fortifications in Europe.
Kotor Old Town has three gates, the sea gate was rebuilt in Renaissance style in 1555 and leads to promenade and the coast.
Kotor main gate
The north gate to the river was rebuilt in the same style in 1540 to commemorate the victory over the fleet Hajredin Barbarossa, leading to Risan and Herceg Novi, while the southern gate was re-established in the late 17th century, leading to the Trinity and the intersection of Cetinje – Budva.
Kotor is characterised by a number of typical Mediterranean village features such as large and small squares and narrow winding streets. The largest and most impressive architecture is shaped by the Square of Arms, near the main gate. In this main square there are several old buildings like the Renaissance Rector’s Palace which in the early 19th century was one of the oldest theatres in the region. The Baroque clock tower in the main square was built in the 17th century.
Square of Arms
The Pima Palace, built in the 17th century, on another square is also another example of impressive architecture, it is constructed in a combination of Renaissane and Baroque styles.
PALACE OF PIMA FAMILY
In the Grgurina Palace is the Maritime Museum which displays a collection of ancient weapons, models, costumes and images of Boka sailboats and ships and naval battles seafarers from the region. For more history one can visit the Historical Archives of Kotor, located in front of the Cathedral, where the oldest surviving document dates back to 1326.
St. Triphon’s Cathedral
The most significant monument in the Old Town of Kotor is St. Triphon’s Cathedral, which dates back to medieval times. Although under construction for decades the cathedral was finally completed and consecrated in 1166, this is confirmed in a preserved written testimony.
The cathedral was built on the old cultural place of the town, in 809 stood a small pre-Roman church also dedicated to Saint Triphon. The foundations of the original church formed the shape of a cross with a dome above the central part. Andrea Saracenis, an inhabitant of Kotor, was a patron of the church identified by a sarcophagus which bears his name.
The cathedral and the treasury-reliquiarum house valuable furnishings and works of art. On one side of the ciborium from the original church (9th century) is a pre-Roman wattle – an interlacing ornament and lions which is particularly rare. The newer, higher ciborium dates back to the 14th century and is likely the work of Vito Kotoranin, apprentice to Fra. The four marble altars were made in the 18th century in Venice. A relief of the Virgin Mary with Christ was made in the baroque manner by DeziderioKotoranin. Also, on display there are examples of silver and gold-plated pieces made by Kotor’s medieval gold and silversmiths.
In the first half of the 14th century the entire church was decorated with frescoes, or so-called pictoresgraeci, however only small fragments have been preserved – the Crucifixion and the Resurrection and around ten figures in the arches between the naves. Easel paintings in the cathedral include the Crucifixion by BasanStariji, double-sided icons depicting the Virgin Mary and Christ in the Tomb attributed to LovroDobrićević, Paying Homage to the Kings by MihaelNajdlinger, Sts. Vartolomej, Djordje and Antonin by Girolamo da Santacroce and various other works by unknown artists.
The Gulf of Kotor is formed of four beautiful bays, surrounded by mountains – these bays are otherwise known as the “fjords” of the Mediterranean. Perast is a little coastal town situated at the foot of St. Elijah Hill (873 m.) opposite Verige; the narrow strait where the innermost bays of Risan and Kotor converge. The eastern side of Boka Bay was the earliest known inhabited area of the Gulf of Kotor. In the caves of Spila, above Perast, the remains of a Neolithic culture (3500 BC) and various archaeological finds provide evidence of civilisation dating from Illyrian, Roman and early Christian periods.
Perast is preceded by two jewel-like islands; one natural and one man-made. The inherent contrast of stone and water, the interaction between mainland and bay and the stark beauty of island and wave, in harmony or often in conflict, this pretty little town has derived its strength, unity and sense of purpose. Despite its size, the town has seen the rise of a sophisticated urban structure, evident in the proportion and scale of the great number of public buildings, particularly along the seafront.