Kotor, Montenegro

Today we visit Kotor, Montenegro. Kotor is a small, fortified town with a population of around 25,000.  In fact in all of Montenegro there are less than 700,000 people. It was formerly part of Yugoslavia. We find that we have been pronouncing Kotor incorrectly all these years. It sounds like “couture.”

Coming into the series of bays that lead to Kotor at dawn
Little islands in one of the bays
Our ship approaching the dock in Kotor
Kotor is totally surrounded by walls starting at the fortress on top of the mountain, going down the mountainside and surrounding the town

We are taking a guided walking tour of this small town and then we will do a little exploring on our own. Kotor was settled by Illyrians in the 4th century BC. The Montenegrins were ruled for a time by the Romans, the Venetians, had to fight off the Ottoman Empire numerous times, were part of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, became part of Yugoslavia after WWI, and after the break-up of Yugoslavia, Montenegro became independent in 2006. Unlike much of the former countries of Yugoslavia, Montenegro achieved its statehood peacefully.

Main gate to the city with a date when Kotor was freed from the Nazis in 1944 by partisans lead by Tito

Our tour takes us through a series of charming squares. We also visit St. Tryphon’s Cathedral and a small museum.

Charming square
Old clock tower
House construction is like Malta’s, houses flush to to the street with a courtyard in the interior and external stairs from the courtyard.
St. Tryphon’s Cathedral where St. Tryphon’s head is in a reliquary
Due to numerous earthquakes the frescoes are badly damaged
Gold and silver alterpiece
After the visit to St. Tryphon’s we run into our first cat. But more about that later
In the small museum we see the coat of arms of Kotor with St. Tryphon, a fortress, and the Venetian lion
Map of Montenegro with ship’s route in red
Traditional dress

At this point we depart the walking tour and decide to 1) have a beer in the place where we had one with Karen and George many years ago, 2) give a second look at St. Tryphon’s and a quick visit to St. Luke’s, and 3) eat lunch at a restaurant and have some traditional Montenegrin food.

First is have a beer. We have been calling this Nick-sick-o for a long time but discover that it is pronounced Neek-seech -ko today. Who knew?

Once we are back at St. Tryphon we buy a ticket to see the church museum, often the best place to see some interesting art. We also heard that the reliquary holding St. Tryphon’s head is there!

Martyred St. Tryphon’s head was on its way to Venice when the ship got blown into the Bay of Kotor. The ship tried to leave for three days but was blown back each time. The townspeople decided that this must be a sign from God that St. Tryphon’s head was sent there to protect them. So they kept and continue to keep his head in a silver reliquary and named St. Tryphon patron saint of Kotor.
St. Rocco and his plague spot because who doesn’t enjoy looking at a plague sore
Interesting. The figure on this apsidal carving look like they were made by Longobards. There is no information but we know that the Longobards were definitely in northern Italy and maybe the Istrian peninsula

Now it is on to lunch. The guide suggested a restaurant not far from St.Tryphon’s. We order salad and grilled squid. John’s dish is Montenegrin style (stuffed) and mine (pictured) is not stuffed.

A word about the cats of Kotor, one of the emblems of the city.  Cats had a very practical application in Kotor. Since the cats killed rats in this port city it helped protect the population from the plague. The city has adopted the many types of cats that exist here by feeding them and even providing small homes for them. The cats all look healthy and see the tourists as a way to get a small snack.

These two cats sat next to our table while we ate lunch.
Mary enjoying lunch and the cats

After lunch we head to the old church of St. Luke built in 1195. It is quite tiny with a single nave. In a side room there is a painted panel. It holds several full length portraits. I do not know who painted it or what year it was done but the folds in the material looks very 13th century.

Not sure who this is but the cloak and the background is very 13th century, It could be a more recent icon however.
My favorite is John the Baptist holding his own head on a plate

After returning to the ship, we have some quiet time, have a drink and listen to Allen, the guitarist, and  have dinner at the Chef’s Table. All the dinners at the Chef’s Table are repeats now but we still enjoy going there.