Monday, February 10, 2020

A Small Wonder- Kotor

The Harbour of Kotor

After immersing in the beauty of Perast, it was time to move further to a yet another spectacular destination just about 12 km away. Kotor is located in the secluded part of the Bay of Kotor. The overhanging cliffs of limestone are visible all around as the journey proceeds in the direction of Kotor. With a meagre population of 13500 people, the place has emerged as a hot tourist destination for its natural beauty and the Old Town (now a UNESCO Heritage site).
Huge passenger ship berthed in Kotor
As our vehicle veered around a bend my eyes widened in disbelief to see two multistoried herculean ships berthed in the Bay of Kotor just a short distance away.  What was surprising is that ships with so many tourists are not uncommon during summertime, but at the end of December, it was certainly unusual. We had reached the city centre in less than half an hour. Our guide took us to the entry point of the Old town and handed over to a new guide who was local and was to show us around. The sights around us were straight from the fairy tales. Huge wall fortifications, the massive entry gates, gothic churches and never-ending stream of visitors greeted us.
The Main Entrance to Old Town
An eye-catching sign at the entrance of the Old town with a post-World War 2 sign read “ What belongs to others we don’t want, ours we don’t give”. Another unusual sight was the presence of many cats and soon we learnt that the town has the only Cat Museum that is unique and one of it's kind in the world.
Cathedral of St Tryphon
Kotor is one of the best-preserved UNESCO Heritage towns in the Adriatic. It is home to numerous sites like the Cathedral of Saint Tryphon built in 1166AD and fortified walls all around the Old Town almost 4.3 km long. As soon as we entered the main gate of the town we came face to face with a huge Old Main Square. 

Old Palaces decorated with Gift boxes and Santa Claus
We stopped for a while to look at the beautiful stone houses with Venetian Blinds festooned with gift boxes, buntings and small dolls dressed as Santa Claus, and Old Clock Tower on the right that greeted us. Tucked in between the stone-walled houses lies the St Nicholas Church with very impressive murals inside.
The Clock Tower
Within a short walking distance is the towering Clock Tower and adjacent to it is the Piazza of the Arms. There are some trees more than 250 years old whose huge branches provide shade to the tourists. Many empires fought for seeking control of this town throughout the centuries. Its fortunes fluctuated from Byzantine era to be ruled by Venetian, Hungarian and Austrian rulers till it became a part of Yugoslavia
The Interior of St Tryphon Cathedral
St Tryphon Cathedral was damaged extensively during the earthquake in 1979 but was restored to its old glory. It has a very rich collection of artefacts including frescoes of 14th century. The church was built to honour the city’s patron saint Tryphon.
The Church of St Nicholas  is a Serbian Orthodox Church that was rebuilt in 1902 in place of the earlier structure that was lost in a huge fire.
St Luke Church
The Church of St Luke is one of the oldest built in 1195 AD. It combines the features of Byzantine and Roman architecture. Miraculously it is one of the few structures that escaped the two earthquakes. It is unique as it has both Orthodox and Catholic altars.
Pima Palace
It is not unusual to see the steel bars embedded in the old structures to prevent any future damages due to the earthquake. 
Lombardic Palace
Some of the most beautiful palaces that need a mention are Grubonja (located next to the St Ivan Fortress), Lombardic Palace( three-storied, that belonged to a wealthy family located next to St Luke Church), Pima Palace( built-in 17th century with long Baroque Balustrade) are a must-see besides several others.

In addition to all these beautiful sightseeing treats, the Jan Karski fountain and an Olive tree dedicated to a Jew, who tried to prevent the Holocaust during the WW2 just in front of the harbour is beautiful.  The images of Santa Claus were visible all over the town in the form of huge busts and small puppets. 

Perhaps the most fitting finale was a dance by school children in traditional attire that was being performed on a lilting local tune as a part of the New Year festivities.

Kotor has a charm that is incomparable and the only regret was the paucity of time as we had to head for a yet another destination Budwa about which I will narrate in the next blog post.

PS All pics and video were taken by me

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