Friday, August 12, 2011

Stari Grad: The Old Town of Kotor, Montenegro

Though it has, over the centuries, come under the reign of many kings, emperors, and political dynasties, today Montenegro (Crna Gora) is a free and democratic, newly independent country.

After a luscious morning of cruising along the coast of Montenegro, we dock and port in the Old Town walled city of Kotor and head ashore.

For thousands of years, ships passing through the narrow inlet on this eastern coast of the Adriatic surrounded by stunning limestone mountains and beautiful (Boka Kotorska) waters have sought port in Kotor, which is one of Europe’s best preserved medieval era and Renaissance cities.

The walls of the city are truly amazing, so you pass along the little cafes and shops, each built right into stone, you can't help but transport yourself back into the Renaissance.

The Romans controlled Kotor, known as Acruvium, two centuries before Christ and established the first fortifications, maintaining rule until the 5th century. Germanic Goths swept through causing Emperor Justinian, ruling from Constantinople, to hurry the battlements.

Huge towering walls... I mean, every where you go, alleyways, lanes, churches, houses, everything just stuck right into the walls. Awesome! I stop to chat with a woman selling jewelry and a man wiping his hands on an apron on a smoke break.

Beginning in the 1400s, Kotor was absorbed into the powerful trading empire of the Venetians then taken over by the Ottoman Turks, then the Hapsburgs, followed by the Napoleonic French, and finally restored to the Austrians who lost the city to Yugoslavia following the collapse of World War I.

I follow a cat up a flight of stairs and smile at an old woman cooking in a pot. I felt safe with the girls too... Kinu gets inspired by stone and rock, I think... demanding gelato at almost every turn. I can see her getting tougher and tougher, but also so funny and quick. I mean, Kinu says things that I don't even think of, always the opposite. She is a riot.
During World War II, fascist Italy and Nazi Germany occupied Kotor, but the city was liberated in 1944 by the Allies. When Yugoslavia splintered in the late 20th century, the people of Montenegro eventually voted for independence which arrived in 2006.

Brian the dorky dad made an equally awesome appearance today, filming all kinds of silly stuff for the most amazing videos to be edited later. REALLY.... stay tuned!

The Town Ramparts and Walls were built by the Venetians from the 14th through 17th centuries and extends nearly three miles around the city. The Gates are the only way to gain entrance.

Getting lost in these little winding streets and heading up into the stone passages of the mountains. It's good to feel so secure in life, isn't it? Walled cities do that. It makes me think of living inside the walls of one's own heart, who we let in and who we don't. Who we feel safe with and who we make climb over to see of what sterner stuff they are made.

The Clock Tower was initially constructed in 1602, built in the Gothic/Baroque style, but an earthquake in 1667 caused the tower to learn, which it did for three centuries until restoration in after another quake in 1979.

I also love this sense of uniformity, like the European mindset to create something just for the sake of its beauty. That was the Renaissance, huh? This idea of attempting beauty as an ideal, to reach out to God... therein lies the protection. We wrap ourselves in ideals.

The Cathedral of Saint Tryphon dates back to the mid 1100’s. Predating Notre Dame and St. Peter’s by centuries, it is one of the oldest churches in Europe.

Anyway, poking my head into doorways, following kittens, running around on stones with my girls, climbing the spiral staircases of towers to look out over the sea. Kotor is magnificient.

The Church of Saint Luke was completed in the Roman/Byzantine style in the late 1100s.

Avoided the crowds, but did follow a Russian tour group around and had a lovely conversation with an old professor who was now traveling the world watching sunsets. I told him I could relate.
Cool example of Renaissance architecture

But eventually the day came to an end and it was time to get back on the ship and set sail. Kotor was a beautiful day. Wonderful!

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