St Tryphon’s Square

St Tryphon’s Cathedral, Bishop Palace, Drago Palace, Kotor Historical Archives
Kotor Old Town St Tryphon’s Square
Kotor Old Town St Tryphon’s Square

It is the main square in Kotor, Montenegro. It has been the gathering square for many centuries for the people living in Kotor on special occasions. 

What to see: St Tryphon’s Cathedral, Bishop Palace, Drago Palace, Kotor Historical Archives

St Tryphon’s Cathedral: In 809 the Venetian merchants brought the relics from Constantinople to Kotor. Andrea Saracenis, a citizen of Kotor, bought the relics and built the St Tryphon’s chuch. This first church was built for exhibiting the relics which was mentioned in the work of Byzantine Emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogenetus called De Administrando Imperio (On the Governance of the Empire). This work was the only evidence of this first church until 1987, when there were new findings with the archaeological researches. 

St George who had been the patron saint of Kotor, became the patron of this first church as well when St Tryphon’s cult increased. In 1124, during the time of bishop Ursacius, a new church was started to be constructed, maybe in need of a bigger church or maybe the first one was destroyed. The constructions lasted until 1166. It was built in Romanesque style with examples of Byzantine architecture. In 1166 the cathedral was consecrated by the Kotor bishop Maio. 

Unfortunately the cathedral was damaged in 1537, 1563, 1667 and 1979 earthquakes and it was renewed four times between 1584 and 1613, 1671 and 1683 after the 1667 earthquake which is known as the Great Dubrovnik earthquake, 1892 and 1908, 1987 and 2001. Therefore each restoration reflected the spirit and the taste of the era they were in especially Renaissance and Baroque styles with the first and second constructions. During the third reconstruction, triforium from the original 1166 church was discovered. After the 1979 earthquake, the cathedral, although not much damaged, was reconstructed for the fourth time, mostly to uncover the well preserved elements of the original church which was built in 1166. 

The Romanesque-Gothic Ciborium dating back to 1362 is the most important interior decoration of the cathedral. There are also many paintings of various styles inside the cathedral. During medieval times it was a prestige to have as many relics of saints as possible. They were exhibited in a chamber called reliquary. St Tryphon’s Church reliquary is very rich in relics like the relic of the Holy Cross dating back to 18th century, silver chest, St Tryphon’s body from 15th century, the Glorious Head – the relic of the head of St Tryphon dating back to 17th and 18th century. 

Bishop Palace: It is the residence of the bishops, located next to St Tryphon Cathedral. The building belonged to a noble family, the Dragos. According to Jelena Drago’s will the building was left to Kotor bishop Raimondo Agonti. It is not open to visit.

Drago Palace: The building used to belong to the noble family Drago. The palace’s south-western wing faces the Square of St Tryphon. There is the second wing which is accessed through a passage between the palace and the Bishop’s Palace. This palace is the one and only example of a Gothic palace in Kotor. After the 1667 earthquake the south-western wing of the palace was damaged and it was renewed in Baroque style. Currently the building is used as the Regional Institute for the protection of cultural heritage Kotor. 

Kotor Historical Archives: In short it is called IAK. It is situated opposite of the Cathedral. Historical documents are archived and stored here. The oldest document is from 1309, a sales contract. There are many notary documents of the town authorities decisions, contracts and some other legal documents in Latin and Italian.

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