Saturday, 11 November 2017

A Wander Around Kotor

Thursday 19 October 2017. It's our final port of call for the Adriatic Explorer cruise before Thomson Dream returns to Corfu where we will have to leave her until another cruise. By which time she will be "Marella Dream" as the Thomson cruise brand is being renamed.

We awake during the final stage of our approach to Kotor, another ancient city with lots of medieval architecture. Today we are once again in a different country - this being Montenegro. Kotor is approached through a 28 kilometre channel, often described as a fjord, but which is actually a ria - a submerged river canyon. Just to make it even more confusing, it is known as Kotor Bay... A more zig-zagging, narrower bay would be hard to find, but it does widen out into a respectably large expanse of water just at the edge of Kotor city and the ships can dock so close that you can literally walk off the ship and cross the road to the city walls.

Whether you are one side of the walls looking out to the bay, or the other side looking into the city, Kotor is intensely beautiful. The bay itself is surrounded by high mountains and they rear up behind the city whose walls zig-zag wildly high above the rooftops, clinging to the steep mountainside.

The city walls and much of the architecture of the city are Venetian, dating from Kotor being part of the Venetian Republic from 1420 to 1797. The city fell under siege by the Ottomans twice during this time, in 1538 and 1657.

We entered the city through this gate near the far end of the bay. The weights would have facilitated the raising of a doorway - either drawbridge or a portcullis-type gateway.

The mountains see the sun before the city streets, which have to wait until it climbs a little higher before its rays can cast their glow.

This is somewhere around 10:00 - 10:15 in the morning. We didn't think we were rushing through breakfast but we appear to have been amongst the first to reach these streets at least. We had walked to the end of the bay before entering the city whereas most of our fellow passengers had entered through a nearer gate and were still exploring a different part of the city. Shops include craft shops, the usual tourist souvenirs - we bought a couple of pottery mugs with relief images of Kotor and other Montenegrin cities - and jewellery shops.

The sunshine starts to penetrate into the city, brightening and warming the place, though I did like the atmosphere of the shadows and street lamps.

The Cathedral of Saint Tryphon is one of two Roman Catholic cathedrals in Montenegro. It dates from 1196 and itself is built on the site of a former church dating from 809 CE. St Tryphon was from Phrygia (in modern Turkey) and was a farm worker noted as a healer, mainly of animals. He was martyred by beheading during the Decian Persecution around the year 250 CE. His head was (is?) kept within the cathedral.

This is a side door to the cathedral, but richly carved. The cathedral suffered much damage during an earthquake in 1979 requiring major restoration.

The Square of Arms. For many the first sight of the city after passing through one of the main entrances from outside the city wall.

Despite the small size of the city, the city walls stretch for 4.5km (3 miles) as they climb high up the mountainside. We will leave during daylight this time, but in 2010 we were here after dark and the sight of the floodlit walls stretching up the mountain were spectacular.

We pass through the walls back to the waterfront of the bay and sit for a drink in a cafe. My Coca Cola comes complete with a special plastic envelope around the bottle!

From outside the wall we can see just how imposing it is close-up. The tower wall is sloped to deflect cannon balls.

As we sail away, we take a look at the walls again. They make it that much harder for an enemy to drop in...

And that's it for this cruise. We sail back to Corfu and the following day go from a nice warm 23 degrees back to Manchester which is about 11 degrees! Brrr - I need another cruise!

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