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One of the things we love best about traveling is learning the history of the place and the people. So often that means learning about their religion and visiting their houses of worship. There are numerous fantastic churches in Kotor, Montenegro – and visiting them is a wonderful way to better understand the history of Kotor.
Due to its designation as an UNESCO World Heritage site, Kotor’s historic appeal of cobblestone streets, stone houses with green shutters and orange tiled roofs have been well preserved. Through the city’s conservation, visitors are able to imagine the people that inhabited the area over the many centuries.
A noticeable trait is the high number of well-maintained Orthodox and Catholic churches in Kotor Old Town – which evidence the city’s past.
Religions in Montenegro
In Montenegro, there is no state religion – and there are laws protecting citizen’s freedom of religion. The overwhelming majority of Montenegrins are Eastern Orthodox Christians.
Throughout its long history, Kotor has seen numerous rulers…and religions.
Today, Orthodox Christians far outnumber Catholics in Kotor (I’ve seen numbers in the range of 90% Orthodox to 10% Catholic), yet Saint Tryphon’s Cathedral remains a strong symbol of the city.
Locals have acknowledged the peaceful coexistence between the two religions, admitting that Orthodox Christians will attend or partake in Catholic celebrations and vice versa.
On our journeys around the world, we have visited Buddhist temples in Thailand, the historic temples of Angkor Wat, Hindu temples in the mountains of Kuala Lumpur and lakeside on Mauritius, a number of expansive Catholic churches in Lisbon and the ornately decorated Baroque Catholic churches in Lecce, Italy, but Kotor, Montenegro was the first place we visited Orthodox Churches.
The noticeable differences in the appearance of the Orthodox churches from Catholic churches included the lack of pews, the screen behind the altar, two – and sometimes three – bars on the cross and the long, narrow windows.
Churches in Kotor, Montenegro
Even though there are several churches in Kotor – within the old town and just outside of the walls – there were only a few churches that we were able to enter (which could be due to the off-season). Visit the Kotor tourist office for more information.
#1 St. Tryphon Cathedral (Kotor Cathedral)
The Kotor Cathedral of St. Tryphon dates to 1166 and is currently the seat of the Croatian Bishopric of Kotor. It also houses the relics of St. Tryphon, the city’s patron saint and protector.
Of all the churches in Kotor, the St. Tryphon Cathedral is the most stunning. It features two bell towers and a mix of architectural styles (including Romanic, Byzantium, Renaissance and Baroque).
Visitors can enter the church and museum for a small fee – or attend mass on Sunday.
#2 St. Nicholas Church Kotor
St. Nicholas is the most beautiful and important Orthodox Church in Kotor. It was built in 1909, which is practically brand new for a Kotor church! The interior is lavishly decorated and is open to the public for free.
Visitors can purchase candles from the small shop, too.
#3 St. Luke Church Kotor
The St. Luke Kotor, Montenegro church dates to 1195, but it is undetermined whether it was built as a Catholic or Orthodox Church, so it has been used as both.
In fact, inside the small church there are two altars – one is Catholic and the other is Orthodox. The church is open – and free – to visitors in the summer season (but closed in the wintertime).
#4 St. Mary’s Church, Kotor
St. Mary’s – also called Sveta Marija Koledjate, The Lady of Health and Sveta Ozana – dates to the year 1221. It was built on the previous 6th century Basilica.
#5 St. Anne’s Church, Kotor
The St. Anne Kotor Church dates to the end of the 12th century, but is believed to have been renovated and expanded in the 14th century. The church was previously dedicated to St. Martin and St. Venerada.
The most unique characteristic of the Kotor church is that it is wedged into quite a small space!
#6 St. Michael’s Church, Kotor
The St. Michael church dates to the end of the 13th century – but there is evidence that the structure was built on the site of a larger 12th century church. Since 2004, however, St. Michael’s has been used as the Kotor Lapidarium and there is a small fee to enter.
#7 St. Claire’s Church, Kotor
A hidden gem, the St. Claire Church in Kotor dates to the 18th century and is adjoined to the Franciscan Monastery. The opulent interior features a grandiose altar (made of yellow, white and pink marble) and a gorgeous wooden ceiling.
St. Claire is typically open and is always free to visit.
#8 Kotor Church of Our Lady of Remedy
Built on the hillside overlooking Kotor in 1518, the Church of Our Lady of Remedy can be seen from the Old Town and harbor, but can only be reached by a short hike.
Many believers make the climb to the Kotor church to pray for good health…while others walk up the hill for the stunning views.
Pro Tip: Get more details about the trek in our blog post: Hiking in Kotor.
#9 St. George’s Church in Kotor
Built outside the city’s fortifications on the back side of St. John’s Hill, the quaint St. George Catholic Church was built 1000 years ago. Although rather stark on the inside, the church setting is simply stunning!
Visitors can get to the secluded church via the Ladder of Kotor switchbacks or by crawling through a window on the Kotor Fortress Hike.
#10 St. Elijah Church, Bay Of Kotor
Of all our highlighted Kotor churches, St. Elijah is the furthest from the center, but worth seeking out for its location. The church dates to the 13th century (but is possibly older) and is perfectly perched on a rocky outcrop overlooking the Bay of Kotor.
Top Tips for Your Trip to Kotor, Montenegro
Kotor, Montenegro is a fascinating place to visit! With an intriguing history and scenic landscapes, most Kotor visitors will want to spend at least a few days discovering the city and more of the region (like Herceg Novi, Perast and Budva).
Find our top tips for the city in our blog post: The Best Things To Do in Kotor.
Where To Stay in Kotor, Montenegro
During our visit to Kotor, we stayed in a super Airbnb Apartment. (Not already a member of Airbnb? Use this link to create an account and save money on your first stay!) However, for those who prefer staying in traditional accommodations, there are many Kotor hotels to choose from in – or close to – the city center.
What To Pack For Kotor, Montenegro
We have just a few travel tips and packing hacks for your Montenegro trip.
Kotor is a walkable city – but most of the streets are cobblestone. Don’t forget to pack a pair of lightweight and comfortable walking shoes. On our travels, I have packed both Columbia shoes and Skechers. Kris prefers wearing these shoes by Merrell.
We’re certain you’ll be snapping tons of photos during your trip. Rather than relying on your mobile phone to capture the sights, upgrade to an actual camera for higher quality photos. We travel with a Canon Rebel (which takes amazing photos, but can be a bit clunky) and a Canon PowerShot (which takes beautiful pictures, is slim and good lightweight budget camera!).
Montenegro Guidebook & Day Pack
If exploring more of the region, be sure to have a good guidebook prior to arriving. Whether you travel with a backpack or a suitcase, you’ll also want a great day bag to organize all your daily travel essentials!
Montenegro Travel Insurance
We think travel insurance is essential! If you haven’t already obtained travel insurance for your trip to Montenegro, travel protected with World Nomads.
Remember to pack a travel planner with all of the details of your trip! Our printable travel planner contains 26 pages of trip organization worksheets!
We Want To Know: What Kotor churches have you visited? Do you have any favorite churches in Kotor, Montenegro? Give us your tips and advice in the comments below!
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