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St Tryphon Cathedral



Located in the centre of the old town of Kotor, Saint Tryphon Cathedral is built on the site of a church consecrated in 809 to hold the relics of Saint Tryphon. In 1124 Kotor’s town council approved funds to build a new cathedral and this was completed and consecrated in 1166, although it has been destroyed due to earthquakes and rebuilt on several occasions.


St Tryphon Cathedral is located in the centre of the old town of Kotor and dates back to 1166. The cathedral was built on the spot where a church built in the 9th century used to stand. In 1667 the cathedral was devastated by an earthquake causing the cathedral’s bell towers to topple and a part of the façade was destroyed.  The cathedral was rebuilt in the Renaissance and Baroque style. This work included the bell towers, although due to a lack of finance at the time, the left bell tower was never finished and it’s still two metres shorter than the right one. 

Following the earthquake of 1979, the cathedral underwent repairs and restoration to give it the appearance of its original construction of 1166. On January 13th, 2009, the Cathedral of St. Tryphon was elevated to the honorary title of Papal Basilica.

Although St Tryphon Cathedral is a catholic cathedral and the biggest church in Kotor, St Tryphon is Kotor’s patron saint and is revered by both Catholic and Orthodox faiths. 

The building’s architecture shows the southern Italian style that was influential throughout the Nemanjić Dynasty (The House of Nemanjić was the most prominent dynasty of Serbia in the Middle Ages, producing twelve Serbian monarchs who ruled between 1166 and 1371) at the time, although the original cathedral has been changed several times over the centuries, mainly due to earthquake damage. 

This cathedral is a three-aisled basilica with four-floor belfries, connected by a terrace.

On entry through the main façade central door, visitors are greeted with the main and two side naves. 


The side naves contain a number of altars running along the length of the building. 

Also displayed are a number of pictures and relics.


Remaining throughout the cathedral are a number of mosaics which have been partly destroyed.


At the far end is the main altar with its stone ciborium. 


This was added to the cathedral in 1362 and is made in the Romanesque-Gothic style from red stone from Đurići, in the Bay of Kotor. The frieze of the ciborium depicts in bas-relief, scenes from the life of Saint Tryphon. 

Behind the altar is the Golden Altarpiece with figures of Christ, the Virgin, St. John the Baptist, St. Tryphon, and sixteen other saints. It was produced by Kotor goldsmiths in the first half of the fifteenth century.

At the rear of the nave, by the entrance and leading off the side aisle is the entrance to the Treasury.


At the bottom of the treasury staircase is the stained glass showing a white dove. From this room is the staircase which leads up the 30 steps to the treasury with an altar at the top.  

At the top of the stairs is an altar which marks the beginning of the treasury.  


The treasury was built in 1652 and contains many valuable items as well as numerous relics made in Kotor from the 14th to the 17th centuries.




It also contains examples of traditional dress and weapons and numerous relics made in Kotor from the 14th to the 17th centuries - part of the Kotor goldsmith's works. Also displayed are many beautiful paintings 

In addition, it is where the relics of Saint Tryphon are kept, which were brought to Kotor at the beginning of the 9th century. They were on their way from Constantinople (today’s Istanbul) to Dubrovnik when the ship carrying them was forced to stop in Kotor due to a storm. This was taken as a sign from God that Saint Tryphon’s relics were meant to stay in Kotor. A domed church in the shape of a Greek Cross was built and consecrated in 809. In 1124 Kotor’s town council approved funds to build a new cathedral. 

The relic of the head of the saint is kept in the “Glorious Head’’ reliquary made in stages between the 13th and 17th centuries. A bone from the body of St. Tryphon is kept in the reliquary made in the shape of a casket with a slightly concave roof. Executed in wood and covered in silver, the reliquary was completed sometime between 1539 and 1551, both are held in the treasury. The saints' relics are taken in procession through the old town, on February 4th each year.

Also within the treasury is the Wooden crucifix, which was a gift from Queen Jelena Kurtnejsk, wife of King Uroš I Njemanić, King of Serbia (1221-1280), to Kotor’s St Francis monastery in 1288.


The treasury is located in the two towers which have a terrace between them that overlooks Saint Tryphon’s Square. 




              All  Photographs were taken by and are copyright of Ron Gatepain

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