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Discovering the Artistic Treasures of St. Tryphon’s Cathedral in Kotor

Located in the heart of the charming town of Kotor, St. Tryphon’s Cathedral is one of the most important and impressive landmarks in Montenegro. In this article, we’ll explore the history of the cathedral, its architecture, notable features, and why it’s a must-visit attraction.

History of St. Tryphon’s Cathedral

St Tryphon was a healer who suffered torture and was beheaded in Turkey during the Decian persecution in 250 A.D. Many centuries later, his relics were being transported from Constantinople to Dubrovnik for sale, but the ship was caught in a storm and was unable to complete the journey. This was interpreted as a divine sign that St Tryphon’s relics were meant to remain in Kotor, and so it came to pass that he became Kotor’s patron saint instead of Dubrovnik’s.

The arrival of St Tryphon’s relics in Kotor necessitated the construction of a new church to house them. Designed by Andrea Saracenis and his wife Maria, the church took the shape of a Greek cross with a dome and was consecrated in 809.

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St Tryphon’s Cathedral – Credit marz88

St. Tryphon Cathedral has a rich and fascinating history, dating back to the 12th century when it was built on the site of the old church. Over the centuries, the cathedral has undergone many changes and renovations, with one of the most significant being the addition of baroque bell towers in 1667 after the entire frontage was destroyed. The left tower remains unfinished to this day.

Architecture of St. Tryphon’s Cathedral

 The cathedral’s architecture is a masterpiece of the Romanesque style, with slender Corinthian columns alternating with pillars of pink stone. The interior boasts a series of vaulted roofs that are supported by these columns and pillars. The arches in the cathedral once contained Byzantine-style frescoes, but only fragments of these remain. The overall effect of the hued interior is a gentle and peaceful atmosphere.

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Inside the cathedral – Credit Nico Crisafulli

Notable Features of St. Tryphon’s Cathedral One of the most striking features of the cathedral is the gilded-silver bas-relief altar screen, which is considered Kotor’s most valuable treasure. The altar screen dates back to the 18th century and is a testament to the craftsmanship of the period. Another striking feature is the Golden Altarpiece, positioned on the wall of the apse, which depicts Christ, the Virgin, St. John the Baptist, St. Tryphon, and sixteen other saints. This masterpiece was created by Kotor’s goldsmiths during the first half of the 15th century.

Upstairs, visitors can find the Sacral Art Museum, which houses a collection of paintings, vestments, and a wooden crucifix dating back to 1288. The crucifix is a particularly spooky and haunting artifact that visitors won’t want to miss. Behind the grill in the reliquary chapel, visitors can find assorted body parts of saints, including St. Tryphon himself. St. Tryphon’s importance to both the Catholic and Orthodox churches makes him a fitting patron for the city of Kotor.

Visiting St. Tryphon’s Cathedral

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Tower of the Cathedral of St Tryphon, Credit Cyclingman

 St. Tryphon’s Cathedral is open to visitors every day of the week, with a small admission fee. Visitors should dress appropriately, with shoulders and knees covered. While visiting, it’s important to take in the beauty of the architecture, from the slender columns to the vaulted roofs. Visitors should also make sure not to miss the gilded-silver altar screen, the Sacral Art Museum, and the reliquary chapel. Photography is allowed inside the cathedral.


 St. Tryphon’s Cathedral is a must-visit attraction in Montenegro for anyone interested in history, architecture, and religious art. The cathedral’s rich history, stunning architecture, and fascinating artifacts make it an unforgettable experience. Don’t miss the chance to visit this unique and special landmark in the heart of Kotor.

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