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Old town


On the space of irregular triangular forme on the slopes of the hill of St John, arrounded by city-walls, limited on north by the flow of short but violent river Skurda (300 meters long!) as well from west and south by the sea-shore and submarine spring Gurdic, on the alluvial bottom with the surface approximatively similar to the present, was performed the process of the formation of oldest urban core of Kotor, with its irregular plan of city streets, considerably different of typical scheme of rectangular street’s net gived by the Roman urban and building genius to the civilisation, by which the streets must to chop one other in a right angle (90 grades), forming rectangular or square »insulas« , the blocks with one-storied or poly-storied architecture.

Meanwhile, in Kotor is present the sense of irregularity and anusuality in the town-planing, which is never existing, but it is  all made »ad hoc« , by the momentaneous necessities, although Kotor even in 14th century had the regles of the building   in the urban core in its own city Statute.

In fact here there are two urban matrix  into the town: the older and the younger, but they are not folded over, everyone has not the idea of regulatory or building line in the construction of streets and squares; so by that reason there is no one regular street of same breadth, the height of floors is not equal, the squares are completely assimetric, no one right angle or absolute vertical, as it is in normal planing and projecting. But nevertheless,  on anyone open space transformed in a square there is one visual resultant of all looks   – very often one of numerous churches or palaces of the town.

stari grad

Old urban matreix, defined during the 13th and 14th centuries and specialy after the Venetian occupation in early 15th century, was almost completely destroyed by strong earthquakes in 16th century (in l537 and 1563)   and more worse in the bigest, so-called »Dubrovnik earthquake« in 1667, when were demolished about two thirds of all buildings in the town. After it, over of that inherited matrix was cast a new one, but with all older irregularities and increased wresting of whole postulates of architecture. For that reason, the urban core of Kotor now represente  an intricate     knot of narrow, winding streets and irregular squares, thrown on the urban core without any order.   Meanwhile, exactly that irregularity and insubordination to none  canons of urbanism give to Kotor an eternal sharm of unrepetition, of originality and spontaneity in origin, whose elements underline   specific colourit and pituresqueness of urban core of Kotor, as a town of which is possible to write the text-book of architecture and its application during the centuries of human existence on this space.

Other specificity of urban scheme  of Kotor inside the city-walls is the absence of the names of streets, except the traditional folks-names, or nick-names; specialy is typical the name of one street: »Let me pass!«, because it ias so narrow when two peoples cannot  to overlock. For that reason the buildings in the historic nucleus during the first cadastre in 1875 received the numbers, but not corresponding to the cadastrial parcels and all that make troubles. The squares have allways the folks nick-names   or by characteristic buildings or by products sold on those places. So the main town square near the Sea Gate (1) received the name »Square of arms«  (I) because of there existing Venetian Arsenal (96), the depot of guns, gun-powder and cannonballs.Besides of it, here are following biger squares: »Square of Flour« (II), south of the Sqare of arms, with the palaces of families Bucchia (68) and Pima (69), where are disposed the babakeries and flour-shops; the next is the »Square of St Tryphon« (III), in past times the center of spiritual and politic life , in front of the Cathedral (36).The »Square of Salad«, south of Cathedral (IV) is named because there the inhabitans of Kotor suburbs Skaljari sold the salad and other vegetables. The »Square of Bokelian Marine (V), called also the »Square of Mayor« or the »Square of Museum« is north of the Cathedral, with the palace of ancient family Grgurina (72) transformed into the Maritime Museum and the next small square with the old fountain Karampana (78). More on notrh is the »Square of St Nicolas« or »Square of St Lucas« (VI) , named by here existing churches of St Lukas (35) and St Nicolas (53). On east direction, behind the apsis of St lukas church (35) is the »Square of Milk« where the inhabitans of interior sold the milk or cheese or cream. The square near the church  of Sta Maria »of the river« not long ago was called the »Square of Wood« because here the peasants sold the fire-wood in the bales of horse-loads. Also not long ago the interior yard of the monastery   of Our Lady of Angels (58) was created as a quiet square without name, with enormous   tree of white poplar (IX)..

It would be necessary give back to all those streets and squares old traditional names, instead of actual, new-composed  administrative names as, for example: the Square of October Revolution, The Square of Liberation, the Square of Sailor’s Uprising 1918, the Square of Fraternity and Unity, or fully absurd name: the Square of Pastrovnica, by one skirmish between the partisans and occupers in the World War II.

But, by the new naming of streets and squares it is necessary to accentuate the big importance of this town in the past, the ricness of its economy and culture as well of developed communal life, because it should give the names of most important persons from the history of the same town from the times of flourishing of its mediaeval community.Beside the names of those great men: the statesmen and diplomats, the seamen and businessmen, the writers and poets, the artists and printers, it would take the names of common people: of craftsmen, fishermen  or citizens in any way important for the life of the town. So, by this manner it would be visible complete survey and section of whole politic, economic and cultural  hisdtory of the town of Kotor in the period between the 12th and 18th century, the town when in the end of 13th century started the first Grammatical School, oldest in our country, of the town where are in the course of 14th century crated the decisions of oldest Statute of the town and its district, the town in which worked the physicians and pharmacists, where created the painters, the sculptors  and poets, the town from where only 20 years after Guttemberg  arise the first Yugoslav printer … and so forth.:  .

Mr. Jovica Martinović, Hundred Jewels of Kotor

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