Friday, 27 July 2012

Montenegro 2: East meets West.

Montenegro... Not sure how to begin. Let's start with specifics. I'm in Kotor old town eating a Cipolla pizza* in a street which could be in any mediterranean town. And yet... Not.

It's stone was provided by the quarries of Korčula so the colour is familiar from Dubrovnik. Many buildings have a Venetian flavour with some gorgeous examples of gothic window travery. This town was badly damaged by the 1667 earthquake so since then a succession of regimes have made their mark. The later ones having less Venetian delicacy and more c18th pomp.

It has obviously been very wealthy place in the past given the number of palaces built by single families between c15-19th. All of this from trade/navigation. And now wealth once again is being generated from overseas; they are actively encouraging wealthy Russians and Americans.

The relics in the cathedral were brought over from Saint Irene's, Constantinople, the ikons in the orthodox church were painted locally. There is this mix of latin and cyrillic text. This historic - and current - connection with the East I think is what gives it the air of difference.

And to continue the wall theme, they have a 5km defensive wall which has been a work in progress since the c8th. Given the vertiginous scenery behind the town, I'm in awe of these engineers/builders.

The town is beautiful. I hope that the rest of the country benefits from the business being generated here** because I can't imagine there being many fashionable boutiques in the mountainous interior.

*I have euros!!
**Also I bought a MASSIVE jar of honey off a local in the market. The bee was hanging on to it but I persuaded him that it was going to a good home.

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