The Big Church in a Small Town

By , 28 May 2018, 19:21 PM Travel
Bogorodičin Hram Bogorodičin Hram Kotor Art

When you take a look at Prčanj/Perzagno, the first thing you’ll notice is a church above it, standing disproportionately to the small houses around it. 

May 28, 2018 - When we think of Boka Kotorska, and we are talking about beautiful small towns on the coast, we rarely talk about Prčanj (Italian Perzagno). People are unjustly putting Perast in the first place, although on the opposite coast, below Vrmac, there is a beautiful place with beautiful architecture and countless small taverns and fish restaurants where you can eat fish caught by local fishermen. Although Prčanj, unfortunately, has not been protected from the recent construction boom as Perast, just one walk through the town will tell you that it has something to show.

Prčanj is today a small town with just over 1200 inhabitants, has a school, stone houses, and a small waterfront promenade in the centre. Among exciting palaces are the "Three Sisters" palace, the palace of the Sbutega family, whose windows are symmetrically painted - one half in green and other in white. Then the old Hotel Vrmac which once served as a hospital for the Russian white emigres.

However, in the central part of the city, on a beautiful white staircase, there is a church which size would more suit places like Venice. The church is dedicated to the birth of the Virgin Mary and is known as the Virgin Temple. By its size, this temple is the largest sacred object in Boka and is one of the largest on the Adriatic. The church is 35 meters long and 23 meters wide, with a dome at the height of 31 meters. The beginning of the construction of the Virgin Temple at the end of the 18th century coincides with the period in which Prčanj experienced a magnificent bloom. While under the rule of the Venetian Republic, Perzagno gained fame in a somewhat unusual way. By the end of the sixteenth century, the Venetian administration noticed that sailors from here were able to sail to Venice in less time than the government ships. As a result, it was then decided that the port was to be given the responsibility for the permanent mail service of the Republic. This was further established by a decree of 1625 that praises the inhabitants of the port for their conscientious and effective handling of the State mail. The decree was of tremendous significance for the town, as it freed its citizens from manual labour, a mandatory form of state service at that time. The decree officially made Perzagno a naval town, and its duties to the State were henceforth of an exclusively maritime nature. According to some sources, in this small town, which at that time had about 1,500 inhabitants, there were as many as 90 naval captains and 30 sailboats.

Construction took many years, and it began in 1789 according to the plans of Venetian architect Bernardin Macaruzzia. The shipowners from Prčanj then committed themselves to spending half of their profits for construction costs, and that they would bring free precious white stone from Korčula needed for the construction of the church.

The construction of the temple was completed only in 1909, and in the following years it was done with the details, the staircase was restored, and beautiful stained glass windows made in Innsbruck were installed in 1917. The construction lasted so long because of a breakdown that took place between 1807 and 1867.

In the treasury of the church, there are numerous artworks of famous painters, and there is also the honourable flag "Merito Navale," which Ivo Vizin received from the Austrian emperor in 1859 as the first seafarer who sailed the world under the banner of Austria.

In the surroundings of the temple, among others, you would find Petar II Petrović Njegoš, Ivo Vizin, Andrija Zmajević, Josip Juraj Štrosmajer and others

The church has a monumental baroque facade with Corinthian and Doric columns and displays a collection of paintings and sculptures worth its size, including works by Piazzetta, Tiepolo, Balestra, Meštrović and numerous other artists.

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