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Old Parish Church of Prcanj, Montenegro

Old Parish church of Prcanj, Bay of Kotor, Montenegro

The most beautiful church on the upper medieval path of Prcanj is the Old Parish Church. Today, the major part of the church is in ruins because it suffered tremendous devastation during the earthquake which occured in 1979. The church ensemble consists of an old cemetery, a monumental stone wall towards the sea which was laid down as a foundation of the whole complex, a unique octagonal dome, and the church building together with the residence of the parish palace, which is now completely in ruins.


This church was mentioned for the first time in the documents dated 1399 as Ecclesia Sctae Mariae de Parzana. It was reconstructed in 1672 and after that, an octagonal chapel with a dome was built in 1740. In the night of December 5 1703, a miraculous vision occurred in this church described by the process in the records of Marin Drago, a Kotor bishop, ‘vol. 24’. In 1806, Papa Pio VII issued the Breve, by which the Old Parish Church in a question of absolution was joined and levelled as being of the same importance as the church of St. Maria Maggiore in Rome. After that, Pope Pius X transferred this important privilege to the New Parish Church of Prcanj. In the past, as recorded at the holy feast of the Birth of Mary in the 19th century, this church was visited by up to 6,000 people in a day. For a long time, the residents were buried in the church cemetery, and most of them were ship captains with great achievements during their service at the sea, ship-owners and priests. The church ensemble was guarded by armed men during the periods of conquests. After the New Parish Church was built in 1909, all the precious things, relics, furniture and frescoes were moved from the Old Parish Church to the New Parish Church and consequently, the upper church in the hill had lost its religious significance.


Today, the church fascinates with its architectural composition and exceptional integration with the natural environment. The large octagonal dome and the church tower are still intact even today, despite the devastating earthquake in 1979. However, the church nave was completely destroyed, and only 4 walls are still standing but they are badly damaged. Despite this, the church still seems to be untouched and rare adventurers come to visit this masterpiece of architecture in the hill above Prcanj. The landscape of the upper medieval path of Prcanj is of great importance for the settlement and it is necessary to point out that it should be managed conscientiously in the future in order for its outstanding universal value to be maintained as an integral part of the UNESCO Natural and Culturo-Historical Region of Kotor.



Kusevic, B. (2017). Old Parish church of Prcanj. ‘‘The Archive of Landscapes”. [date].



David Rumsey Historical Map Collection | The Collection; (1693) Disegno Topografico del Canale di Cattaro, Montenegro; Coronelli, Vincenzo (1650-1718).

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