Sitting amid the grand Venetian palaces and churches of Kotor were the lowly shops where the real day-to-day business of the fortified city took place.
Medieval architects, not to be intimidated by the refinement of their noble neighbors, developed shop fronts with a simple elegance that was both practical and beautiful, blending seamlessly into their environs.
The typical three-story merchant building had a shop on the ground floor with accommodation above. But it was the unique shop door that was genius. The combination door and window, in a single frame spanned by a semicircular stone arch, made it unique.
The shopkeeper was able to close the door, then open the window to sell goods over the counter. The doors also proved to be the perfect place to socialize.
Along the coastal towns of the Adriatic the doors were known as vrata na koljeno or “door on the knee.”
These creative “knee doors” have definitely stood the test of time, retaining their charm and usefulness, while serving as a conversation hub in present day.
Although most of the knee doors we saw had an arched opening, there was the occasional “square peg” that showed up … and some had just disappeared!
We’re always on the lookout for unique architectural details, and we hit the motherlode in Kotor. We realized that we had also seen the knee doors when we visited Dubrovnik.
What about you. Have you encountered any vrata na koljeno in your travels?
Terri & James