Kotor fortifications

Kotor fortificationsKotor fortifications
The 4.5 kilometres of ramparts and walls surrounding the city and creeping up Sv. Ivana hill are Kotor's landmark feature. A fortress has crowned the hill since Illyrian and Byzantine times, but the massive defence system you see now was first planned in the 13th century, and was added to by the by the Venetians and Austrians. It remained in use, on and off, until the end of the Second World War. The walls are 20m high and 16m thick in some places.
The lower town is surrounded by a partly restored wall with Venetian-era and older towers, and bastions named Gurdic, Korner, Valijer, Citadela (now a café), Bembo (a theatre) and Riva. Three gates give access to the old town, the main Sea Gate from 1555 (then accessing directly to the quay), the northern gate from 1540 with a bridge across the Skurda river, and the 17th-19th century southern gate with a bridge across the Gurdic river.
Above Kotor, the city walls zigzag to the ruined hilltop Sv. Ivana fortress, 260m above sea level. Two steep staircases (one near Sv. Marija, the other close to the cathedral) make their way up the hill, past the Lady of Salvation church (Crkva Gospe od Spasa), halfway up.
The fortress can be visited, though it's best to avoid the hottest hours of the day. Bring plenty of water and mind your step - the fortress is in a pretty bad shape despite renovations. The fantastic views from the top over the bay and the gorge directly behind the fortress are worth the struggle up.

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