The Kotor City walls are more than 4km in length and reach a height of 260m. It offers some of the best vantage points of the bay of Kotor. An old world collection of gates and fortifications, churches and fortresses.
My brother and I, had held off the climb for a couple of days, but today the expected grey billowing clouds that often broken into a shower, instead gave way to much wanted sunshine. We had our breakfast quickly, wary that the weather might change it’s mind. Got geared up and started roundabouts 10.30am.
Entrance to the 9th century city walls start from the back of Kotor’s old town. Getting to the North gate took us through the backyards of Montenegrin homes. The smell of food wafting from a kitchen, children in school uniforms running past us, laundry flapping in the winds, hung overhead, across the cobble-stoned alley streets.
We came prepared with proper footwear, ditching our lazy flip flops for hiking boots. Even though the walls were paved with steps, we were told that in some places the steps have given way to rubble. Having climbed higher ascends before we assumed that this was going to be a relatively easy climb and we soon realized how wrong that assumption was.
There was a path that ran adjacent to the stairs and both path and steps took turns to crumble in on itself. Though more annoying than difficult, the shifting rubble stones tripped us more often than we liked.
Church of Our Lady of Remedy
It took us about 25mins to reach the Church of Our lady of Remedy, 100m above sea level. Already we had a awesome view of Kotor’s old town. A short break here before pushing off again.
The Fortress of John
It took us another 35mins and a total of 1350 steps to reach the fortifications at the top of the wall. Named after the mountain, the fortress goes by a few names, The fortress of Saint John, Sveti Ivan or Saint Ivan. It was built above Kotor during Illyrian times before the Romans or Greeks and in the 15th century the Venetians updated the defenses.
Through a stooped archway we noticed a path meandering off behind the mountain. There was a trail marking (a red circle with a line) painted beside it so we decided to explore. The path took us along a river that cut a valley between two mountains. On the opposite bank were some mountain houses. We saw a man chopping wood and we yelled across and waved. He pointed further up the path and we decided to follow his lead. We ended up at a church, which we discovered was the church of St George, built 1000 years ago.
Backtracking to the fortifications to look for a vantage point of Kotor Bay, we made our way through the fortress and climbed atop a roof to get some sun. That was the first time we felt the sun on our skin in two days. And.it.was.glorious.
With the whole of Kotor Bay sprawled out at our feet we set on the edge, observing a cruise ship maneuvering to dock, soon tourist from the ship would swamp the old town, perhaps even the walls. We decided to worry about that eventuality later and promptly took a nap on the infamous Montenegrin mountainside.
Later we took the path down from the south side of the wall. All in all it took us 3 hours (including exploration and nap) to traverse Kotor’s city wall!