Hiking Kotor was one of our favorite memories on our Mediterranean cruise. We found ourselves in the incredible city of Kotor, gazing out at an unforgettable sight hoping it would be forever deposited into our memory bank.
The hike up to the Castle of St. John’s, also known as Sveti Ivan’s Fortress, is a bit of a challenge but provides the best views of Kotor and its surrounding bay. The hike is easily a must-do when visiting the city, but only for the physically fit. The terrain is rocky and steep with about 1,400 steps leading you to the crown of the 820-foot-high peak.
The fortress itself is only one part of the intricate fortification system that dates back to medieval times, starting in the 15th century when the then-independent nation succumbed to Venetian rule. The stone walls lace the mountainside along with remnants of towers and other defense strongholds that once provided protection for the city and its residents.
Hiking Kotor – Climb Along the Walls
We jumped off the cruise ship as early as we could to get an early start to avoid the blistering heat and bustling crowds. We walked directly to the back of Old Town, trying not to get sidetracked by the captivating walled city. The entrance is just a few steps away from town and occupied homes along the base of the mountain.
Halfway up, the first remanence of significance we encountered is the Church of Our Lady of Health, built in the mid-15th century by survivors of the plague.
The church symbolized hope and gratitude for the lives spared during the dark times of illness. The area provides a spot to rest and take in the sweeping views of the bay.
Some of our group turned around at this point, happy to have made it that far. You may be tempted to quit here. Don’t! I suggest pushing yourself to go further. The stunning landscape from the top is well worth the sweat and labor.
As we continued zigzagging along on the switchbacks, climbing higher and higher, the huffing and puffing became louder and louder.
It isn’t as bad as I had imagined it, but it was definitely a workout! Once we reached the fort, we could see the final section of the path that leads to the castle. So close yet so far.
“In spring or autumn, the most beautiful seasons throughout Montenegro, the city (Kotor) is held spellbound while the sun slips minute by minute down the jagged face of rock, bathing granite and marble in a honeyed glow.”
We arrived at the hollowed out shell of the fortress and were greeted with breathtaking panoramic views. The now battered stone walls took over 1,000 years to build and in that moment I was so appreciative to have experienced the beauty they bestowed upon us.
We were in awe of the spectacular landscape laid out before us.
We made it!
Hiking Information and Tips
Tell us: Have you ever been to Kotor? Did you conquer the hike?
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