Kotor’s City Walls Only 1350 Steps To The Top

Kotor's City Walls

Kotor’s City Walls – only 1350 steps to the fort that overlooks the Bay of Kotor.  Sounded easy! On arrival into Kotor Montenegro by bus a few days prior, the imposing wall, church and fort towered over the city and the Bay of Kotor.  We knew that we would climb it, 1200 metres and 1350 steps would not deter us.

Maybe the crowds would, but if we started when the gate opened at 8 am in the morning, hopefully, we would beat them and also beat the high temperatures at that time of the year. You don’t need to hire a local Kotor guide to climb to the top.

Montenegro was always on our mind to visit but when Lonely Planet announced that Montenegro was one of its top destinations in 2016 we just had to visit it.

But first some reading needed to be done so that we could make the most of our 2 weeks.

 

Where is Montenegro

Montenegro is part of the Balkans and is one of the oldest European states.  Montenegro has over 290km of coastline and is classified as part of southern Europe and the Mediterranean.  Montenegro borders the countries of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Albania and the Adriatic Sea.

Editor updated 2019

Montenegro Map

Kotor's City Walls

Courtesy of Google Maps

 

Kotor Map

Kotor's City Walls

Map courtesy of Google

The Climb to Kotor’s City Walls and Fortress

Starting at the North Gate in Kotor Old Town (which dates from 1540) at 8.15 am we paid our entrance fee of 3 euros per person and started the long ascent. It is always wise not to count the steps, I tend to do that, but chatting and stopping for the many photographic opportunities took my mind off it. Anyway, it was 520 steps to the small church on the hill of St John – Our Lady of the Health. (no I did not count them, promotional material gave me the information)

Our Lady of the Health Church Kotor

Kotor's City Walls

Entrance to Our Lady of the Health Church

Our Lady of the Health Church was constructed as a votive church during the 15th century in baroque style but with a gothic arch.  The Church tower with 3 bells was an added addition during the 18th century, the bells are famous, they were made in the bell foundry De Poli in Vittorio Veneto (Italy).

Kotor's City Walls

The Altar Inside Our Lady of the Health Church

The crypt inside the small church relates to the Kotor family – Bolic. In the front of the church lies the tomb of Count Anton Lukovic, a citizen of Kotor.

Kotor's City Walls

The Bell Tower

Kotor experienced the effects of the plague during 1435 where it wiped out most of the town including the Canons of the church.  Fears abounded that the powerful walls and the soldiers were not enough to protect the town, they needed God’s protection as well – our Lady of the Health Church was constructed to provide God’s protection over the city and its peoples.

At this point of the climb, you can stop and sit down on the concrete benches and enjoy the view of Kotor Bay glistening below. Believe me, take the time to rest at this point, you are only a little over one-third of the way there.

The walls date back to medieval times and were gradually built over quite a lengthy period between the 9th and 19th century.  The walls form an arch over the sheer cliffs of the Hill of St John and are 4.5 kilometres in length, the breadth ranges from 2 and 16 metres and the height varies up to 20 metres in certain sections. At night it is a spectacular sight, at intervals, there are lights creating a magical archway around the mountain.

Castle of St John

Kotor's City Walls

Climbing the Stairs to the Fort

1200 metres later you reach the Castle of St John (260 metres above sea level). The Castle is a crumbled ruin, but you can still climb over some of the ramparts for awesome views over the Port of Kotor.  The earthquakes of  1563, 1667 and the most recent one in April 1979 caused damage to the fort.  The 1979 earthquake caused quite a lot of damage in Kotor and to the fort.  Kotor has listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List as well as the List in Danger during 1979 just after the earthquake.

Kotor's City Walls

View from the top of the Fort

Back down the stairs, we head, facing hundreds of visitors coming up.  Alongside the steps, there is a very slippery rocky pathway that we had to use many times to allow those coming up to pass by.

Kotor's City Walls

The stairs heading back down

To Travel Too Tips

  1.  Start early, the sun will be behind you as you climb up
  2.  Bring plenty of water, there is water for sale but at a price
  3.  Be prepared for the whole climb to take about 2 hours
  4.  Wear hiking shoes
  5.  Be prepared to take lots of photos


Where to Stay in Kotor 

We stayed at the Old Mariner Guest House Kotor

Kotors City Walls

Kotor Hotels

Kotors City Walls

Airbnb Kotor

Airbnb has a range of properties in Kotor.  If you are first-time bookers with Airbnb we have a special $$$ discount for you.

Kotors City Walls

Kotor Restaurants

For a list of the recommended restaurants in Kotor Click here

Things To Do in Kotor

 

You may be interested in our blog on a tour that we did with 360monte to North Montenegro.

You may like to read our post on what to do in Kotor.

You can also catch our Youtube video on Kotor and our North Montenegro Tour.

 

The Old Town Kotor is a great town to wander through, enjoy a meal or just a coffee.

Some recommended reading in preparation for your visit to Kotor in Montenegro.


 How To Get To Kotor

There are 3 airports:

Tivat 8km from Kotor
Podgorica 90km from Kotor
Dubrovnik in Croatia 73km – you can hire a taxi for approx Euros 80.  The travel time could take up to 4 hours depending on the border crossing.
There are regular buses from Dubrovnik.
Click here for flight information, prices and availability.
Car rental is available from all airports.
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16 Comments

  • Ana says:

    Great article, beautiful country! 🙂

  • Those 1350 steps sounds interesting. I dig heritage and architectural angle in my trips and it’s amazing to see that it has even made to UNESCO listing. It was a nice read.

  • Soraya says:

    The climb up 1350 steps is so worth it – look at that view from on top of the fort. Simply incredible! The 3 Euro entry is not bad and so good that you started nice and early in the morning to avoid the crowds. I agree with you – don’t count the steps. Plus when you continue chatting away and stopping along the way for photos, you don’t realise how far you’ve actually gone. And in the end it’s so worth the exercise up because it looks so beautiful! Plus to see a UNESCO protected place is wow!

  • Leah says:

    Montenegro is on my list as well! The ruins and churches all look beautiful. The Castle of St. John looks especially fascinating. Thank you for sharing about your trip- I’m saving this for the future.

  • Anda says:

    Your post and beautiful pictures from Kotor city walls reminded me about our trip to Montenegro some years ago. Climbing to the top of St.John Fortress was very tiresome, but the view from up there it’s worth every effort. The little church of Our Lady of the Health was closed when we were there however, so I’m glad I could see it in your photos.

  • Kotor is an interesting place and so is the city wall. I would not mind taking the 1350 steps up to the top to get such a great view. It is really nice to read about such spectacular places of the world.

  • Adele Gee says:

    Those are amazing views and I think even I would attempt to climb all 1350 steps just to be able to see it for myself. Kotor is on my list of places to visit – i thought via a cruise stop – but looking at your pictures i start to think that may be a little too short stop. Thanks!

  • What an immersive virtual tour of Kotor…I was literally taking one step at a time as you narrated. No, I wasn’t counting the steps either. This place deserves its place in the UNESCO Heritage list and it is wonderful to know about the Kotor family through this post. Looking forward to visiting this place in the near future 🙂

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