San Giovanni’s Castle of Kotor

A logical next destination when traveling south from Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina is Montenegro. At first, we didn’t really know what there was to see in this small country, but after hearing our fellow travelers rave about Kotor, we decided to take a bus there and see it for ourselves.

The main attraction of Kotor is actually its castle, from where you have brilliant views over the Bay of Kotor and its fjords. It takes about one hour to climb from the town to the castle, located at an altitude of 280 meters. It is a bit tricky to find the starting point of the hike, but if you just follow the other tourists you’ll eventually get there.

• Beginning of the climb.

About halfway up the mountain you can pause at the Church of Our Lady of Remedy. This Roman Catholic Church was built in 1518, and is only reachable on foot.

• Church of Our Lady of Remedy.

An hour after we started our hike, we reached the top of the mountain of St. John. It is clear why, back in the 6th century, this place was chosen as the ideal location for a fortress. The Castle of San Giovanni offers spectacular views over the bay, mountains, and city. It is clear approaching enemies would have been spotted from miles away.

• View over Kotor Bay from the Castle of San Giovanni.

From above, you also have a great view of the triangular-shaped walled city of Kotor. The red roofs, churches, and waterfront with luxury yachts made for an incredible picture. Since the Bay of Kotor is directly connected with the Adriatic Sea, every other day, a cruise ship docks in the Kotor harbor.

• Walled city of Kotor.

After heading back down, we were eager to explore the Old Town itself. Kotor consists of a few big squares, interconnected by many alleyways lined with small shops and restaurants. In short: a typical Mediterranean city.

• Main square of Kotor.

The main square of Kotor offers great views of the mountain and San Giovanni’s Castle. The Clock Tower, built in 1602, is the main attraction on this square.

• Clock Tower, and the castle, all the way up the mountain.

We continued zigzagging through the many alleyways, every now and then ending up in a different square.

• Small alleys of the Old Town.

There is quite an abundance of churches in Kotor. It seems that a square wasn’t complete unless it would have a church next to it. The small Church of Saint Luke, located on Piazza Greca, originally a Catholic church, held both a Catholic and Orthodox altar in the 17th to 19th century.

• Church of Saint Luke.

On the north side of town, you can find the Saint Nicholas Church. This Orthodox church is relatively new, as it was completed in 1900s. It is however one of the highest buildings in Kotor, with its dome towering above everything else.

• Saint Nicholas Church.

The south side of town is home to the Kotor Cathedral, or Cathedral of Saint Tryphon. This cathedral is over 850 years old, and is situated directly in front of the mountain of St. John.

• Kotor Cathedral.

Our last stop of the day was the local market located directly outside the city walls. A few stalls selling vegetables and fruits, but it was a rather small market. We were more impressed by the sheer amount of luxury yachts in the harbor. We ended up strolling along the harbor and Kotor promenade, before heading to the bus station for our next adventure.

• Promenade, just outside the city walls.

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We, Mark & Herta, are currently backpacking through Europe, and eventually planning to settle in London. Beyond that? The possibilities are endless.

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