Fortress St. Ivan

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We already told you about the Old City of Kotor, but did not specifically mention the most interesting part of it - the fortress of St. John (venet. San Giovanni). The fact is that to get acquainted with this incredible place we decided to make a separate article and it is better to take the whole day (or at least half a day) to visit a fortress.

If you face the mountain, under which the Old Town of Kotor is located, and look up, you will see an amazing ancient building - an extended fortress wall, whimsically winding along the slope. This is the very fortress on the walls of which made the majority of photographs advertising Montenegro on numerous tourist leaflets. A wall over 4 km long was built, rebuilt and strengthened from the 9th to the 19th century. The viewing platform (one of the extreme points) of the fortress of St. Ivan is located at an altitude of about 280 meters above sea level! You can climb only on foot in several ways: through the Old Town of Kotor, by stone stairs or along an old mountain path outside the city. The path is rather complicated and tedious, but the time and effort spent are worth seeing with your own eyes the breathtaking panorama of the Bay of Kotor.

Defensive structures near the present Kotor appeared in the Illyrian era, but the initial construction of the fortress is associated with the Roman emperor Justinian, who in the VI century built the present fort at the top of a high mountain. Further, the fortress was repeatedly rebuilt and modified until the XIX century, however, the main form of the fortress was laid by the Venetians, who gained power over the city in 1420. With them, the fortress successfully withstood two Turkish sieges - 1538-1571 and 1657-1699. Later, the city and fortifications were owned by the French and Austrians, and right up to the First World War the bastion was actively used for its main purpose - for the defense of Kotor and its vicinity.

The fortress of St. John covers the city from the eastern side, and right behind it begins the Lovcen mountain range. Right up to the fort itself, a powerful zigzag wall rises from below, in various places having a thickness of up to 20 m. Almost 38 guns were located all along the fortification. Such firepower allowed to defend Kotor as long as possible, even from superior enemy forces - an example is the unsuccessful Turkish attempt to take the city with 300 ships.

Despite the strong damage from the earthquake in 1979, the fortress itself and the surrounding walls have been well preserved to this day. In addition to the fortress on top of the mountain there is also a small church dedicated to St. John. This place is open to visit by all tourists, the only restriction is the inaccessibility of the bastion. A narrow mountain path is lead to the fortress consisting of 1400 steps (!!!), and the ascent to the observation platform takes in average an hour and requires a lot of strength and endurance. In addition, during this hike it is desirable to put on comfortable shoes and take a supply of drinking water. But all these sacrifices will not be in vain - the fortress offers a breathtaking panoramic view of the city and surrounding mountains and the bay from the height of the "bird's flight".

Approximately halfway to the fortress there is the Church of Our Lady of Health, built in the beginning of the 16th century in gratitude for saving the city from the plague epidemic. Near it there is a site for rest, on which you can arrange a halt during a tiring climb up to the mountain.

While in Montenegro, enliven your beach leisure and be sure to visit the ancient St. John's fortress in Kotor.

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