Fortress Kanli Kula ("The Bloody Tower")

Herceg Novi
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There is a lot of historical and cultural sites, ancient monuments and other attractions in Montenegro. All of them are interesting and exciting in their own way, but really "scary" ancient structures draw tourists’ attention. What does a terrible place mean? Many facilities in Montenegro are shrouded in a terrible secret, somewhere there is a dark past, in others we feel with whole body the energy of pain and suffering, and some places are simply horrible, because of their emptiness. Fortress Kanli Kula relates to such a historic place that has bloodstains in his past. However, all this is history, and it, like everything else, has both disadvantages and advantages. About all this we will try to tell you right now.
Kanli Kula: a castle, a fortress, a theater and a prison.
Kanli-Kula: castle, fortress, theater and prison. Fortress Kanli Kula in Herceg Novi, Montenegro.
One of the most popular places in Montenegro, which annually attracts millions of tourists from around the world, is a fortress of Kanli Kula in Herceg Novi, the name of which, in Turkish, means "bloody tower".

Such "bloody" name of the fortress was not accidental, because for many years the castle was considered not only a defensive fortress... Name Kanli Kula was given by Turks, prevailed here over 400 years ago. During the reign of the Ottoman Empire, a monstrous prison settled here in which many freedom fighters of Montenegro and the opponents of Turkish occupation were tortured and killed, serving sentences, from which no one could escape.

 Lifehack: It was believed that the door to the castle opens only one way - to leave it alive was impossible.

They say that so far on the walls of the casemates many pictures can be seen, silently telling horror stories of prisoners of the castle. For example, the Turkish galleys in these images have been widely used in the XVI-XVII centuries, which suggests that the fort was used as a prison almost immediately after it was built on the conquered territory. Whether it’s true or not - we do not know, for tourists, unfortunately, only the upper part of fortification is available. All the inside of the building, including the former chamber, are closed for examining.

 Lifehack: By the way, the fortress has another name - Porta di Terra, but eventually it is all forgotten, and now it is only known as Kanli Kula.

The fortress of Kanli-Kula is on the top of a mountain in the northern part of the old town of Herceg Novi. This powerful, sufficiently high and at the same time very gloomy structure, enveloped in many mystical secrets and legends, is located at an altitude of 85 meters above sea level and rises above the entire city. Looking at it, you involuntarily begin to experience some inner fear, and the most terrible associations begin to emerge in memory: the prisoner of the chateau d’If, the man in the iron mask, the terrible steel chains...
The history of the castle Kanli-Kula.

In those days, in the territory of modern Montenegro there was no centralized power, so a well-armed and organized Ottoman Empire, which liked the local land very much, has no difficulties to conquer it. However, the Montenegrins did not want to give their homeland and constantly fought a bitter struggle with invaders. That's why the Turks built various fortifications and fortresses around the cities, to protect the already conquered territories, as well as possible prisons, where they held and punished prisoners who disagreed with their power.

The first geard of the fortress Kanli Kula appeared in historical documents of the XVII century, in the notes of the Turkish traveler Evliya Celebia, who visited the city in 1664. However, as modern archaeologists have discovered, the fortress was built much earlier - approximately in the middle of the XVI century. It is impossible to set a more precise date, so for its long history the fortification was rebuilt several times and subjected to natural and artificial destruction as a result of sieges and explosions.

After the seizure of territories around the strategically important Herceg Novi, the Turks erected powerful walls of the fort, which were to protect the city's borders (they have not been preserved to this day). The fortress with the Bloody Tower became part of the whole fortification, from which the whole district was controlled.

In the 60s of the 20th century, the Kanli Kul Fortress, as a result of large-scale works, was reconstructed and opened to visitors as an open-air museum, and its courtyard was converted into a summer amphitheater. To date, this is perhaps the largest and most original outdoor summer stage on the entire Adriatic coast. It is designed for 1000 seats, and in total the theater can accommodate up to 15 thousand spectators. It often hosts theatrical performances stylized into the Middle Ages, as the walls of the ancient fortress serve to them as excellent natural scenery, conveying the atmosphere of distant times.

In 1979, the scene was seriously damaged by a strong earthquake, but by 1988 it had been rebuilt. From time to time, concerts are held here, the famous Songchae Scala music festival and the annual Film Festival take place there.
Summer amphitheater in the fortress of Kanli Kula, Herceg Novi, Montenegro
 Lifehack: Over the long years of its existence, the fortress has been repeatedly altered and rebuilt, that significantly influenced its original appearance. For example, the gate in the southern wall of the fortress was made by the Austrians, so that you could get into the main tower in a shorter way.

And this castle, oddly enough, is very popular in the sphere of marriages. Numerous young couples simply dream of having their wedding in the walls of this castle. They are not frightened by the fact that here, once people were executed, that the walls of the structure saw a lot of human blood. It is understandable – there is such beauty around, romance and amazing views!

For its long history, the fortress was rebuilt more than once and was subjected to natural and artificial destruction from landslides, earthquakes, attacks and sieges, as a result of which its appearance was constantly changing. However, the main part of the fort remained unchanged and retained its authentic appearance to the present day.

 Lifehack: From the depths of the centuries until now, only the water storage tank, located in the western part of the fortress of Kanli Kula, has been fully preserved. There is a version that for its construction a part of the underground passage was used, having dug earlier from the fortress of Spianola to the lower town.
 Architecture of the fortress Kanli Kula.

The size of the fortress amazes the imagination of tourists, and stands out among other buildings of the city. Inside, the area of the fortress is 70x60 meters, while the thickness of its walls in some places exceeds 20 meters.
Dimensions of the fortress Kanli Kula in Herceg Novi, Montenegro
The fortress of Kanli-Kul is a monument of the fortification architecture of the Ottoman period in the history of the city of Herceg Novi. It appeared a little later than the neighboring Spanjola fortress, and it was the desire of the Turkish rulers to establish themselves firmly in this part of the Adriatic coast. Different masonry and various types of loopholes show clearly how the fortress has changed over the centuries, for example, with the advent and development of firearms. Previously, the entrance to the fortress was only on the south side - from within the old town, but today there is also a northern passage, created at a later time as a result of the analysis of part of the northern wall.
Architecture of the fortress Kanli Kula in Herceg Novi, Montenegro.
As mentioned earlier, the most important attraction of the Kanli Kula Fortress is one of the most capacious Amphitheatres of the Adriatic (up to 15 thousand people). Here they put plays related to the historical themes, which here look particularly convincing, because there is no nedd in decorations here.

It is also worth noting that tourists can admire the magnificent panorama of the city on the top of the fortress.

The architecture of the city of Herceg-Novi and the fortress differ from each other, but at the same time the fortress of Kanli-Kul organically fits and makes the city historically unique and original.
How to get to Kanli Kula Castle?
In Montenegro, you can get to the town of Herceg Novi and specifically to the fortress of Kanli Kul in several ways and quite simply.
  • Firstly, you can get there by bus or shuttle bus from almost any city in Montenegro, both from the coast (Budva, Tivat, Kotor, Bar) or from the central part (Podgorica, Niksic, Cetinje). It is worth saying that this is the most budgetary way of traveling around Montenegro, not counting of course the hitchhiking.
Look through the schedule of buses in Montenegro for every day here.
  • Secondly, you can get to the castle by a rented car. A rental company will be able to deliver your rented car immediately to the airport (Tivat or Podgorica) to your arrival or to your place of residence in Montenegro. The advantages of this method are obvious - you choose the route, the departure time, the cities to visit and the time of sightseeing and historical places during the trip.
  • Thirdly, you can take a taxi to the fortress. The only thing that can scare off is the price for the transfer. Before ordering a taxi, you can see the approximate price of the trip or a fixed transfer price (depending on the city of departure) on our website or in our free application "Guide around Montenegro/Way to Montenegro on the Google Play.
 Lifehack: Always remember about the Kamenari-Lepetani ferry, which is an alternative and short road to Herceg Novi. Its price is about 5 euros per car, but the path takes much less time (the difference is about 1 hour).

The fortress of Kanli-Kula is open and accessible for visits only during the tourist season (from May to September) every day from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm. You can see the top of the fortress for 2 euros (children under 12 years - free of charge). You can enter the fortress in two ways: through the northern gate, opened later, as a result of the Austrians dismantling of the northern wall (from the side of the road), or through the tiny and very picturesque southern gate, from the Old Town, to which a long staircase leads.

The fortress of Kanli-Kul is one of the main city attractions of Herceg Novi today. This castle in Montenegro is a wonderful place, which is definitely worth a visit, both with the family and with the company of friends. Here, literally everything is imbued with a medieval atmosphere, and history has penetrated almost every square meter. It is really worth visiting at least once, wander through the galleries of the fortress, climb to the observation deck and enjoy a fantastic panoramic view of the whole city, Bay of Kotor and the neighborhood opening from the top.
View from the fortress of Kanli-Kula in Montenegro

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