Fortifications of Kotor

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During centuries, Kotor was used as theater with many battles and thus had to be defended by means of fortifications, which are probably the most important monument of the city because they curve around the city, on the mountainside.

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Ramparts of Kotor
The system of fortifications of Kotor was built as of the Byzantine time, as from the 9th century, and was constantly reinforced until the 19th century, but mainly during the time of the Venetian domination with 16th and 17th centuries. These fortifications surrounding the medieval Old city largely contributed to protect the city from the attacks Turkish.

Although the Closed City is of a reduced surface, the imposing enclosing walls which surround it have a perimeter external of 4.5 kilometers; indeed, these walls rise to the Midsummer’s Day fortress located at an altitude of 260 meters above the city. The ramparts have a 15 meters height, reaching 20 meters in height by places, and a thickness from 2 to 16 meters.

The ramparts are reinforced by bastions: most notable are the Campana Tower and the Citadel (of 13th and 14th centuries) close to the place where the Škurda river is thrown in the gulf of Kotor. Very close to the Citadel the Door of the Sea is giving access to bay. The Bembo bastion, which protects the Door from the River, was transformed into open-air theater.

It is possible to go up on foot until the high part of the ramparts, and to enjoy a splendid sight on the roofs of the city and bay.

Before reaching the Midsummer’s Day fortress, one passes thus in front of various bastions, turns, forts and stations; one Extremely meets initially the Station Saint-Marc (Položaj Sveti Marko) of the 18th century, called “the Small one”, then two smaller stations: the Station Soranco (Položaj Soranco) and the Station To disavow (Položaj Renijer).

Inside the ramparts exists a communication system as well as other buildings, like the church Our-Lady-of-Safety.

The ramparts, recently restored, contribute largely to the beauty of Kotor.

Plan of the fortifications of Kotor. Click to enlarge the image.Fortifications of Kotor. Click to enlarge the image in Fotolia (new tab).
Fortifications of Kotor. Click to enlarge the image in Fotolia (new tab).Fortifications of Kotor. Click to enlarge the image in Fotolia (new tab).Fortifications of Kotor. Click to enlarge the image in Fotolia (new tab).
The fortress Midsummer’s Day (Kastel Sveti Ivan)
Starting from the Bembo bastion, in north, and Gurdić bastion, in the south, the ramparts go up inside the grounds towards the top of the Midsummer’s Day Mount when the fortress Midsummer’s Day is built (Kastel Sveti Ivan into Serb, Bastione di San Giovanni in Italian) which defends the back of the Closed City of Kotor. The fortress was abandoned in 1918.

The Midsummer’s Day fortress dominates is bay of Kotor, the system of fortifications and the Closed City of almost 260 m in height. Today in ruins, it is accessible by an interminable succession from irregular stairs (moving all 1,426).

Beyond the hill which carries the fortress, a campaign mountainous and uninhabitable goes up higher towards the Lovćen mountain.

The sight offered from the top of its walls is splendid, with, on a side, the mouths of Kotor and, other, the solid mass of Lovćen.

Staircase towards the Midsummer's Day bastion. Click to enlarge the image in Fotolia (new tab).Fortifications of Kotor. Click to enlarge the image.Fortifications of Kotor. Click to enlarge the image.
The Closed City of Kotor is closed by three large massive doors (12th-16th centuries). Two other doors existed, one, today walled, located at the south of the Door of the Sea, the other, the Spiljarskia Door, opened in the ramparts with hillside towards the old road of Cetinje.
The Door of the Sea (Vrata od Mora)
Citadel of Kotor. Click to enlarge the image in Fotolia (new tab).The Door Navy (Morska Vrata), or Carries West, is the principal door, built in massive blocks of stone.

The Door of the Sea was built at the 16th century (1555), at the time it Venetian Providur Bernardo Renier, in Renaissance styles and baroque, as testifies the pillar and the arch to it carried out in Bunjato technique.

The Door of the Sea has an arched passage; on the right side of the passage, the door is decorated of a Gothic low-relief of the 15th century representing the Virgin with the Child-Jesus; left side, holy Tryphon holding a model of the city and holy Bernard holding the “hostia”.

The Door of the River
The Door of the River, or Carries North (Sjeverna Vrata), is located in the northern corner of the Old city of Kotor, close to the Sainte-Marie church. It opens on a bridge which crosses the Škurda river-channel.

The Door of North was built starting from 1540, in Renaissance style, commemoration of the victory over the famous Turkish admiral Barberousse Hayreddin in 1539. An inscription above the door recalls that Barberousse besieged the city with 70 ships and 30,000 soldiers, without succeeding in taking it.

On the left of the door while leaving the city, one can see the Bembo bastion, going back to 1540; on the right, the Riva bastion, going back to 1516.

The Door of Gurdić
The Door of Gurdić, or Carries South (Južna Vrata), is the oldest door of Kotor: it dates from the 13th century, but has several times transformed during centuries.

The door is defended by the bastion Gurdić (Italian Gordicchio) which was added to reinforce defenses of the door in 1470.

It is separated from the road by a drawbridge thrown above a ditch where the underground river of Gurdić emerges. The days of storm, the fresh water of the source emerges out of the cave and pushes back sea water far from the walls. The days of summer, the decreasing flow, the source disappears in the cave, and the sea water reaches the Gurdić door again.

The station Saint-François (Položaj Sveti Franjo) is just behind the Door and the Gurdić bastion; further, one meets the station Saint-Etienne (Položaj Sveti Stjepan).

Carry south. Click to enlarge the image in Fotolia (new tab).Fortifications of Kotor. Click to enlarge the image in Fotolia (new tab).

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Fortifications of Kotor
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