Fortifications of Kotor – Kotor, Montenegro - Atlas Obscura

Fortifications of Kotor

These historic defenses ensured the city within would survive hundreds of years of occupations, sieges, and invasions. 


Located on the Bay of Kotor (Boka kotorska in Montenegrin), a natural fjord near the coast of the Adriatic Sea, the city of Kotor is the oldest town in Montenegro with its roots in the ancient world. Archaeologists aren’t exactly sure, but it may have been built on top of another city as far back as 700 to 400 BCE.

While the very earliest history may not be clear, the consensus is that the Greeks colonized the city starting around the 3rd century BCE. The natural steps and slopes of the hills were used as coveted protection by the ancients, but it’s also the structured walls that are striking, the majority of them are known as defensive Venetian in design and construction. The city is ancient, but the fortifications are mostly medieval.  

The list of attackers, occupiers, and invaders of Kotor is long, including (not in exact order) Illyrians, Romans, Byzantines, Venetians, Ottomans and Austrians. Even, at certain times, Russians, Serbians, British and Hungarians. And if invasions and attacks weren’t enough, there have been earthquakes to contend with – a major quake damaged the site as recently as 1979.  

Navigating the crags of the hills and walls must have proven challenging to invaders, as they tried to find their way through the jumbled warren of Kotor’s streets and walls. But they built the city this way on purpose, to keep those invaders from figuring out exactly where they were. And jutting so dramatically straight up out of the fjord, it’s easy to see why everyone wanted a piece of it. 

Know Before You Go

There are three gates into the Old Town to choose from

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