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St John fortress – the mesmerising viewpoint of the Bay

and mountains. Is that is so, Montenegro gives plenty of opportunities, not only hikers but any visitor thirsty of new adventures and knowledge to replenish his life, and add a memorable as well as his summer vacation.

One of the main reasons why hikers are eager to conquer Montenegrin mountains are hidden gems of architecture, historically and culturally important points that our ancestors left as remnants of their lives and distant, hart times, as our patrimony to be guided and cherished.

Although we have spoken about the old city of Kotor when we deliberately gave a little information about the most valuable and admired seesights of this town – the Saint John fortress, also known as St John fortress, due to the great influence of other Mediterranean civilisations on Montenegro – is probably one of the two most beautiful and mesmerising viewpoints in our county.

Kotor Old town

Ladder of Kotor and the archaic St John fortress defender

The Ladder of Kotor, known also as the Ladder of Cattaro is the remains of the ancient hiking trail route that connected Kotor with Njeguši village and Cetinje. For centuries this trail was the only path people used to try to reach Cetinje from Kotor. 

The path is long 6.4 km in one way, west of the Old Town, and on its end awaits the glorious viewpoint beside the fortress, surrounded by rocky and steep mountains ant two channels of the dry riverbeds.

The Ladder of Kotor doesn’t waste any time gaining in elevation, zig-zagging up into the mountains, but surprisingly, the rocky and uneven switchbacks are very easy to follow. If the experience gets a little monotonous just try to imagine the view of the untouchable and wild nature of Montenegro awaiting for you, revealing the best photos and experience of this summer.

Where do we find the St John fortress?

About 30 to 45 minutes into the climb, almost in the end of our venture, a small trail brakes of the main route, heading over to the St John fortress, but to many Mediterranean believers, it is also known as the Chapel OF St Ivan, or the St John fortress. This small fortress-like chapel of St Ivan is labelled on maps as Saint John or the Castle of San Giovanni. 

To return to Kotor, we advise you to take the trail towards the St John fortress, so you can hike down via the walls of Kotor, ending the journey exactly in the Old Town. Walking within the fortress walls is a must-have experience while in Kotor and a shady valley where the Catholic church or Chapel of St Ivan is situated it definitely worth a peek. Good to note is that when it comes to St John fortress Kotor really is a destination you have to consider when visiting Montenegro.

Kotor fortress

A small history lesson of St John fortress

If we are to discover more about this mystical and beautiful architectural wonder, the need for acknowledging more information strives as fire, so we will give you more insight into the maker of the fortress, and show you why many visitors and hikers enjoy this spot, walking the medieval walls, or gazing into the offing above the ancient Bay of Kotor.

The first city walls around Kotor were built into these steep, rocky cliffs back in the 9th century to protect the Illyrian tribes town from invaders coming from the sea. The walls were upgraded over the years by whoever ran the city at the time – everyone from the Byzantines to the Venetians, who even left the name of San Giovanni Fortress.

And who was John (Ivan) of the St John fortress?

The ruler and founder of Cetinje, the former capital of Montenegro, Prince Ivan (Ivan beg)  Crnojevic was canonised on the 12th July 2003. and it was truly a historic event that vibrated through the chain of future generations of Montenegrins. Saint Ivan Crnojevic is considered to be the founder of the modern legal state of Montenegro, today more than 500 years old decret!

We can say, without hesitation, that Saint Ivan Crnojevic is to Montenegro as George Washington is to the United States of America – and precedes him by 300 years!

What to expect within the walls of St John fortress?

The walls are very long, around 4.5 kilometres, and also wide – between two and 16 meters in different places, while the height reaches up to 20 metres in parts. There are two separate entrances, although the best one to take is the main entrance near the River Gate.

In front of the Church, you’ll find a semi-circular stone seat where you can rest and take enjoy the spectacular vistas of the Bay. The views of the fjord are forged fantastically, and the small, charming cottage of stone make a quiet idyllic spot, giving that the only noise that disturbs it are distant tinkling goat’s bells and sea waves from down below.

There, for 2 euros you can purchase your ticket and will be given a handy, descriptive brochure that will help you identify the gates, bastions, and other significant sites along the way, such as the Church of Our Lady of Health, but also the art of Catholic wall paintings that remain inside the Chapel of St John.

The stairs leading upwards

St John fortress – the most spectacular viewpoint of Kotor

Anything we can say or imagine about this place oversees our every intention or thought and nothing can damage the spectacular view from up there, especially in sunset – this is one of the best spots to watch Kotor falling into the sunset.

Once the sun sets behind the far mountains, you will have a little time to climb down to the city, because it gets dark fast in Kotor. From the St John fortress, it takes about 30 minutes to descend a series of stone engraved staircases and get to the city. Along the way, there are still plenty of great places to take photos, especially from the peak that overlooks the bell tower of the Church of Our Lady of the Health.

High above the medieval town of Kotor in Montenegro is one of the best viewpoints over the Bay of Kotor – its the city walls. In the daytime, the grey stone of St John fortress walls blends in with the greyish-green mountains behind and it, and it can be hard to set them apart when you look up at the hillside.

When the Boka Bay is calm and the sun descends, the lights reflecting in the water of the fjord below make it look like the walls form a circle, with only Montenegrin flag, pointing out and flaunting on the offing.

Whether you decide to take a walk along the shore, exploring some of the numerous beaches of the Bay or have the intention to explore the maritime life of our vast marina – by no chance, there is a way of not noticing the round, half ring cresting on the hill beside the shore. So pack your summer vigour and book the best accommodation that provides you with the unique chance to have it all on the palm of your hand.