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October 24, 2007
From journal Coastal Montenegro
November 17, 2004
This citadel, with its imposing 16th-century Kula Kampana (Kampana Tower) in the northwestern corner of the city, where the rijeku Škurda (Škurda River) flows into the bay, is a key part of the city’s defences and has undergone many changes right up to the 19th century, playing a crucial role in the defeat of Turkish pirate Hayrud’din Barbosa, whose unsuccessful three-day siege of the city in 1539 is commemorated on an inscription above the nearby Sjeverna Vrata (North Gate), constructed in 1540. On the opposite side of town are the three doors of Južna Vrata (South Gate), constructed in the 18th, 13th and 16th centuries, respectively, to provide access to uzvora Gurdić (Gurdić Spring), as well as a fascinating look at various stages of the walls development.
The main entrance to the city today is the Morska Vrata (Sea Gate), which, until construction of the main road out front in the 19th century, only gave access to Marina (the old port). The date of 21st November 1944, above the gate, commemorates the liberation of the city by partisans. The quote from Josip Tito, which reads "we do not need other people’s things, and we do not give our own" seems a little ironic for this former trading city, while the Democratic Federative Yugoslavia coat-of-arms above is perhaps a little outdated. The gate leads into the Trg od Oružja (Arms Square), named after the 15th-century armoury from where local Dominican nun Blessed Osanna rallied the citizens in defence of the city against Barborosa’s attack.
Next to the Palata Grubonja (Grubonja Palace) on Trg od Drva (Timber Square) is a small baroque archway, decorated with the winged lion of St Mark, that denotes the foot of the 1350-step stone staircase that leads to Tvrđava sv Ivan (St John Fort). The current appearance of this ancient fort dates from the 16th and 17th centuries, when the Venetian overlords sought to refortify the city against Turkish attack. On the way up the hill, you pass many bastions named after provosts of that time, as well as Mala tvrđa (Little Fort), with its15th-century Kula Kontarini (Contarini Tower) and the 16th-century Crkva Gospe od Zdravlja (Our Lady of Health Church), both of which offer fantastic views of the old town. The crumbling Kastel Kotor (Kotor Castle), on the summit of the hill, is actually too high to offer good views of the city but instead offers a magnificent vista over the awe-inspiring Bay of Kotor itself.
There is a small fee for entrance to the fort, but if you go in the late afternoon, the ticket seller will have gone home, and your climb will be rewarded with a stunning sunset.
From journal Kotor: Montenegro's City by the Bay