Because of its geographical position, but also its beauty and incredible nature, the Boka Bay was often conquered by different empires. Ruled by many, the Boka Bay, famous as one of the most beautiful bays in the world, was always in the focus of international interests, and social and political events. The Venetian Republic, the Ottoman Empire and the Austro-Hungarian rule had the most significant impacts here. Each culture left its marks that even nowadays witness the turbulent history of this area.
These influences are visible and important, but unfortunately, not everything gets enough attention and care. That is the case with a great number of Austro-Hungarian forts around the Boka Bay, that were built to protect it from other armies. These forts are all impressive, firm and huge, some of them very well preserved and in good condition, although not valorized sufficiently.
During the Austro-Hungarian rule, the Boka Bay was organized as a unique fortified complex. On the most strategic points in front of the bay, as well as on the hills above, there were built different kinds of forts used for the defense. Some of the first constructions were built around 1830 and were used until 1914. The Austro-Hungarian monarchy ruled until the World War I, and the Boka Bay was one of their three most important cluster fortresses.
Each of these forts had a strategic position and a special significance. They were built so that they could have a fast optical communication which, in the time of no telecommunication, was very important to have. The information to the farthest point traveled only 2-3 minutes. The range of artillery was such that they could cover everything around and not a single piece of land or the sea was left uncovered.
The whole fortification system was very well organized, with a water supply and all the other necessities provided. Situated on the islands, peninsula or their capes, as well as on hills above the bay, the significance of these forts is even greater due to the inaccessibility of the terrain. Nowadays, some of them are approachable only by small and narrow hiking trails.
There were more than 100 fortifications built during this period, and those that were the most important are still the most impressive. Those citadel are: Mamula, Arza, Prevlaka-Oštro, Goražda, Grabovac, Vrmac, Trašte, Crkvice (Fort Kom and Fort Stražnik), etc. All of these forts were separated into three defensive zones. First one was Prevlaka-Mamula-Arza in front of the Bay, the second one was in the hills above the Bay and the third one on the higher points of the hills, where it was possible to control the other two zones and have a more transparent view of the whole area.
Vrmac, Goražda, Grabovac and Trašte were part of the second defensive zone and are particularly interesting because they were built under the ground, so that they were not easily visible from the air nor the land. At first sight, they don't seem particularly large, but after approaching them and entering inside, it is easy to realize how complex and important they were.
To visit these Austro-Hungarian forts around the Boka Bay, I recommend to everyone. One can meet not only our history but also incredible nature that is all around. Some citadels are easier to reach, some of them are more difficult to find, but recently I have discovered a book called ''The Austro-Hungarian Fortresses of Montenegro: A Hiker's Guide'', by Bernard Sullivan, which can help you with getting around.
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