In Montenegro, there are quite a lot of different ancient fortresses and forts
. But all these historical places are not any medieval feudal castles - "eagle's nests", where lords lived - owners of the surrounding lands, as in Western Europe. Here they are really powerful defenses, where military garrisons stood and repulsed the constant offensive of enemy troops from all sides. And even if in some of them local aristocrats also lived, after themselves they did not leave even a hint of luxurious palace chambers and their elite residence in the fortress walls. In the territory of present Montenegro, some buildings were built to protect them from pirates (like the Fortress of the Holy Cross in Perast), some Montenegrins erected to protect themselves from invaders, and many were built by conquerors themselves to control the local population.
Since the beginning of the nineteenth century, when the Kotor lands were controlled by the Austrian Empire, the Austrians did not become an exception and began to erect here their modern and purely military fortresses for the defense of the occupied lands. Until now, many fortresses of the times of Austria-Hungary have survived in Montenegro, some of them are in good condition, some are completely looted and destroyed, and many are simply forgotten, abandoned and given to the power of nature. All these fortresses today are united only by one thing: they all have lost their former strategic purpose, are deserted and are not protected at all now. One of such places is the Vrmac fortress ("Tvrđava Vrmac").
Austrian fortress Vrmac.
The Vrmac mountain range, dividing the Kotor and Tivat bays from the Bay of Kotor, has always played an important strategic role for military control over the adjacent territories. Therefore, it is not surprising that the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which gained power over the Montenegrin lands in the XIX century, built in these places the defensive fortress Vrmac. There is a fort at the top of the mountain of the same name, near the village of Muo. Its geographical coordinates are: 42 ° 25'15 ", 18 ° 44'57 ".
The fortress of Vrmac is one of three fortresses designed to protect the Bay of Kotor from the east, in the direction towards the historical Montenegro. This complex of defensive structures-Vrmac, Gorazda, Trinity, and also several other batteries, covered in due time nearby cities from a possible assault attack, which could be landed in the bay of Przno.
The fortress Vrmac, like Gorazda, refers to the type of entrenched fortresses, which were built either in grooves, like the fort of Gorazda, or surrounded by an earthen rampart. The enemy, in order to take such a fortress, would first have to attack the rampart, and only then somehow force a deep and wide anti-personnel ditch with caponiers, metal stakes with barbed wire.
Its design embodied all the achievements of the fortification science of the time. The structure has a trapezoidal shape in plan and consists of the rear part (called "gorza") and two gun casemates, one of which is directed towards Tivat and the other towards the Bay of Kotor. The floor (facing the enemy) part is a powerful wall, and the whole structure is surrounded by a moat, along which flanking (longitudinal) fire from two side caponiers could be conducted. One more, the mountaineer caponier served to defend the entrance to the fort. Shells for long-range guns were sent from the underground arsenal with a mechanized elevator. Over the surface of the earth can be counted two floors, but much higher height of the fort was dug deep into the hill. It is this fortress of Vrmac that appears before us, seemingly unassailable.History of the fortress Vrmac.
The fortress Vrmac was built in 1894-1897 (a little later than Gorazda) in place of the old Austrian battery that existed here since 1858, served to control the Montenegrin artillery positions on Mount Lovcen and guarded the mountain serpentine from Kotor in Cetinje.
After the completion of the construction, Fort Vrmac was for a long time the most modern fortification of the Kotor naval port. Here, 182 servicemen constantly served: 5 officers and 177 representatives of lower ranks. The weapons consisted mainly of howitzers (about 12 units) and 12 gunnery guns.
At the end of the 19th century, the fort was modernized - the casemate were fortified with additional armored shields manufactured by the Skoda factory, and 360 ° armored hoods were mounted on the roof of the fortress to fire air targets (this was caused by the appearance of military aviation). At that time, the fortress seemed completely inaccessible and until the outbreak of World War I it did not participate in any military conflict.During the First World War
, the fortress Vrmac was in the center of the fighting between Austria-Hungary and Montenegro. The worst times fortress had in October 1914, when Montenegrin troops were actively bombarding Vrmac and Gorazda with artillery from Lovcen, and as a result, a warehouse with shells was blown up and the fortress was seriously damaged. On October 23, 1914, the fortress had 176 damages and was already ready to surrender, if it had not been for the additional naval forces that had arrived on time in the bay, which could neutralize the Montenegrin attack of the battery on Lovcen. Since that time, the whole forest around the fortress has been literally strewn with shell holes, but it is not visible on the fortress itself, since, most likely, the Austrians, having repulsed the Montenegrin attacks, have made the necessary repairs. In 1916, the fortress again began to function and again took defensive positions.During the Second World War
, the fortress of Vrmac was used by Italian troops to repel enemy strikes.
Some time later, when the fortress had completely disarmed and removed all the guards from it, an Orthodox priest settled here. From the fragments of stones, he made the stove in the corner, and painted the wall with icons.Lifehack: Everyone can see these icons, as well as get to know the life and device of the fort closer! The main thing is not to be afraid of creeping along dark, unknown abandoned fortresses, and take a flashlight with you.
Now the fort is abandoned, but it is frequently visited by fortress lovers, as well as everyone wishing to enjoy stunning views of the Bay of Kotor - from the height of the Vrmac hill, there are beautiful panoramas to the Old Kotor and the Fortress of St. John.How to get to the fortress Vrmac?
You can get to the fortress Vrmats on your own or rented car on quite good road from the Trinity Pass, where there is another battery. Now the road is asphalted, but it's just the top layer. But the foundation, which still does not sink or crumble, was laid in 1882!Lifehack: You can get to the fortress in another rather easy way. Take a taxi in Kotor or Tivat and ask to get you to "Tvrdavu Vrmats" (Serb fortress Vrmac). The cost of the trip will be a maximum from ten to fifteen euros according to taxi meter.
Before you order a taxi, see the approximate price of the trip or a fixed transfer price (depending on the departure city and company) on our website, or in our free Application “ Guide around Montenegro / Way to Montenegro" in the Apple Store or Google Play.
You can also go up to the fortress in another, much more interesting way - from Kotor, from the village of Muo, directly from the city police station the tourist hiking trail, built also by the Austrians even earlier, in 1860 !!!
With this mountain path, there are all the same problems as with all the local trails - while it goes through the village of Muo, it is easy to lose, because it is just a lane that branches several times. From a certain point it leaves the settlement and just dissolves. (Right picture on the photo below)Lifehack: On the way to the top, the next pointer "Planinarska staza - Vrmac" strains directly into the courtyard of the apartment house ... And it's also very Montenegrin. It turns out the path goes straight through the site, but it is not very well seen, since after the earthquake in 1979 it was partially blocked and rarely visited.
This road is now in a bad condition - here and there it is simply destroyed, sometimes filled up with crumbling stones, and sometimes even completely blocked by collapsed large pines. Once it was clearly wide and comfortable (the cart could have traveled), and now it has left a trail along which one person will pass with difficulty. Despite all this, many tourists still go to the fortress just this "wild" path, as the stunning views of the old town of Kotor and the Bay of Kotor throughout the route more than compensation for all the difficulties and inconveniences. This road is built in such a way that after an hour and a half of leisurely walking you find yourself at an altitude of about 700 meters above sea level - direct ascent would take much more time and effort, and in some cases require special climbing training.
Among other things, you can simply book a tour of the Austro-Hungarian fortresses of Montenegro, within which you will visit several fortresses at once, and an experienced guide will tell you the history of the erection of these fortifications, supplemented by many interesting facts.Walk through the fortress Vrmac and the surrounding area.
On the territory near the fort Vrmac there are many different military buildings. Previously, there was a military base, and now only the ruins of once powerful buildings. Surrounds the fortress is a pretty pine forest, and this is perhaps the only place above which is particularly well breathing.
The most interesting here is the magnificent views that open from the top of the Vrmac mountain range. It is from h the old city of Kotor, the Bay of Kotor and various settlements along the coast - Perast, Dobrota, Ljuta, etc. are perfectly visible.
And so the fortress Vrmac looks from the road:
And now let's go inside the fortress and examine all its hidden and interesting places. Unlike fortresses in Bosnia and Herzegovina, you can enter it quite calmly, without fear for your life.
The fortress Vrmac consists of 3 floors and a cistern in the lowest room. Despite the fact that the fort has not been protected for a long time, it is not so easy to get there. The iron double-leaf doors of the main entrance are locked. But! Next to them there is a kind of "entrance" through the window, with the help of which you can climb inside. Once inside the fortress, you immediately realize that inside it is still preserved, but in some places it looks much worse than outside...Lifehack: We advise you to take a flashlight and good waterproof shoes with you. First, inside there are corridors in which absolutely nothing is visible. Secondly, holes in the floor represent an excellent opportunity to fall into the secret rooms - from the first floor you can fall into the tank, and on the second floor - a huge hole in the floor, covered with rotten parts of woods. Thirdly, inside the fortress there are a lot of puddles and damp premises.
Well, let's have a walk through all the floors of the fortress.First floor
Unlike Fort Gorazda, which looks completely untouched, Vrmac during the First World War suffered greatly from Montenegrin bombardments. Inside the fortress there are casemates, in which even something has been preserved - electric locker, insulators, some channel - ventilation or for laying communications. One of the rooms on the ground floor is the toilets.
The ceilings in Vrmac are vaulted, made of bricks, which is not typical for Austrian buildings. Passages are strange, labyrinth type, the letter P, which end in dead ends. Perhaps, these are traces of the previous temporary fortress, which was here before. Of the brick also made and a tank, located even lower. On the walls of the fortress, you can see original records - "Grobari" is a Serbian football gang which autographs can be seen much in the Balkans.Lifehack: Bats live in the fortress. They will not do harm, but if you break their peace, then they begin to panic and can simply accidentally crash into you.Second floor
The second floor of the fortress is a room for guns covered with thick metal shells. Inside, there is such a cinematic atmosphere that it seems, a maniac with a chainsaw appeared in front of you.Lifehack: By the way, if you look closely, you can distinguish the inscription on the armored shell "E. Skoda Pilsen 1896" - the same inscription is present on the shells of guns in the fortress of Gorazda.
One of the rooms on the second floor is painted with icons and in the corner there are sags from many candles. They say that at one time a monk-hermit lived here, he painted walls and a metal protective shell for guns.Lifehack: Be careful, walking along the second floor, as this ambush awaits you. The ceilings are high, so it's very long to fly. This obstacle does not even need to be overcome. You can go around the third floor and go down the other stairs to the inaccessible part of the second floor.
We continue to move on. Wooden staircase with handrails leading to the third floor, still preserved in its original form!Third floor
The third floor is built with very low ceilings and you will have to go almost bent over. But the biggest challenge is a huge puddle along the entire corridor, which appears here after the rains. Here you will need dense and waterproof shoes. On the third floor you can find nests of smaller guns with rotating shells. There is also an elevator mechanism, which in ancient times served for the supply of shells.
From the third floor you can get to the roof of the fortress. Above, it is very well camouflaged with bright green moss, bushes and some flowers and if not protruding ventilation pipes, it is not immediately clear that you are on the top of a defensive structure, and not just on a mountain in the forest.
This of course is not all that can be seen in the fortress itself and in the surrounding area. But here, as they say, it is better to see once than hear a hundred times...