Austro-Hungarian Fortresses around Boka Bay

The Boka bay or the so called southernmost fjord of Europe is a beautiful place where you find the
perfect mix of heritage and nature. Great mountains rise all around you while on the shore of the sea
you can find small picturesque villages whit old stone houses that seem like time has stopped around
Exploring the bay is best done while sailing or cruising on its waters but if you want do discover all
that is hidden then hiking is the best. All over the mountains surrounding the bay you have hidden
and forgotten testaments of days long past specially the period of Austro-Hungarian rule of the bay.


To protect this natural harbour (Kriegshaffen Cattaro) and the military naval might the
Austro-Hungarian built from the year 1838 till 1914 a set of fortresses, signal houses and guard
points. This whole system, made use of every natural advantage of the demanding terrain on which it
was built, and it was superbly linked by road and telecommunications.

Each of the facilities in the system had its own specific role in the defence of the Boka Bay.
Construction of the fortifications was done in segments. The first phase of the construction in the
coastal part to defend against the attack of the enemies from the sea, lasted from 1838 to 1851, and
during the second phase until 1851 to 1880, some of the most famous and beautiful fortresses of
Boka like Mamula and Arza were created, as well as the first part of the fort in Vrmac.

The third phase of construction from 1881 to 1893 placed great emphasis on the fortification in the
area around the Orijen mountains above the town of Risan, and in the fourth period from 1894 to
1905, a second line of fortresses was made at the entrance of the bay and finalised the construction
of the fort Vrmac in 1897, as well as a number of smaller fortifications around the town of Tivat.

The last, fifth phase, until the outbreak of World War I, is characterized by the construction of
additional fortifications near Tivat, and the never completely completed Fort Dvrsnik above Crkvice.


How organised and well equipped the system was tell us the numbers! Before the start of the 1st
World War, there were about 3,500 permanent fort crew in Boka, equipped with more than 200
cannons, some 100 machine guns, 46 reflectors and 6 torpedo tubes. The warehouses housed food,
medicines and all other supplies for about 36,000 soldiers and 6,700 horses.
The water supply was completely addressed by a large number of tanks in the fortifications and at
intended locations, almost all of these shuttles and tanks are still operational today!

Even today great military experts when examining the position and functionality of all the elements
of the fortifications are stunned by the expertise of the builders who designed the fortress so that
relatively small fortifications can “cover” and control a vast space.