Forgotten forts: the sad fate of Austro-Hungarian heritage in Montenegro
Their dilapidation did not prevent the authorities from trying to make them profitable.
In 2015, the abandoned fortress of Mamula at the entrance to the Bay of Kotor was leased to the Swiss-Egyptian company Orascom for a period of 49 years. The fort, on the island of Lastavica near the seaside resort of Herceg Novi, was built in the 19th century and used mainly as a prison during the two world wars.
Orascom has announced that it will spend 15 million euros to transform the fort of Mamula into a five-star hotel with 23 rooms, a spa, a luxury marina, a helipad, a swimming pool and a casino. Six years later, construction work is still ongoing.
In 2009, the Fortress of Arza on the Lustica Peninsula, built in 1850, was sold for 4.5 million euros to a Russian, Montenegrin and Serbian consortium, which announced the construction of a tourist complex of worth 100 million euros. Nothing helps and in February of this year an advertisement appeared for the sale of a plot of 110,000 m², including Arza with its breathtaking view of the entrance to the Bay of Kotor.
According to social media posts, the fortress is currently adorned with a mobile phone advertisement.
Instead of privatizing them, the authorities “should take responsibility for the fortresses, as well as their future protection and eventual revitalization,” said the Podgorica-based NGO KANA, which campaigns for the protection of architectural heritage in Montenegro.
“They can find allies in local communities and civil society organizations, which have already shown that they have the knowledge and the willingness to take care of this segment of heritage.”
Since the fall of the Democratic Socialist Party after three decades of uninterrupted rule, Montenegro’s new government has promised to review the fortifications.
“After decades of wastefulness, the state should take over these cultural treasures,” Finance and Social Affairs Minister Milojko Spajic told the media on August 19.