A glimpse of history: Fortifications of Trebinje – Part 2

Ljiljana Krejic | Live the World

November 23, 2022

If you are passionate about historical fortifications, during your visit to stunning Trebinje, the southernmost city of Bosnia & Herzegovina, you should explore its legendary bastions. Due to its position at the crossroad of civilisations, this mysterious gem boosts in historical ramparts from different époques: from the Romans, over the Middle Ages and Ottomans, to the Austro-Hungarian times. A rich fusion of cultural influences has resulted in many fortresses spread all over the area. For a glimpse of history, try to visit some of the fortifications of Trebinje, as each hill above this city hides a fort that waits to be discovered. After the Old Town Kastel and Brankovića Tower, that you should visit first because of it central location, you can continue your tour by exploring other nearby fortresses as well.

One of the biggest fortification in the Balkans - Strač

Only a couple of kilometres on the south from Brankovića Tower, one can see Strač, one of the biggest historical fortifications in the Balkans. The fortress was built between 1910-1916 by the Austro-Hungarians, on a 750-meter-high hill, to control the entrance to the Kotor Bay in neighbouring Montenegro and to protect this part of their empire. In fact, during the Austro-Hungarian rule, Trebinje was one of the most fortified cities, so it doesn’t come as a surprise that they invested almost 60 million euros in the construction of this fort only. However, the complex never got completed due to a lack of money that the monarchy experienced in 1916.

What makes Strač different from all other fortifications in the region is that a major part of it was constructed underground. Inspired by similar fortresses in Italy, it is said that the complex had 365 rooms, which were mutually interconnected. The most impressive are its iron cannon domes (55 tons heavy) with 30 cm thick walls. Once the symbols of dominance, these cupolas are nowadays the only ones still preserved in Europe. The fortress is accessible by an old road, but all efforts will be compensated by the stunning views of Trebinje, Petrovo Polje and Zupci, once when you reach the top. Considered as one of the most mysterious fortifications in the region, Strač resists the imminence of time.

A medieval trade center - Old town Mičevac

If you are looking for some older historical bastions, on the right bank of emerald-green Trebišnjica River and close to the Arslanagića Bridge settlement, you can find the remains of the Old Town Mičevac. This medieval fortification was built in the 11th century by Duke Mičeta, after whom it was named. It consisted of a fort and a town that was constructed under it. Mentioned for the first time in 1042, by a Dubrovnik Chronicler Lucarius, back then Mičevac was an important trade center, and it had a strategic role as a link between Dubrovnik and its hinterlands. Today, this Old Town is a national monument of Bosnia & Herzegovina.

The oldest fort in Bosnia & Herzegovina – Klobuk

By far older than two previous ones, the Old Town Klobuk dates back to the 9th century, which makes it the oldest fort in Bosnia & Herzegovina. Located 30 km from Trebinje, close to the border with Montenegro, this fortress has a rich history to tell. The biggest part of its existence, the fort was a part of the medieval Serbian state. Positioned on the cliff above the Sušica River, it can be reached only from one side. Many rulers were attracted by Klobuk, once an impressive medieval fort, including Napoleon and his troops. In spite of attacks, the fortification successfully resisted until the arrival of the Austro-Hungarians who destroyed it heavily in 1878. A couple of years ago, Klobuk was transformed in a movie set, when a famous movie director Emir Kusturica has chosen this location for the shooting place of his latest film “On the Milky Road”. Besides Andrićgrad in Višegrad, Kravice Waterfalls and some other locations, Klobuk was the location where an important part of the movie was shot.

Bonus: Roman Bridge Vučija

If this brief glimpse of history has triggered your wish to come and discover the fortifications in Trebinje and its surroundings, it would be a pity not to mention one more architectural wonder. Less than 10 km from Klobuk, in the direction of south, hides a Roman Bridge Vučija. It is the oldest bridge in the region of Trebinje dating back to the 13th century. By crossing the Sušica River, the bridge used to connect the old Roman road that led from Dubrovnik to Montenegro. If you observe it a bit, you will notice how its position between two steep rocks makes it fit naturally into the authentic environment.

Photo credits: Tourism organization of Trebinje

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