Situated on the border between the East and the West, exposed to numerous occupations and cultural influences, Herceg Novi was a town with developed communication and a town where various civilizations would meet and cross. This has left a deep impression on its present-day appearance. The dominant feature of its development is its permanent attempt to harmonize human creation with the natural environment, thus making it distinctive. This is the main reason that Herceg Novi is called the town of eternal vegetation and culture.
Already the first sight of the Old Town of Herceg Novi reveals a series of ramparts with high and strong stone fortress-towers. The first in the series of defensive fortifications on the coast was the Cittadella or "Macel", the fortification which was unfortunately badly damaged in the catastrophic earthquake of 1979 and collapsed into the sea. Right on the coast there is a fortress called Forte Mare. It is a unique example of architectural continuity from the Bosnian 15th century rulers to the Austrian interventions in the 19th and 20th centuries. Each stage of construction, addition, partition and overbuilding can be very clearly defined on this edifice: from the first walls built by Herceg Stefan Vukcic Kosaca in the first half of the 15th century, through to the Turks and their significant construction additions, then the Venetian Republic, which leaves its trace on this edifice, to the Austro-Hungarian empire with extensions using new techniques and for new functions. After the 1979 earthquake, the fortress was cleaned up and reconstructed to the size it used to be during the Turkish period, and with the lookfrom the Venetian period.
"Kanli Kula" (Bloody Tower), another monumental fortress in the town was built by the Turks after 1539. It was built on the site and the foundations of an earlier fortress. Today's dimensions are the work of Turkish builders and it has preserved most of the authentic architecture of that time. The interior of the fortress contains a well-preserved cistern which fell into disuse at the time it became a prison. On its walls we can still see numerous drawings of various types of galleys, images of fish, crosses, coats of arms and dates. The interior of "Kanli Kula"was restored for the first time in 1960 for the purpose of the Summer Stage, perhaps the most beautiful open-air stage on the whole Adriatic coast, with one thousand seats and an amphitheatre of rare beauty and functionality.
The "Espanola"fortress got its name from the local population who named it after the Spanish who built it during their short occupation of the town from 1538 to 1539, after they had destroyed a smallerTurkish fortification which used to be on the same site. The Turks built this monumental edifice, which is certainly their best preserved fortification on the whole Adriatic coast, from 1539 to 1548. Above the entrance to the fortress there is an inscription in Turkish testifying to the construction of the fortress. The fortress is surrounded by massive walls with four protruding circular bastions on the corners. The main entrance on the eastern side is secured by an external wall, whilst the southern side, towards the sea, was enlarged and adjusted to new fortification requirements. In the interior of the fortress there is a series of well-preserved facilities which once had various functions.
At the place where there is the western gate to the Old Town, a tower was erected in 1850 withaclockina pseudo-Romanesque style. Even during Turkish times there used to be a clock tower, after which the present-day tower is called "Sahat kula" (clock tower). During the Venetian rule, the tower was renovated and called "Tora" (tower), which is the name used by many nowadays to refer to it. Ever since the times of the Venetian rule right up until today it has been the heraldic sign of Herceg Novi. During Turkish rule the entrance gate had a wooden drawbridge over a ditch through which a stream used to flow towards the sea, which is testified to by Venetian engravings and drawings.
Among the precious fortification facilities one should certainly mention the fortress of Mamula erected right at the entrance to Boka Kotorska Bay, on Lastavica Island.The monumental fortress of circular shape 20 metres in diameter was built by the Austrian Admiral Lazar Mamula at the end of the 19th century. The interesting thing is that the fortress never served its purpose and that not a single cannonball was shot from it. Due to its isolated position it was used as prison in both world wars. It was built of coarse, finely chiselled stone blocks, set in regular horizontal rows, and the shape of the fortress follows the configuration of the island. East of Mamula, at the extreme south-western part of the Lustica Peninsula, there is the fortress tower of Arza. It lies on the foundations of an ancient fortress from which certain fragments of larger amphorae and pottery have been preserved.
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