Nearing the coast on the way to Budva, Montenegro, the Kosmač fortress (Kosmatch) suddenly appears high on the left side. Though it is not the most imposing of structures, its location is a huge draw. Suspended on a mountain with valleys giving way provide a prominent position for this 170 year-old Austrian beach fortress. It seems to be calling out for visitors to come and consider its story–come and see the Montengero coastline and mountains from its vantage point.
The fortress sits on a prominent spot on an old Austrian road that runs from Ulcinj all the way up to Herceg Novi. Many refer to this as the ocean road. In many places normal and off-road vehicles still use it. In the other places mountain bikers and hikers can meander along. For this escapade, the area is accessible by an adventurous vehicle ride with some tight passes or hiking by foot on a switchback trail. Either way, the effort is well worth it. From the road, the hike is 1.4 kilometers and takes about 30 minutes.
The Austrian architecture is evident inside and out. Though much less ornate than the norm in Vienna, there are still lots of rounded edges. When working with stone, those are a bit more complex than more square blocks and corners.
The contours are visible in the walkways with thick arches high overhead.
Looking up through the roof and into the sky, the decay of the fortress structure is visible. While the overall structure is intact, Kosmać is not fairing as well as some of the older fortresses in the area like St. John’s fortress in Kotor or the Zabljak Crnojevića fortress outside of Podgorica.
The fortress was a multi-story structure. There were at least two full stories with a buried or partial basement. One area of the basement appears to have been a water storage area.
Kosmač was built as a beach fortress to have a lookout over the mid-point of the modern-day Montenegro coastline. Built in the 1840’s it was to protect the southernmost tip of the Austrian empire. The view out the back of the fortress window showed mountains.
Looking toward the front of the fortress, was the Gulf of Venice which today is the Adriatic Sea.
A very short walk from the structure brings you to the ledge where the Adriatic is broadly visible.
Budva lies below on the coast to the right of the fortress.
A bit further removed to the left is the famous St. Stefan island. Hiking trails go all over this area including a reasonably well-marked trail down to this historic, private island.
If you are only going to make the trip to look at one fortress in your life, Kosmač may not be the best choice. If you are going for the view of the coastline also, then this beach fortress is hard to beat. This also is a fairly easy hike and the beginning of some longer routes if you choose to work your way out to explore more of the old ocean road and the surrounding area. It would make for some great friend or family day-trip outings from Budva, Tivat, Cetinje or Petrovac.