Travel

FORT AZRA: UNCOVERING A LOCAL SECRET

Fort Azra was built between 1850 and 1853 to protect the entrance to Montenegro’s famous Bay of Kotor. Now it serves as a hidden gem known exclusively to locals of Mirišta. I hate to be the guy to expose this location to tourists, but it’s just too good to keep secret. At Fort Azra you can spend an entire day swimming, cliff jumping and exploring the fort and the surrounding area. Also, there are some amazing spots for camping if you want to spend more than just a day here. The best thing about Fort Azra is that it is completely isolated from the rest of Montenegro. When here you feel as if you have entered a magical place separated from reality. Pack a lunch, towel and speaker and get ready for an experience that you will never forget.

Fort Azra’s view of the Bay of Kotor

HOW TO GET TO FORT AZRA

The reason that Fort Azra is so isolated is because in order to get there, you must take the road less traveled. This road happens to be unpaved and an experience within itself. The fort is located on the outer most edge of the Montenegrin coastline. Technically, it is in the municipality of Herceg Novi, but you will mostly be passing through Luštica Bay to get there. To get to the fort, type Mirišta Beach, Herceg Novi into your GPS. Note that you will have to park your car before you actually reach the fort. Once parked, follow the path along the coastline for about a kilometer until you reach the fort. One thing to keep in mind, the fort has recently been bought in one of Montenegro’s largest real estate sales in history. This means that technically the fort itself is private property, but you will have no trouble entering the surrounding property.

The coastline surrounding Fort Azra

EXPLORING FORT AZRA

If you a naturally curious fan of history and adventure like myself, exploring the fort is a dream come true. As mentioned in the previous paragraph, the fort itself is private property, so doing so is illegal. If you were to hypothetically get into the fort, you would do so by climbing through the window facing south and towards the ocean. Inside you will experience what it feels like to go back in time. There’s something special about exploring a historical place such as this without all the gross aspects of being on a tour with a guide and group. A beautiful stone staircase leads you to the top of the fort where you will find an unobscured view of the Bay of Kotor. This serves as an unimaginable spot to watch the sunset at the end of the day. If you were to take place in this hypothetical situation, there is a local man who watches over the property and occasionally stops by to check things out. Speaking from experience, if he were to catch you he just kicks you out and threatens to call the police if you don’t comply. That being said, Fort Azra is isolated and the nearest police offer is at least an hour away, so there’s really nothing to worry about. Especially since you are foreigners. Just keep the noise level down when inside and don’t do anything to attract attention like, lets say, fly a drone haha ;). If you feel like the juice isn’t worth the squeeze, no worries, there is still so much more to around the fort. Just under the fort you have a cove that is the perfect spot to lay a towel down on the rocks and soak up some sun. There are also a number of small cliffs to jump into Montenegro’s famous emerald blue water and endless coastline to explore.

The cove below Fort Azra

MY EXPERIENCE AT FORT AZRA

The only reason I had the wonderful opportunity of discovering Fort Azra is because I have a friend who happens to be a local in Tivat and is familiar with the area. I went to visit him in early November for a few days and he took us on an unforgettable adventure. Even though it was November, the weather was amazing. Too cold to swim, but warm enough to crack open a beer and soak up some sun. We ended up climbing into the fort and experiencing its history first hand. After this, we headed down to the cove where I stood on the edge of a cliff for half an hour contemplating whether or not to take a dive. The water was enticing, but turned out to be too rough for a swim.

At sunset, I wanted to go back to the top of the fort to enjoy the views and get some nice drone shots. Turns out flying a drone while trespassing isn’t the best idea. Its flashing lights and buzzing propellers are pretty much a giant smoke signal screaming, “we’re here!” All things you think of after the fact haha. Just as we started heading down the stairs, things got interesting. We heard the sound of keys trying to open the gate to the entrance of the fort. Ermin and I froze for a minute and tried not to laugh as the man cursed in frustration trying to find the right key. We decided to bite the bullet and walk down despite the fact that he couldn’t get the gate open. The man turned out to be the grounds keeper and asked us in Serbian something along the lines of “wtf are you doing here?” We played dumb and acted like we only spoke English. This is a trick valuable trick I’ve picked up in my Balkan travels. Play the tourist card. It’ll get you out of some sticky situations. We climbed out the window that we came from and the man told us that he would call the police if we didn’t leave immediately. Being that it was getting dark, it was the perfect end to the day anyways. Nothing like a little adrenaline and a good laugh to send you off. If you ask me, these “hypothetical situations” aka trespassing, are almost always a good idea. The way I see it, it’s harmless and you almost never get in trouble. All in all, my experience at Fort Azra was unique in the sense that I got to explore a piece of history and experience Montenegro’s coastline like a local. I will most definitely be back for my swim. Be sure to check out the clip below for a video version of my experience at the fort.

Fort Azra in 30 seconds
Ermin heading down the fort’s staircase
Me posing at the “hypothetical” entry point of Fort Azra
The roof of Fort Azra

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