The Fortress

13 July 2022.

Written by Matija Čaić

Those were dark times. Turkish conquests have reached its peak under the leadership of Suleiman The Magnificent. Europe was in constant fear of the merciless hordes that invaded villages and towns seeking payment in blood. Most of the Balkans were occupied and pillaged. Croatian General Nikola Šubić Zrinski was killed with most of the crew of the Hungarian town of Siget, and the walls of Vienna have already tasted the blows of Turkish cannons.


The Ottoman Empire was vast and rich, and the tide from the Bosphorus seemed unstoppable. Yet, defeat by Vienna and Sisak, the great losses at Siget and the death of Sulejman himself have slowed down her advancement. The Austrian army was modern and disciplined, and the Turks supply lines were a little too stretched.

In such a constellation of things, Austrian and German nobles have decided to stop the Ottoman invasion forever with one decisive move. This move was drawn in March 1578 in the Austrian town of Bruck on Mura, where a decision was made to build a modern fort in Croatia on which walls the tide Bosphorus would be broken.

The perfect city

As early as December of that same year, it was decided that the fortified city would be built on the confluence of Kupa and Korana. Planning and collection of funds required more than half a year and finally on July 13, 1579, thousands of workers with the associated soldiers who would defend them and the associated construction commission and the main builder Matija Gambon came to the wetland between the two rivers.

The Austrian emperor Charles II of Habsburg, the ruler of this area, has named the city by himself, the Carl’s City, in german Carlstadt or in croatian, Karlovac.
The city is designed to be built according to all the most modern defense standards of that time. His floor plan was in the shape of a six-star star with the streets intersecting at right angles to ensure delivering of weapons and ammo to the ramparts as efficiently as possible. In the center of the star there is a central square. Such star shape have only two cities in Europe, Palmanova in Italy and Novy Zamky in Slovakia.
This was the time of the Renaissance which is considered to be one of the most fertile periods of human history when, after the Dark Middle Ages, science, art and human progress come first, and these cities are considered perfect renaissance cities.


One year before the start of Karlovac construction, the Turks attacked the older castle Dubovac.

More about Dubovac: https://croatiaundiscovered.info/en/blog/dubovac-castle/

Because of his determination and skill, 77. year old Ivan Ferenberg was appointed as the first commander of Karlovac.

After laying the foundations (and heads), during August and September 1579 the fortress began to take shape as a star and all ground work was finished in November. First armament, 89 heavy rifles and 200 large and 300 small rampart rifles came from Ljubljana, and within the walls construction of buildings for the inhabitants and crew was started. Much of Dubovac’s population began to settle in a much safer Karlovac.

All these pictures are taken from www.kafotka.net. Visit to see many more of them.

The modern fort had a 6 meter deep moat with stone walls filled with water from the rivers Korana or Kupa, if needed. Above the moat were earthy ramparts. The engineers had already figured that the ground much better resisted the cannonfire from which the Turks were very well known.

On each of the six points of stars there was a bastion with cannons. Each bastion covered the area in front of that beside him, and were mutually connected to each other in order to move arms and army more efficiently depending on the direction of the enemy’s attack.

On that defence, Turks charged for the first time in 1592 and were, of course, defeated. Much like the next eight times. Last time they tried in 1672 and after that they finally learned their lesson and left the invincible fort in peace.

In recent history, once more the rivers of Karlovac have played their roles as protectors of their city, but this is the material for another story.

City of parks

Karlovac is one of the few towns whose birth date is exactly known. Today it is a modern, industrial city that is increasingly exploiting its tourist potential. It is also referred to as the city of parks because of many green areas inside it.

This is the most accurate 3D representation of Karlovac fort based on original austrian blueprints. Thanks to the author and fellow citizen Neven Cetinjanin. Visit his pages: https://www.facebook.com/Nevenius/?timeline_context_item_type=intro_card_work&timeline_context_item_source=1137278920 and https://www.facebook.com/NeveniusvonDubowatz

Background picture: Wikimedia Commons, Bearcro

Croatian Jurassic Park


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