NewsReconstruction of Španjola fortress in Herceg Novi: A creative hub on the...

Reconstruction of Španjola fortress in Herceg Novi: A creative hub on the horizon

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The reconstruction of Španjola Fortress in Herceg Novi is set to transform it into a vibrant cultural hub, featuring galleries, exhibitions, accommodations for local and international artists, a summer stage, an art studio, and offices. The restoration project is estimated to cost around four million euros.

According to officials from the Ministry of Culture and Media (MKM), led by Tamara Vujović, the first phase of construction is scheduled to commence in autumn 2024, with the transformation into a creative center expected by early 2027. The fortress, situated atop a hill overlooking the city center of Herceg Novi, is one of the oldest fortresses in the Bay of Kotor and is registered as a cultural monument of category II. Originally built by the Turks and later expanded by the Spaniards, Španjola served as a crucial part of the city’s defense system.

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A portion of the reconstruction, amounting to 1.5 million euros, will be funded by the European Union under the South Adriatic program, in which Montenegro participates alongside Italy and Albania. The MKM is the project leader for “Sa creativity,” collaborating with the National Tourist Organization and regions of Puglia, Molise, and the Albanian Ministry of Tourism.

The total estimated cost for the restoration is around four million euros, with approximately 1.5 million euros expected to be drawn from the EU program, while the remaining funds will be secured from other sources, including the state budget.

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The reconstruction will be carried out in two phases, with the tender for the first phase expected to be announced between April and June of this year. The project is slated for completion by the end of 2027, with the fortress anticipated to be fully operational by early that year. Pending all necessary conditions, construction is expected to commence in the autumn.

The MKM aims not only to invest in infrastructure, renovation, and outfitting but also to foster a community of creative individuals and organizations who will utilize the established creative hub. Following the reconstruction, the fortress will offer residency opportunities for artists and creative entrepreneurs, fostering the development of various artistic disciplines, including multimedia arts, applied sculpture, graphics, photography, and painting.

Španjola is envisioned to become a prominent creative center with regional and European visibility, with efforts directed towards promoting the fortress and cultural tourism. Collaboration with the Municipality of Herceg Novi is integral to the project, with a memorandum of cooperation signed between Minister Vujović and Herceg Novi’s Mayor, Stevan Katić, last week. The municipality and MKM will collaborate across all project phases to facilitate the reconstruction, outfitting, and functioning of the fortress.

Environmental considerations are also paramount, with the project adhering to approved project documentation and receiving consent from the Cultural Heritage Protection Administration. The fortress, once a prison, has fallen into disrepair since the early 20th century and has been subject to minimal interventions since then. Surrounding areas have been affected by unplanned construction, exacerbating the fortress’s deterioration.

The revitalized fortress will feature exhibition spaces, presentation areas, accommodation units, office space, and a communal garden with a summer stage. Efforts will be made to preserve the historical integrity of the site, with no concrete usage during restoration, and removable installations. Additionally, environmental impact will be minimized, with no significant machinery and minimal disturbance to the local vegetation.

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