Fort Predel


The Predel fortress, which played an important role during the wars against Napoleon, is now in ruins. The fortress stands close to the Predel mountain pass and border crossing. The minor complex consists of two fortresses, one above the retaining wall of the Predel-Log pod Mangartom road and one below it, the monument of Hermann von Hermannsdorf and fallen Croatian soldiers, and the vault. The original fort was built on a strategically important trade route used already during Roman times and during the Middle Ages. Trade between Carinthia and the Gorica and Friuli regions went this pass. In 1797 the French advanced up the Soča River towards Predel for the first time; the Kluže fort played an important role at the time. There is no data regarding any fort at Predel at the time.

The available sources reveal that the construction of the Predel fort was started in 1808, just before the Austrian Emperor France I declared war on Napoleon. The ground plan of the fort was quadrangle. A minor barrier, in the form of a quadrangle and which would connect with the upper one, was planned directly below the road. When the French arrived in 1809 the fort was poorly equipped: only the upper central fort (der Blockhaus) was completed. A detachment of the 62nd infantry regiment (Franc Jelacic) and the engineer and captain Johann Hermann von Hermannsdorf arrived in May 1809.

Prior to the arrival of the French army, the infantry regiment was replaced by a company of the Slunj frontier regiment with a smaller number of soldiers and commanded by captain Vitkovič and captain Jankovič. The French attacked the fortress from two sides. Commander Hermann would not surrender. The French burnt down the fortress and captured a part of the Austrian garrison, while the majority was killed in battle. The fortress was completely destroyed.

In 1833 a proposal was made for the construction of a new fort. The same location was chosen for a fully stone-built fortress with high ramparts and more powerful armament. Available sources show that preparations for the construction of the new fort took several years. The construction of the new and stronger fort was accelerated by the new social conditions in 1848.

Emperor Ferdinand I had a monument erected for Hermann von Hermannsdorf and the Croatians killed in the battle of May 1809; it stood near the road below the upper fortress and marked with an epigraph. In reminiscence of this battle are the tombstone bearing the date 18 May 1809 and leaning against the wall of the fortress, as well as the common grave of the fallen soldiers, which was built by the Austro-Hungarian army in 1916. The grave was renewed in 1995.

During the fifties of the 19th century the fortress was improved, especially as regards the underground communication between both fortresses. During the first days of WWI the Italians shelled the permanent Austrian fortresses at Malborheto, Rabelj, Predel and Bovec. Before the outbreak of the war the Austrians reinforced their borders and with them also the fortresses of Predel and Kluže.

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The ruins of the fortress are freely accessible.