The Lovrijenac Fortress, a captivating symbol of Dubrovnik’s resilience, stands proudly on a 37-meter high srock overlooking the sea. As one of the most impressive locations in Dubrovnik, this fortress has played a vital role in the city’s defence throughout the centuries.
Lovrijenac History: Origins and Early Years
Chronologists date the construction of Lovrijenac Fortress to somewhere between 1018 and 1038. However, the first records of the fort’s existence stem from 1301 when the council voted on the Commander of the Fort. According to legend, Venice planned to entrench its troops at the rock in front of Dubrovnik in the 11th century and build a fortress to conquer the city. However, the citizens of Dubrovnik learned of this plan and mobilized to construct a fortress on the very spot before the Venetians arrived.
Upon the arrival of the Venetian ships carrying troops and supplies, they were shocked to find that their plan had failed. The people of Dubrovnik had successfully built the fortress, effectively thwarting the Venetian invasion. This marked the beginning of the written Lovrijenac history.
Since its inception, Lovrijenac Fortress has been continuously reconstructed and upgraded. Major alterations were made in the 15th and 16th centuries when the municipal builder I. K. Zanchi of Pesaro was repairing the parapets. The fortress suffered significant damage during the earthquake of 1667, but repairs were made in the 17th century to restore its former glory.
A Stage for Shakespeare
In more recent times, Lovrijenac Fortress has been used as a stage for theatre productions, particularly during the Dubrovnik Summer Festival. The fortress’s terraces serve as an excellent backdrop for performances, with Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” becoming the symbol of the festival. This new chapter in Lovrijenac history showcases its versatility and cultural significance.
Lovrijenac Architecture: A Fortress Built to Withstand Attacks
Lovrijenac Fortress showcases a unique triangular shape that follows the contour of the rock on which it was built. Its architecture was designed with defence in mind, as seen in its layout and features. The walls facing the outside and potential enemy fire are almost 12 meters thick, providing a robust barrier against attacks. In contrast, the walls facing the city are a mere 60 centimetres thick, ensuring that the fortress could not withstand the firepower from the Bokar fortress should the need arise.
A Key Defender of Dubrovnik
Throughout its history, Lovrijenac Fortress has been of prime importance for the defense of the western part of Dubrovnik, both against attacks from land and sea. The fortress housed a 25-man garrison and a Commander of the fort, ensuring its readiness for battle at all times.
Lovrijenac Fortress features three terraces with powerful parapets, each serving a different purpose. The highest and narrowest part faces the western suburbs, while the longest wall is open towards the Bokar tower and the western wall, protecting the small but historically significant Kolorina port. The broadest terrace looks south towards the sea, providing a commanding view of the surrounding waters.
Within the fortress there is a quadrilateral court, adorned with mighty arches. The court serves as a testament to the fortress’s strength and resilience throughout its storied history.
A Symbol of Freedom and Resilience
Above the entrance to Lovrijenac Fortress, an ancient inscription reads: “NON BENE PRO TOTO LIBERTAS VENDITUR AURO,” which translates to “Freedom is not sold for all the gold in the world.” This poignant message serves as a testament to the fortress’s role in defending Dubrovnik’s freedom throughout its history. It also highlights the resilience and determination of the city’s inhabitants, who built the fortress to protect their beloved city from foreign invaders.
The Lovrijenac Fortress Today: A Living Testament to Dubrovnik’s Past
Today, Lovrijenac Fortress continues to stand proudly as a symbol of Dubrovnik’s rich history and unyielding spirit. The fortress remains a popular tourist attraction, offering breath-taking views of the city and the sea. It also continues to serve as a venue for cultural events, such as the Dubrovnik Summer Festival but also numerous private events such as weddings.
As you explore the fortress’s walls, you can’t help but feel a sense of awe and admiration for the people who built and defended this incredible structure throughout the centuries. The majestic Lovrijenac Fortress is indeed a living testament of Dubrovnik’s past, and its enduring significance ensures that its story will continue to be told for generations to come.