Croatia: Dubrovnik 2012/06/05 – 2012/06/06 (Day 1)

The history of Dubrovnik:                                                                                               

Origins — Dubrovnik was originally called Ragusa and was formed in the 7th century when coastal residents took refuge there under the onslaught of barbarian invasions. Walls were quickly built to protect the new settlement.

Rise — Over the next four centuries Ragusa expanded its influence over the coast and became increasingly prosperous by trading with other Mediterranean cities. In 1205 it fell under the control of Venice but it managed to break away in 1358. By the 15th century the Republic of Ragusa was a major rival of Venice for control of the Adriatic waterways, trading with the Near East and Europe. It maintained its independence through canny diplomacy and used its wealth to expand its cultural and political influence.

Earthquake — In 1667, Dubrovnik was devastated by a major earthquake which destroyed most of its Renaissance art and architecture. Only the Sponza Palace and the Rector’s Palace survived the destruction. The city was reconstructed in the baroque style that we see today.

Fall — After the earthquake, Dubrovnik fell into decline, hastened by the emergence of other European naval powers. It was Napoleon who finally put an end to the republic in 1806 when he entered the city and announced its annexation. In 1815, the Congress of Vienna ceded Dubrovnik to Austria to whom it remained attached until 1918.

The Bombardment — In December 1991 the world watched in horror as Serbian and Montenegrin gunners trained their artillery on the beautiful, historic city of Dubrovnik. As it was without military value, the only purpose seemed to be to break the morale of the Croatian people by destroying the Adriatic’s most historic city. The shelling of 1991 lasted intermittently until June 1992 and caused substantial damage to the roofs, the marble streets and the Renaissance sculpture. Fortunately UNESCO and other international organizations rushed to the rescue. Teams of skilled workers labored throughout most of the 1990s and now the treasures of Dubrovnik are beautifully restored.

Cable Car to Mount Srđhttp://www.dubrovnikcablecar.com/

   There’s no better way to experience the awesome beauty of the Dubrovnik coast and islands than taking the cable car to Mount Srđ.

The 413-metre high Mount Srđ rises northwards from Dubrovnik, a favorite place for taking photographs.

The original cable car was built in 1969 but was destroyed in the 1991 bombing of Dubrovnik. Only in 2010 and after an investment of five million euros was the cable car line restored and put into service. The two cabins now hold 30 passengers and speed up to the top in less than four minutes.

At 405 meters above sea level, the views from the top are staggering. On a clear day you can see up to 60 km, taking in Lokrum, the Elafiti Islands and a huge sweep of the Dubrovnik coastline.

Lokrum Island

Elafiti Islands

With such a birds-eye view of potential invaders, it’s no surprise that there’s a fortress on top.

    The monumental Fort Imperial was built in this strategic place during Napoleons occupation in 1810. From the fort the French controlled Dubrovnik’s Sea and hinterlands.

A huge stone cross stands near the fort. The former cross made of well-known Brač stone -a present from the Brač-Hvar Archbishops District to Dubrovnik in 1933 – was destroyed during the Croatian War of Independence, and the new one – also a present from the Brač-Hvar Archbishops District – was erected after the war.

Walking the City Walls http://www.dubrovnik-guide.net/walls.htm

Dubrovnik City walls run uninterrupted for 1940 meters encircling the city. This complex structure, one of the most grandiose fortification monuments in Europe and an example of how fort architecture developed, consists of a series of forts, bastions, casemates, towers and detached forts.

Dubrovnik city walls today have the girth established in the 12th century and were systematically and continuously perfected over several hundred years, until 1660, when the last of the towers, the St. Stephen’s Bastion, located at the southern part of the walls, was finished. The walls stretch over 1940 meters around but the thickness varies. On the landward side, the walls are 4 to 6 meters thick and on the seaward side only 1.5 to 3 meters. The height also varies according to the configuration of the terrain; in some places it reaches 25 meters. There are three entrances to the walls include those next to St Lukes Church in the east, next to St Saviours Church at the Pile entrance to the Old City and next to the Maritime Museum located at St John’s Fort. Of the five existing forts, Minčeta, Bokar and St John were built within the city walls complex, whereas the two freestanding ones include Lovrijenac in the west and Revelin in the east.

【Fort Minčeta】                                                                                                                Located at the highest point of the city, Fort Minčeta is the most prominent point (northwestern) in the defense system toward the land. The name derives from the  Menčetić family, who owned the ground which the tower was built upon.

Minčeta is a big round fort with massive basis in the form of a covered bulwark. Its top ends with an impressive battlement, supported with stone consoles, which is more of a decorative than strategic importance.

It was built in two periods. The first, quadrangle, Tower was constructed in 1319 by Nićifor Ranjina. In 1455 it was finally decided to dive it a round form. The works were started immediately, but stopped because of the plague. In 1461 they were continued seriously according to the wooden model made by the Florence architect Michelozzo di Bartolomeo. After he had left the Dubrovnik, the works were carried on following the projects submitted by Juraj Dalmatinac. He designed and built the high narrow round tower, while the battlements are a later addition. The tower was completed in 1464 and armed with nine guns; on the top platform there was a big 64-pounder, a master-piece made by Ivan Rabljanin, the famous Dubrovnik gun-molder.

【Bokar Fort】

Bokar, a casemate fort, was built on the sea rocks according to the projects of Michelozzo in 1461. It was built as a two-story casemate fortress, standing in front of the medieval wall face protruding into space almost with its whole cylindrical volume. As one part of it lay on a separate rock, vaults were made between the rock and the land to let the seawater pass through. The Fort with its three bead moldings is very harmonious.

The tower facing Lovrijenac was erected to protect the moat and Pile Gate Bridge, the western fortified entrance of the city.

【St. John’s Fort on the Mole】                                                                                          The Fortress of St. John is a complex monumental building on the southeastern side, the most important fortification of the city harbor. On 22nd March 1346 it was decided to construct a tower from which a chain could be taken to St. Luke’s Tower on the opposite side in order to close the entrance to the harbor. After, it was modified on several occasions in the course of the 15th and 16th centuries, which can be seen in the triptych made by the painter Nikola Božidarević in the Dominican monastery.

The present appearance of the fortress (1557 A.D.) is mainly the work of the local builder Paskoje Miličević. The side toward the sea is round and lower part of the wall is inclined, while the part facing the port has flat vertical walls.

This large building, which had many gun ports for its primary function, is a cultural monument today. It houses the Maritime Museum, containing objects, paintings and documents relating to a most important activity in the history of the city. Also, the ground-floor houses the Dubrovnik Aquarium. The large Aquarium hall in the fortress is a unique ambient for visitors who can enjoy Adriatic fauna specimens in 27 basins of various sizes.

【Lovrijenac Fort】

Lovrijenac, a strong and big fort, stands on the steep high rock (37 m). This detached fortress is of prime importance for the defense of the western part of Dubrovnik, both against attack from land and threat from the sea. It’s a triangle in form with a little shortened west corner.

The fortress has a quadrilateral court with mighty arches. As the height is uneven, it has three terraces with powerful parapets, the broadest looking south towards the sea.

Today Lovrijenac is well-known as one of the Dubrovnik Summer Festival open-air venues particularly suitable for William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”

【Revelin Fortress】                                                                                                                 On the eastern part of the City, outside Ploče City Gate, the massive fortress of Revelin is located. The initial fort was built in 1462, in the period of unmistakable Ottoman empire (Turk) threat, who have conquered Constantinople in 1453 and were about to occupy nearby Bosnia (occupied in 1463).

Revelin was built as a detached fortress providing additional protection to the eastern City Gate. The name derives from rivelino (ravelin), a term in fortification architecture which refers to forts built opposite to the weakest points in the city defense system or opposite to the particular city gates with purpose of reinforcing defensive position. It has a form of an irregular quadrilateral with its Northern corner forming a sharp outward spike.               The entrance to the fortress is at its Southern side where the street leading between the two fortified gates crosses over a large platform. Both the fortress and the platform are isolated from all sides, southern side steeply descends to the sea, while the City ditch surrounds the fortress in all other directions.                                                                           The top of Revelin features a huge stone-paved terrace, the largest in Dubrovnik. The terrace is sometimes used as a stage for many events of the Dubrovnik Summer Festival that takes place in Dubrovnik each year from July 10th to August 25th. The inside of the Revelin fortress was rearranged to serve as a night club thus a large part of Dubrovnik night life scene takes place at this ancient fortress with unique ambience.

*The  views along the City Walls’ rambling:

                                              

*As you look down at the town, notice the patchwork of colors formed by the red-roofs. Some are brand-new and some are centuries-old. The shelling of 1991 left gaping holes Dubrovnik’s distinctive terra cotta roofs. Some were repaired with tiles from a factory in Slovenia, some came from Agen, France but most were produced in northern Croatia.

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