Fort of St Lawrence (Tvrdava Lovrijenac)
Our tickets for entry to the City Walls were also valid for entry to the Fort of St Lawrence, if used on the same day (100 kuna per person, about US$ 14.50).
We went around the walls in the morning, and then to the Fort later in the afternoon. Our hotel was on the same side of the cove as the Fort, outside the Pile Gate, so it wasn’t a long walk to get there, but it was a long trek up the steep hill! Part of “Game of Thrones” was filmed up at the Fort, plus in other parts of the city, so Sonya was excited (sadly, Rod and I don’t know that series!).
The Fort of St Lawrence (Tvrdava Lovrijenac) is a huge fortified peninsula with impenetrable cliffs just outside the city walls. It’s Dubrovnik’s oldest fortress, often called “Dubrovnik’s Gibraltar” and now one of the top venues for the Dubrovnik Summer Festival. It has become a famous stage for one of the world’s best plays, Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”. The Croatian leg of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series takes place from Lovrijenac too.
You get amazing views over the Old Town from the top of the fortress, as it is 121 feet above sea level and it dominates both the sea and land entrances to the city on the western side.
The fort is triangular in shape with three terraces. The walls facing the outside reach 39 feet in thickness, whereas the walls facing the inside (the actual dwelling part) are only 24 inches thick. Two drawbridges lead to the fort and and above the gate there is an inscription Non Bene Pro Toto Libertas Venditur Auro (Freedom is not to be sold for all the treasures in the world).
Lovrijenac is seeped in legends of heroic acts of guards and defenders, and caused many problems for those who attempted to capture the republic, primarily the Venetians.
The famous story/legend attached to this peninsula is how the locals resisted the Venetians. Early in the 11th century the Venetians tried to build a fort on the same spot where Fort Lovrijenac currently stands. If they had succeeded, they would have kept Dubrovnik under their power, but the people of the city beat them to it when they learned of the Venetians’ intention. When the Venetian ships arrived, full of materials for the construction of the fort, they were told to return to Venice. The “Chronicles of Ragusa” reveal how the fort was built in just three months, and since then has been constantly reconstructed.
We have to remember that in the Middle Ages the city-state of Dubrovnik (then called Ragusa) bought its independence from whoever was strongest at the time—Byzantium, Venice, Hungary, the Ottomans. It became a seafaring power in the Adriatic that rivalled Venice, and European nations were happy to have an alternative port when Venice was blockaded by the Ottomans.