The fortress of St. Lawrence, better known as Fort Lovrijenac, is located west of the city walls of Dubrovnik. Dating from the 11th century, this massive medieval construction, built on a rocky hill overlooking the sea, was once used to protect the city. An interesting fact for fans, the fort is used as a setting for the series “Game of Thrones”.
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Fort Lovrijenac’s history
In the chronicles of Ragusa, we learn that Dubrovnik‘s population managed to build the fort in only 3 months in 1018. After that, they constantly improved it until the 16th century, especially after the great earthquake of 1667.
In the 11th century, the Venetians wanted to gain control over the city and started building a fort at the same place. The local people, having heard about their project and not wishing to be controlled by Venice, fought the Venetians, prevented the enemy from building it and managed to keep their fort and their independence. This romanticized version is however questioned by historians who maintain that the construction actually dates from the 14th century.
The fortress at the service of Dubrovnik
Standing more than 37 meters above the water, the fortress protected the city in two different ways. It provided a safe lookout to the sea to the south while also controlling the road to the northwest. It is also the best defense for the small (and oldest) port of the city: Kolorina.
The fortress is triangular and has three stepped terraces (the lower one on the sea side, the higher one on the land side). The walls facing the sea are very thick (from 4 to 12 meters), while those facing the land are only 60 cm thick. The fortress has two drawbridges and is now empty. The fortress is known as the ” Dubrovnik’s Gibraltar ” and its function is written on the front wall above the main entrance. The inscription reads: Non Bene Pro Toto Libertas Venditur Auro (Freedom cannot be bought even for all the treasures of the world).
The local people were so attached to freedom that they established internal protections against their own men-at-arms. The military leaders were thus replaced every month. The very thin walls on the city side allowed them to attack their own army if it rebelled. The fort of Lovrijenac was also equipped with ten large cannons for its defense, the largest of which had never been used.
There is also a small chapel (St. Vro) and an inner courtyard inside the fort. Theater performances are now regularly held in this small courtyard during the town’s summer festival (including Shakespeare’s Hamlet).
How to get to Lovrijenac
- The fortress can be reached by a small path from the Pile beach and then by a long series of stairs.
- There is a fee to visit the fortress, but the fee is reduced if you already purchased tickets for the city walls tour.
- Non-specialists may not find the fort interesting (more old stones!). However, it’s a very nice place to take pictures of the ramparts and it is less crowded than other tourist places in the city.