Today is my last full day in Dubrovnik. I don’t leave until mid-afternoon tomorrow, so I’ll have more to say about this city then. I’m leaving one recommended attraction for tomorrow because it’s on the far side of Dubrovnik from old town. This morning, I saw the last of the other major attractions here that I hadn’t yet seen, Fort Lovrijenac, an old fort with a storied history and a starring present.
Fort Lovrijenac perches atop a large rock just across an inlet from a portion of Dubrovnik’s old town walls.
The people of Dubrovnik (Dubrovniks? Dubrovnikians? Something else? I’ll go with Dubrovniks) built Fort Lovrijenac in the early eleventh century to defend against a Venetian invasion.
At the time, Dubrovnik wasn’t called Dubrovnik. They called it Ragusa. I read that Italians still call it Ragusa. I won’t call it that for two reasons. For one, pretty one else calls it Dubrovnik.
For another, there is a Ragusa in Sicily. I visited it on a recent trip. You know, Sicily, that big island in Italy. Why the Italians need two Ragusas, one in their country and one not, is beyond me. It’s confusing.
Back to the fort. The Dubrovniks built Fort Lovrijenac in just three months. If Toronto tried to build one today it would take a minimum of five years. And if it were a government project, the contractors would be legally bound to exceed at least three successive budget and time estimates, only to then throw up their hands and exclaim, “We’ll open it when we open it and it will cost what it costs, dammit.”
Rant over. For now.
Funny thing is, the Venetians planned to build their own fort on the same spot. But by the time they arrived with their construction materials they confronted an already finished fort.
The Dubrovniks told the Venetians to take their crap and go home. The Dubrovniks likely used different words and a different language, but apparently that was the gist.
To be honest, I don’t know why the Dubrovniks of the day were so determined to defend themselves against the Venetians. Beautiful canals. Amazing food. A deep culture. If you have to be ruled over by anyone, the Venetians don’t sound like a bad choice. Then again, I don’t know the nature of their rule back in the day. Maybe they were baddies then.
Apparently, Fort Lovrijenac has been rebuilt a number of times since its original construction. So what’s there today isn’t what was there then. Today, the large stone fort is formidable (as I imagine it always was, being a fort and all), yet pristinely clean.
And because it’s by the sea and in view of the old town walls, it provides gorgeous views of both.
Game of Thrones
Apparently, the Game of Thrones used the fort as one of the important shooting locations. It portrayed the Red Keep, if that means anything to you. It also portrayed the Red Keep if that doesn’t mean anything to you. It’s just that in that case it would, um, er, mean less to you.
I didn’t see the Game of Throne series. Nor do I have any desire to. But I read the books so I’m somewhat familiar with the Red Keep. (I think I might be the only person who read them, but didn’t enjoy them. So none of it is special to me.) But I had no idea how the series portrayed it.
When I was there, I saw at least three Game of Thrones tours roaming the place. I know they were Game of Thrones tours because all of the leaders carried similar-looking, spiral-bound books with what I assume were frame captures from the series. I’m confident in that guess because one of the leaders had the book open to the cover page which showed a “Game of Thrones” title. And when I passed a couple of the groups I heard the leaders telling their charges what Game of Thrones scene were filmed where they stood.
Saint Ignatius Church
Saint Ignatius Church rests on a plateau atop a staircase that resembles the Spanish Steps in Rome. If I had to deal with such overbearing hordes (see below) I’d want to rest too.
It is a Jesuit church built in the Roman Baroque style and completed in 1725. The interior is attractive, with one not unappealing oddity.
In 1885, they built a stone cave right inside the church, off to the right just as you enter, and dedicated it to Our Lady of Lourdes. I feel better already.
Saint Blaise’s Church
Saint Blaise’s Church occupies a prominent spot in old town. I passed by it a number of times during my time here, but I always encountered closed doors. Today, the doors were open.
Surprisingly, Saint Blaise has absolutely to do with Blaise Pascal. According to Wikipedia, in life, the person who became sainted as Saint Blaise was a physician and bishop of Sebastea in Lesser Romania.
Blaise Pascal was a mathematician and philosopher, among other vocations. To the best of my knowledge, no one ever sainted him. I don’t know why not. Mathematicians and philosophers deserve to be venerated too, don’t they?
Saint Blaise is the patron saint of Dubrovnik. Blaise Pascal isn’t.
Back to the church. Saint Blaise’s Church was built in 1715 on the foundations of a medieval Romanesque church.
It’s interior is baroque and quite attractive.
Tour groups and unaffiliated tourists, such as me, overwhelmed Dubrovnik this morning. I don’t know why the crowds thronged to Dubrovnik today, a Wednesday, more so than on the weekend when I arrived. My only guess is that a few large cruise ships pulled up to Dubrovnik today.
Out, damned tourists! Out, I say! Except for me, of course.
Oh, about those tour groups. Their leaders seem to think they have royal assent to claim exclusive dominion over any land they cross or stand on.
Shortly after I left Fort Lovrijenac, I found a rare, coveted, empty spot on a bench. I occupied it.
Shortly thereafter, a tour leader speaking, I think it was, German led her group close up in front of me. She stood almost on top of me.
She then proceeded to drone loudly at her group. I could bear it for only a minute or so before I had to stand up and barge my way through her group massed around me to escape them.
In my travels, I’ve been in a number of situations where tour leaders commandeer spots regardless of who else may happen to already be there. I don’t say “harrumph” nearly often enough. If that makes me a curmudgeon, so be it. I wear the mantle proudly.
I ate lunch today on one of the less-trod streets in old town Dubrovnik. When I say on the street, I of course don’t mean I had to eat directly off the paving stones. But my table and chair did sit on the street. Because the old town bans cars, restaurants can place tables on the street, provided they leave room for pedestrians to walk by. Many restaurants do so, including the one I ate lunch at today.
My lunch consisted of an exceptionally delicious fish stew in a tomato-based sauce, a glass of wine, and an espresso. Again today, I ate leisurely, spending almost an hour and a half over lunch. I could get used to this life if I had to.
I need to make one clarification to something I said yesterday. In one of yesterday’s posts, I mentioned the Church of the Annunciation as one of the churches I popped into then and didn’t find particularly interesting. I now realize that I left a word out of its name, “Holy.” Its official name is the “Church of the Holy Annunciation.” That’s the name on the church and on Google Maps.
I learned today that it also has another common name, “The Serbian Orthodox Church.” I followed a recommendation by both the tour book and walking tour app I use to visit the The Serbian Orthodox Church. Only when I got there did I realize that it is the same as the Church of the Holy Annunciation. It’s highly recommended? Um. Okay.
#Fort #Lovrijenac #Churches #Hordes #Joels #Journeys #Jaunts