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Orlando’s Column

Orlando’s Column in Dubrovnik portrays the legendary figure Roland, the main character of the most important literary work dating back to the Middle Ages, the Chanson de Roland. The story of Roland came to Dubrovnik via Italy. It was immediately tied to the conflict between Dubrovnik and the Saracen pirate Spucente, who was supposedly defeated by Roland near the island of Lokrum. Orlando’s Column was also a column of freedom, a symbol of Dubrovnik’s independence, but also a column of shame. Simultaneously, Orlando’s column was the patron of commerce in Dubrovnik. The elbow length of its right arm was called the Dubovnik Elbow and was 51,2 cm long. The appearance of Orlando’s Column today dates back to 1419. However, over the years and up until the last century, it was frequently turned around and repositioned. Orlando’s greatest misfortune occurred in 1825 when a strong wind knocked it down, sentencing it harshly: it was placed in storage for a half a century. When it was returned later on, its face and sword were turned northwards, for there was no longer any anticipated danger from the Turks and therefore no need for this hero to face the Levant.

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