The Revelin fortress also has a particular place in the fortified architecture of the city, standing on a prominent site and reflecting the city’s power. It was built at the eastern entrance to the city, at Ploče Gate, to defend the eastern approach and the harbour.
Each fortress of the Dubrovnik fortification complex, with its own powerful shape and its dominating strategic position, speaks its role through the long and turbulent history of Dubrovnik. They have lost their original function today but they have definitely not lost their splendour. They are the real works of art among the historic architecture of Dubrovnik.
The name itself generally means a pre-fortification or a kind of bastion built in those dangerous times of sieges and attacks - city moats as small islands in front of the city entrances obviously for defence reasons. However, Revelin in Dubrovnik is more than that due to its monumentality and size. It is connected to the mainland by one stone and a wooden draw-bridge and to the city with another stone bridge. In that position, encircled by a moat on three sides and by the sea on the fourth, southern side, it was almost impossible to conquer the fortress itself and that part of the city.
Its construction in stone began in the 15th century but the fortress gained its real dimensions and size in the 16th century. It was built according to the design and the model of Anton Ferramolino, an Italian architect from Bergamo. The work started in 1539 when a vast army of various craftsmen, builders, stone carvers, masons, blacksmiths, masters of the works and the other labourers started with their hard work and the fortress was raised in a ten year period. But the work was continued for a longer period, almost to the end of the 16th century for the purpose of improved defence of the city. In regard to major or minor threats from Venetians or Turks, the other construction work around the city had to be postponed and the construction of the Revelin fortress hastened.
The various shapes, including,its roundness and sharpness, were formed and its powerfulness and impressive size were created through the hard labour of many hands that could be recognized in each stone that had to be brought, shaped, dressed and build into strong masonry, and its crenellations, sentinels, loops etc.
Though it represents immense strength this stronghold, like the other structures was, nevertheless, built with a sense of measure, just like the whole city. Every fortified structure had to respect the harmony of the walled city. In spite of many alterations, reinforcement work and additions made because of current needs, this fortress was successfully incorporated in the urban defensive setting.
It served several purposes throughout its history; both the Cathedral Treasury and also the city treasury were located there, it was the place of Dubrovnik Government Councils meetings and a garrison for some time, too. In more recent times, its wonderful large roof-terrace was the stage for many famous ballet dancers, folk ensembles and other musicians. Nowadays, it is undergoing huge reconstruction, hopefully to become the centre of international cultural and artistic events again.
Dramatically poised on the highest point of the City of Dubrovnik overlooking the sea and land at every possible danger that might threaten its residents, this powerful and monumental fortress is today a real symbol of Dubrovnik and a monument of high historical value. It is a witness of turbulent times and many secrets inherited across numerous centuries.
If a step back in time is taken, it can be found that Minčeta was initially a squared Gothic tower built by Nicifor Ranjina and the same shape remained until the mid-15th century i.e. the sundown of the fall of Constantinople. That mighty fortress claimed special status for the Republic of Dubrovnik from a strategic point of view as the Government engaged the famous Florentine Michelozzo Michelozzi to design a sophisticated fortress corresponding to the military devices of the new already foreseeable Renaissance times. This Italian architect took part in its creation, but the fortress's finest feature was the work of a Dalmatian architectural genius Juraj Dalmatinac who built Minčeta, a 'cathedral' among the fortifications, by constructing its majestic battlement on top.
Minčeta was designed as a massive military stronghold to echo the power of Venice and the greed of the Ottoman Empire. Its dominating presence, undiminished by the passage of time, could be a history lesson in stone.
As it dominates the walled town, the views from its battlement are breathtaking, down to the roof shell of the City nestled in the ring of the city walls and surrounded by the fascinating blue Adriatic sea.
Like other numerous significant historic sites of Dubrovnik, the Minčeta fortress, a masterpiece in stonework with its imposing position and intriguing atmosphere, has become an attractive site for wedding ceremonies and similar events.
Author: Kate Bagoje