When you take a walk from Stradun to the harbour, exhausted from the crowd and steps, wishing to get close to the sea, you will find yourself before a dream-like scene. The old harbour is a necklace of boats, embraced with a mighty fort, the old St. John’s Fortress, stretching out like a fist from the south side to protect and defend.
If you approach the City from the sea, you will be welcomed by this magnificent dominant fort of St. John as a guard of the City. The fortress is a witness of the long and turbulent history. Over the centuries it had passed from an ancient probably wooden fort to the medieval stronghold called “Od Mula” and later to the powerful Renaissance fortress with its present monumental shape. It is absolutely inconceivable to think of a postcard of Dubrovnik without the fort.
The Fortress has withstood the ages and storms and the furious waves it has become used to. Right beside the Church “Gospa od Kamena” that was built on the substructure of the earlier one is the Church of St. John, that obviously gave its name to the Fortress. It is also connected to the famous Porporela, the site for lovers, immersed in the sea, overlooking the island of Lokrum with its splendour of greenery. In front of the Fortress the breakwater “Kaše” was designed for additional protection of the city as the old Ragusans only let seagulls enter their city-treasure without a permit.
Nowadays, as before, the boats rest beside St. John’s Fortress, their sails swing and their ropes creak, the sea breathes and leaves its scent and travellers come and go. It is a museum today, the Maritime Museum that recounts the great Dubrovnik naval tradition and seafaring history with sea captains and skilful shipbuilders. St. John’s Fortress is proud of its living exhibition of the wonderful sea world of the Adriatic Sea, with the Aquarium located on its ground floor. Its terrace was the stage of Sophocles’s Oedipus, Christopher Colombus and many more known and unknown passers-by and enamoured visitors of fortifications who did not even imagine that underneath lay the art studio of the famous artist Đuro Politika. All these attractions of St. John’s Fortress are only parts of the history of Dubrovnik’s rich heritage with its never-ending beauty.
Author: Kate Bagoje