The monumental fortress, sometimes called “Gibraltar of Dubrovnik”, rises 37 meters above sea level and has had numerous roles in its history. Of course – the primary reason for its construction was protection of Dubrovnik’s freedom. Written documents prove that construction started in 1018, but due to the extraordinary importance and strategic value of chosen position fortress Lovrjenac was repeatedly refined and strengthened during the next few centuries.
Throughout that period the preservation of Dubrovnik freedom was seriously threatened by the Venetians. Therefore, the fortress was valuable as an additional protection or support to the city’s defenders. Whoever wanted to attack Dubrovnik from the open sea had to go through the narrow strait between Lovrijenac and the the City, consequently caught in the middle of fire coming from both sides. In the fortress were deployed approximately twenty guards, headed by a captain (always a nobleman changing every month).
Today Lovrijedac is triangular shaped and has three levels. The thickness of the walls towards the sea amounts up to 12 meters (40 feet!), while walls towards the City are considerably thinner – only 60 cm (2 feet) thick. There is a plain logic behind such odd disproportion: walls facing the city had to be easier to penetrate had the fortress at any moment fall into the enemy’s hands.
Above the door leading to the stone fortress is the engraved inscription “Non Bene Pro Toto Libertas Selling Auro” – “Freedom is not sold for any treasure of the world”. The fortress houses charming Chapel of St. Lawrence (Croatian: Sveti Lovro).
Today, there is a large number of drama works performed at the Dubrovnik Summer Festival (resembling Danish castle Elsinor Lovrijenac became famous stage for Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”) and is also a wonderful background for romantic weddings.
The fortress is open to visitors.