As the saying goes and as we all know, when it comes to war there are rarely any winners. But in the building of Lovrijenac Fortress, the Croatians surely earned the right to at least blow a big, wet raspberry in the direction of their would-be conquerors.
As the nearly thousand year old legend goes, Dubrovnik was under attack from Venetian troops who were looking for a vantage point from which to weaken the hold domestic forces had on their turf. A rocky protrusion to the west of the city’s famous defensive walls was deemed to be the perfect place on which to pitch the troops. With good access from both land and sea, and its proximity to a small yet significant port (Kolorina, also the oldest in the area), it certainly would give a great advantage to the invaders’ overall campaign.
Unfortunately for the Italians, someone on the home team caught wind of this plan and assembled the local forces, rallying them to start work tout de suite on a stronghold of their own. In only three short months, the St Lawrence Fortress (to give it its anglicized name) came into being on the exact spot the assailants had selected for themselves.
Of course, when the Venetian’s sailed back into the port, their ships groaning under the weight of the construction materials they had brought with them, they were a little put out to see that their prime location was now, unquestionably, claimed. Dejected, they turned tail and drifted back across the Adriatic, probably hearing a few choice words from the Croatian community drifting with them on the wind.
Though many features of the original base have been lost throughout the various renovations, eras and earthquakes, one small inscription sitting above the gated doorway serves to remind all visitors of the remarkable story behind the fastest fort in the west. Pulled from a fable penned by wise old Aesop, the text simply reads ‘Libertas Venditur Auro’ – Freedom is not to be sold for all the treasures in the world.