The Siege of Dubrovnik

I visited Dubrovnik in August, 2010

In 1991 Croatia, Bosnia and Slovenia seceded from the Yugoslav Federation. In response the Yugoslav Army (JNA), by then mostly run by Serbs, started an offensive on the three countries. The pretext was to protect local Serbs living in in of the three countries. The war in Slovenia, JNA’s first target would be over in days, Slovenia successfully claiming its independency, while the war in Bosnia and Croatia would drag on much longer.

The siege of Dubrovnik

View of Dubrovnik

The mountains are rising close to Dubrovnik, only a few hundred meters from the walls the steep hills begin. Dubrovnik, lying on the waterfront, can easily be besieged from above.

From the top the view is quite different depending on which way you look. Turn your gaze towards the Adriatic and you see Dubrovnik, glistening like a pearl in the sunshine. Surrounded by clean blue water.

Turn your eyes inland and all you see in hinterland. Mountains, little vegetation. A harsher land. Dubrovnik looks so much more beautiful.

The siege of Dubrovnik

View towards the east

When the Yugoslav Army came in October,1991, they came from the south, from Montenegro. They set up positions above Dubrovnik, took the small town of Cavtat, then started bombarding the city. As Dubrovnik was considered of little strategic importance and as home to practically no Serbs, the siege of Dubrovnik came as a huge surprise and only a few Croat forces were stationed there, vastly outnumbered. Once again the Walls of Dubrovnik would have to defend the city.

The siege of Dubrovnik

The coast line with Cavtat which was taken during the siege of Dubrovnik

From the top of the mountain we are far above Dubrovnik, it is almost as we are looking straight down at it. Bombarding the city would be a piece of cake, just like the Bosnian Serb forces stationed outside Sarajevo.

As it seemed Dubrovnik would soon fall, Zagreb panicked. The Croatian representative to the Yugoslav Presidency, Stipe Mesic, organised a convoy of small boats to break the naval blockade of Dubrovnik, implemented by the JNA. The convoy succeeded, a symbolic victory more than anything else.

New city of Dubrovnik

The ‘new city’ of Dubrovnik

If anything, the convoy brought international attention to the destruction of this beauiful city during the siege of Dubrovnik. The conflict soon turned to a stand-still, but it was almost a year later before the last Serbian forces withdrew from the Croatian coastline. By then the war in Bosnia had erupted. The Walls of Dubrovnik had held up once more. The city was almost destroyed, but it survived.

Siege of Dubrovnik

A cross on top of the mountain

We spent some time at the top, taking in the view. Dubrovnik truly is beautiful as it lies like a pearl by the water. When walking through the city you only see little parts of the city at once, small pieces of beauty. When seen from a distance, from above, and you see the whole city it is breathtaking.

There is a ropeway for easy transport up and down the mountain. It is easy to find, follow the signs or just walk towards the mountain. The view from thw top is amazing and gives you a bird’s eye perspective of this beautiful city.

Cable car in Dubrovnik

Waiting for the cable car to go up the mountain

Siege of Dubrovnik

Cable car on its way up

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  1. Pingback: The Walls of Dubrovnik « traveltorgeir

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