Iconic Roofs – Dubrovnik
Viewers of Game of Thrones may be familiar with this week’s article. The city of Dubrovnik in Croatia has enjoyed much popularity as being one of the main locations in HBO’s hit TV series, before its unfortunate destruction by a rampaging dragon. Thankfully, the city of Dubrovnik has not been destroyed by a dragon, and its pretty red roofs still shine in the sun for all to see.
The city’s history began in the 7th century, when it was settled by Greek refugees from further south in Croatia. They called the city Ragusa, which remained the city’s official name until 1918. For much of its history, the city was an independent merchant republic, like Venice or Genoa, but ultimately fell under occupation by Napoleon in the early 19th century. The city came under Austrian control after Napoleon’s defeat and would remain there for roughly 100 years, until the fall of Austria-Hungary at the end of the First World War. Dubrovnik then became a part of Yugoslavia along with the rest of Croatia, which fell under Axis occupation in the Second World War. It was then liberated and returned to Yugoslavia until the nation’s breakup in 1991. This was not the end of Dubrovnik’s troubles, unfortunately, as Yugoslavia’s breakup only lead to more instability in the Balkans. The city was then shelled by the Yugoslav People’s Army for seven months. 650 artillery rounds landed, 114 people died, and 56% of the city’s buildings were damaged.
With such a turbulent history, you may now understand why the city’s 800-year old walls are still standing – despite all the wars, they’ve never been breached! Yet the city’s future appears peaceful and prosperous. The city has been an outstanding tourist destination for a number of years following its reconstruction in the 90s. It’s easy to see why – clear blue waters, beautiful buildings, and over a thousand years of history. Dubrovnik is one of the centres of Croatia’s booming tourism industry.
The roofs themselves get their colour from their red tiles; a building feature used in the city’s Old Town. It’s estimated that around 70% of the terracotta roof tiles originally used in the buildings were destroyed during the 1992 bombardments, but a UNESCO-coordinated reconstruction project helped to rebuild the Old Town and establish Dubrovnik as a world heritage site.
“Most of the damage caused by the siege of Dubrovnik was to rooftops. For the most part, however, the effects of the war are no longer lodged in the stones of Dubrovnik, but inscribed in people’s psyches.”