The Homeland War in Dubrovnik: Roots, Realities, and Revitalization
- Old Town: Go back to a time in recent history when the noise was deafening and the city walls shook from months of siege fire.
- Structural Survival: See renovated houses that took direct hits when shells rained down on the town.
- Your Guide’s Eyewitness Perspective: There's nothing like placing a face to an historical drama to help us to better understand the human dimension, misconceptions, and deeper truths of conflict.
About this Dubrovnik tour
For centuries, the Balkans have been one of Europe's cauldrons, a hotspot where various empires and ethnic groups have battled each other for territory. After the breakup of the socialist nation of Yugoslavia, the region boiled over and plunged into a bloody dismemberment, with Dubrovnik becoming a main theater of the macabre.
When Croatia declared independence on June 25, 1991, its neighbors became enraged. Some wanted to keep a confederation together, some wanted land, and some wanted retribution for perceived past grievances. By the end of the year, roughly a third of the country was occupied by the JNA, the Yugoslav Army.
Not Dubrovnik, however. But boy, did the JNA want it. Not just for strategic reasons, but for psychological, too, since the city has long been renowned as the jewel of the Dalmatian coast. And although Dubrovnik was already listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, something that warrants protection and preservation, it mattered little to the JNA, rebel Serbs, and volunteers from Montenegro. Their joint siege lasted for months, an assault of artillery and sniper fire that left more than 100 residents dead and resulted in damage to more than half the city's buildings, as well as its stone walls. Yet the siege failed, thanks to the strength of the medieval walls, the bravery of a ragtag group of Croatian fighters, and the inner fortitude of the populace.
Today, the siege’s damage isn’t easy to spot at first glance. However, as one strolls around the walls and looks out at the rooftops, a tell-tale sign is a non-uniformity in the color of the tiles; more than half of the city's roofs sustained hits and needed postwar repair, yet the local producer of the tiles had closed in the 1950s. Eventually, the brighter tiles will weather and blend in with the originals. And these battle scars will fade into just another chapter of the city's centuries-old history of power struggles, sieges, and, ultimately, the triumphant restoration of peace and harmony.
Orange is the new...orange
The traditional tiles used in Dubrovnik were called "Kupe Kanalice," originally hand-manufactured in the shape of a thigh (during the Middle Ages the thighs of human models were used to mould the tiles). Restorers were forced to use imported French replacements that, although of the right size and shape, were of a slightly different hue. The patchwork of old and new simultaneously creates a symbolic dichotomy – the legacy of the perversions of war on one hand, and the perseverance of a people on the other.
Please proceed to the big Onofrius Fountain in Dubrovnik Old Town (Poljana Paska Milicevica) to meet your guide, and look for a red umbrella.
Old Town features some great shops and restaurants. Your guide can make any recommendations so plan to explore, shop and grab a bite after your tour.
Plan to walk or stand for an hour, over flat paved and cobblestone paths and climb some steps. Dubrovnik Old Town is wheelchair accessible; most of museums are not. Bring a companion to offer any assistance.
Walking Tour, Budget, Cultural
Tour Participation Requirements
This experience is rated mild. To participate fully, you may be required to walk over primarily even surfaces at a leisurely pace. You may encounter a limited number of steps, cobblestones, or uneven surfaces, and you may have to stand for extended periods of time.
Suitable for all ages.
Full refunds issued for cancellations made 7 full days prior to the date and time of requested services. Cancellations made within the 7-day and 72-hour window will receive a 50% refund of purchase total. Purchases are non-refundable inside of 72 hours.
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