What’s the deal with St Lawrence fortress anyway?
Well, this fortress was actually a big deal a long time before Game of Thrones made it a star.
Fort Lovrijenac or St. Lawrence Fortress, often called “Dubrovnik’s Gibraltar”, is a fortress and theater outside the western wall of the city of Dubrovnik in Croatia, 37 meters above sea level. Famous for its plays and importance in resisting Venetian rule, it overshadows the two entrances to the city, from the sea, and by land.
Early in the 11th century, the Venetians attempted to build a fort on the same spot where Fort Lovrijenac currently stands. If they had succeeded, they would have kept Dubrovnik under their power, but the people of the city beat them to it. The “Chronicles of Ragusa” reveal how the fort was built within just three months’ time and from then on constantly reconstructed. When the Venetian ships arrived, full of materials for the construction of the fort, they were told to return to Venice.
To prevent the fortress commander get any swollen ideas of his own power, he was placed in the thinnest portion of the fortress where he could be easily overrun! Also, he was replaced every month.
Fort Lovrijenac has a triangular shape with three terraces. The sea-facing side of the fortress has walls 12 meters thick but on the land facing side, the walls are only 60 centimeters thick. This was done so that fort was ever taken into enemy hands, the city’s cannons could break the walls.
The fort Lovrijenac was named after St Lawrence, a much-revered saint at the time of the Dubrovnik Republic, and there was once a church dedicated to him within its walls. Unfortunately, a great deal of the interior was destroyed in Dubrovnik’s earthquake of 1667.
Fun fact: You can rent the fort for a wedding at the moderate price of 4,000 euros.
Notice the famous inscription carved in stone above the entrance to the fortress: “Non Bene Pro Toto Libertas Venditur Auro” (“Freedom is not to be sold for all the treasures in the world”).
This is a proud reminder of the fortitude and fierce desire for freedom long possessed by the people of Dubrovnik, despite the threat of numerous great empires.
Did you know: Dubrovnik did not participate in slavery and, in 1416, banned slavery by law, being one of the first countries in the world to do that. The law was created to send a clear message to the world that the Ragusans enormously valued human life. The Republic of Dubrovnik had a long history of fighting for justice, equality and freedom. For example, the USA banned the slave trade 450 years later.
Today the fortress is used for wedding ceremonies and theatre plays during the Dubrovnik Summer Festival, of which the performance of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” has become the symbol of.
Fort Lovrijenac (The Red Keep) and Game of Thrones
Game of Thrones fans will recognize fort from the show since a number of scenes were filmed there. The Fort makes frequent appearances in Season 2 and Season 3.
Fort’s interiors are used as the halls of the Red Keep and the exteriors are seen in shots of Blackwater Bay, were Myrcella Baratheon is shipped off to Dorne.
If you want to know more about Red Keep check out Game of Thrones Tour where an expert guide will reveal you behind the scenes stories and gossips that can’t be found on Google!
Some of the scenes that take place within the Red Keep include:
- The setting for King Joffrey’s naming ceremony. Later in the episode, the Red Keep is where Cersei confronts Littlefinger and he tells her ‘knowledge is power’ as she fires back with ‘power is power’ (the premiere of Season 2 ‘The North Remembers’)
- The scene where Tyrion, Podrick, and Bronn walk on the walls after the battle of Blackwater (Season 3 Episode 1 ‘Valar Dohaeris’).
- The scene when Cersei asks Littlefinger to help in removing the Tyrells from King’s Landing (Season 3 Episode 5 ‘Kissed by Fire’).