During the wars that led to the disintegration of Yugoslavia, Dubrovnik was shelled by federal forces. While much of Dubrovnik has since been rebuilt by the time of his 2002 visit, the Monkey explored one place that had scarcely changed since the days of the war.
The Monkey poses on the high rocky outcrop of the Lovrjenac Fort, built beginning in 1038 as additional defense for the city of Dubrovnik. The fort’s view highlights the immensity of the city walls, which were especially daunting along the sea frontage.
Dubrovnik’s walls held most enemies at bay until 1991, when Croatia’s moves toward secession and independence brought a swift and severe response from the Yugoslav federal government in Belgrade. The Yugoslav Army set up artillery on the mountains at the rear of Dubrovnik (visible here) and unleashed their shells on the city, while the Yugoslav Navy shelled the city from the sea. At least 43 of Dubrovnik’s residents were killed during the bombardment, and many more were injured. The attack also destroyed many of the city’s historic buildings. From a military viewpoint, the shelling of Dubrovnik was almost completely pointless, except as an attempt to ruin the would-be independent Croatia’s tourism sector.
After Croatia had garnered its independence, international aid helped to rebuild and restore the battered city. Dubrovnik has quickly regained its vibrancy and its status as one of the leading tourist destinations in the Balkans. Nonetheless, reminders of the war are still visible in everything from the darker shade of the replacement red roof tiles to the handful of buildings still being restored. Some structures, like the Hotel Libertas seen on the rest of this page, are unlikely ever to be restored.
One of the most heavily damaged sites in the city was the Hotel Libertas, a modern resort hotel that catered to wealthy Yugoslavs and Western package tourists.
The Monkey surveyed the interior of the devastated hotel, noting its Balkan communist architectural flourishes and the eerie end the shells brought to business as usual here. In this photo, he sits on the counter in the lobby bar, with war damage visible all around.
On December 6, 1991, shells tore through the roof of the Hotel Libertas, gutting parts of the complex. As the war spread and internal displacement ravaged Croatia, the damaged hotel became home to hundreds of refugees. At the right of the photo you can see the crater left by a shell that fell on the pool’s terrace. The Monkey was transfixed by the shell of this once prestigious hotel.
The terraces of the Hotel Libertas’ suites are now overgrown, though their views over the waters of the Adriatic remain unblocked. Wandering inside the hotel, the Monkey found decaying mattresses, broken furniture, and dark hallways dripping with water and cluttered by refuse. Outside, locals still use the abandoned hotel’s sea frontage for sunbathing and swimming.
Note: Hotel Libertas was renovated and reopened in 2007.
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