War in Dubrovnik - 25 years later

War in Dubrovnik - a look back in time


Whoa, it's been 25 years, yet it somehow feels like it was not that long ago... A lot of you know about the hardships Croatia had to endure to become independent. The Homeland War lasted from 1991-1995, and a large part of Croatian territory was occupied by the Yugoslav army and Serbian paramilitary rebels.

When it's happening far away, you see it in the news, you read about it, but you don't think it will come to you. That's how the people of Dubrovnik thought, but unfortunately, the war did come to them as well. The Yugoslav army started besieging Dubrovnik on October 1, 1991. It only got worse as the days went by, and in November, the first mortars fell on the red roofs of the UNESCO World Heritage site, the Old town.

For us, four or five-year old kids, it was like an adventure. Our mothers took us to the shelters inside fort Revelin or Minčeta tower. The strong walls offered safety and there was a feeling of mutual understanding among the people. Friends, neighbours and even strangers, they were all helping each other in times of great danger. Women and children were evacuated north, away from all the fighting.

On daybreak of December 6, 1991, the Yugoslav army launched an all-out attack on Dubrovnik. Heavy artillery, air strikes and naval support. On that day, more than 60% of the buildings in the Old town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, were badly damaged. Monuments, palaces, churches...The Old town was engulfed in flames.

The following morning, on December 7, 1991, people came out of the shelters to witness the utter annihilation. They cried. Why would anyone attack a civilian target, a demilitaruzed zone prozected by UNESCO? Questions without answers...Only shock and disbelief.

Twenty-five years later, the Old town is rebuilt and its previous glory is restored. It took a long time, but the message is clear - no matter how hard you hit us, we will rise again, strong and beautiful as ever. The wounds have healed. Let's hope it will never happen again!