The old town of Dubrovnik at the southern tip of Croatia is one of the most attractive medieval cities in Europe, enclosed by gigantic walls and fortifications. Viewed from the nearby island of Lockrum, the old city appears to rise out of the sea (like Venice which it once rivaled) as a mirage of rough-hewn stone and angular roofs composed of terra-cotta tiles. Sea, city and sky appear as in medieval perspective, stacked on top of one another rather than receding to a single vanishing point. Flattened out, the city’s spaces appear as shapes unified yet diverse, playing off each other in the brilliant sunlight.
Only when you get up close to the buildings do you realize that most of what you see is modern. Much of the old city was damaged as a result of the seven-month siege of Dubrovnik in the 1991-92 war between Croatian and Serbian forces. Meticulously restored since 2005, the traces of destruction are now seen only in the different colours of the new and old terra-cotta roof tiles.