Renovated Ston Town Walls opened
After many years of renovation, the Ston town walls, the longest fortress system in Europe and the second largest in the whole world have recently been opened to the public. This is the most comprehensive activity in all the cultural heritage renovations in Croatia.
The first works for renovating the walls were started fifty years ago by the Dubrovnik conservationist and historian Lukša Beritic (1889 – 1969), and the long term renovations intensified in 2003.
The reason behind why the renovations have taken so long is because of the way they were carried out, being carried out almost in exactly the same way the walls were made – by sculpting the stone. The Friends of Dubrovnik’s Ancient Sights association has taken care of the walls since 1952, and financed the renovation project where they have invested around three to five million HRK a year. After the renovations, visitors will pay an entrance fee to visit this exceptional attraction, which will enable their support and further renovation and also stimulate the cultural and tourist development of Ston.
The Ston walls were built in the 14th century, after the Republic of Dubrovnik took over Pelješac in 1334. A huge defence system, or the great wall, was built for protection and was the largest urban fortification project in Europe of that time. The defensive walls were first built on either side of the peninsula. The plans were fortified by two towns, southern Ston and northern Mali Ston. Pelješac was separated from the mainland with the help of the Great wall, which was a total length of 5.5 km.
Today only 5 km of the wall remains because the remainder disappeared in the earthquakes during 17th and 20th centuries. The walls were strengthened with 40 towers and 5 fortresses. They started and ended with two large fortresses: Korun in Mali Ston and Veliki kaštio in Ston. The most famous and largest fortress is Bartolomeo on the hill above Ston. According to ancient Dubrovnik chronicles, it took 18 months to build the great wall. Within the town walls of Ston there are four blocks of residential houses and palaces, a public building (Rector’s palace, building for the office of the Republic of Dubrovnik, the building of the main guard, a fountain from the Ston waterworks built in 1581), the church of St. Blaise, a Bishop’s palace and a Franciscan monastery.
Mali Ston is built on the northern side of the Ston walls beside the shoreline of Malo More, also according to the town plans from 1335 and 1358 which are kept in Dubrovnik’s historical archives. These are the oldest preserved plans in Europe. The main buildings in Mali Ston are the harbour with the harbour wall, the salt warehouse, arsenal, parish church, parish castle, Luža bell tower, as well as the huge Korun fortress.
The Ministry of Culture has announced that the Ston walls, Ston and Mali Ston as well as the Ston saltpan will be offer in their entirety as candidates for the UNESCO world cultural heritage list in which recently Croatian cultural heritage phenomena were listed. (Source: Dubrovnik Tourist Board www.visitdubrovnik.hr)