History of Srđ and Imperial Fortress

 History of Srđ and Imperial Fortress

The importance of the Srđ plateau dates far back into history. This area used to be a part of the former Astarea of Dubrovnik, the first territory of Dubrovnik which  included not only the city. According to all the old historical works of Dubrovnik, Astarea was donated to Dubrovnik in ninth or eleventh century by the Bosnian King Stjepan I, although the interpretations of historians of the 19th and 20th centuries contend that Astarea was acquired from the rulers of Zachlumia and Travunia of that era.
For centuries, the various cultures inhabited the Srđ plateau, leaving remnants thereof in the form of monuments to the patrons of Dubrovnik at the time. The Church of St. Sergius is one of the missing structures and its connection with the house in a form of a small tower proves that Srđ had been a strategically important station for overseeing the wider Dubrovnik area since the Early Middle Ages.

The Republic of Dubrovnik, during its long existence paid special attention to determining its territory, starting from the cities through a series of fortified buildings constructed to defend its territory and population. Because of its exceptional geo-strategic position, Srđ has played an important role in this system.

The Church of St. Sergius was demolished in the early 19th century, upon the arrival of Napoleon's army and the final fall of the Dubrovnik Republic, during the construction of the current Imperial Fortress which the French had decided to raise as a strong, defence outpost on the top of Srđ. The Church of St. Sergius was located below its current eastern corner. The Imperial Fortress consists of two elongated buildings and separated bastions on the side.

The French continued their strategy of the defensive fortification of the territory, which resulted in the construction of a number of individual fortresses in strategically important places in the immediate vicinity of the city. When in 1815 the Republic of Dubrovnik legally ceased to exist and its territory fell under the authority of Austria, a period which would last longer than a century had began and during that time the upgrading and demolition of the existing fortifications were made. In 1886 Dubrovnik was declared an open city; the fortifications around the city were abandoned and partially demolished. However, the city walls, forts and the imperial fortresses on Srđ remained armed.

A long period of Austrian rule in the area of Dubrovnik greatly influenced the development of the whole territory. The well established administration of the Empire contributed to the development of accurate cadastral maps, with a list of deeds, which were made in a colour drawing technique in the ratio 1:2880 and is now kept in the Map Archive in Split. This makes them a valuable source of information for the evaluation of the architectural heritage, and they are also being used in the preparation of the project documentation for Golf Park Dubrovnik.

The excellent strategic and architectural function of the plateau on Srđ has always been recognised. This place was used during WWI and WWII, during the period of two Yugoslavias, and upon the establishment of the independent Croatian state this place was the frontline of Dubrovnik's defence against Serbian-Montenegrin aggression.