As you look out over the city of Dubrovnik, it’s hard not to be struck by the flamboyant red roofs. The color is brighter than one would expect for an ancient city but most of the clay tiles you see in this photo had to be replaced after the bombardment this Unesco World Heritage Site came under in the 1991 war. Our Croatian host said that there was no strategic reason for the city to be bombed – it was done for spite.
During the height of the bombardment, he remembers helping women, children and the elderly board boats in the middle of the night so that they could flee to safety. His own family left that night and he no doubt wondered if he would ever see them again. He also told us he and his fellow Croatians wondered why the US and the other western leaders appeared to be doing so little to help stop the death and destruction. They, too, he said, “would surely want to save this beautiful city.”
Both the city and our host survived the seige and he eventually re-united with his family. But 68 percent of the buildings in the walled city were hit by shells and there were many Croatian casualties. Today Dubrovnik has been rebuilt and is thriving. It is fun to sit along the main thoroughfare (no motorized vehicles are permitted inside the walled city) and watch how seamlessly the lives of the locals and of tourists like me mesh.