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02. 02. 2016 @ Antonija Eremut

Ljubuški Old Town

Category: cultural heritage GPS: LAT: 43.2012646031896 / LONG 17.5577592250353

Ljubuški Old Town is located on the eastern ridge of the hill Buturovica (elevation of 349 m). A walking mountain trail leads to the city from Gožulj, on the southern side. On the northern side a macadam road was built, a bit further from the foot of the city from the western side. The basis of the old town's built complex has the shape of an irregular polygon. Its length in the east - west direction is around 93 m, while its average width in the north - south direction is around 50 m with a total area of about 3. 350 m2. It is assumed that the oldest part of the city, today the central tower, was built in the 14th or 15th century. The name of the tower is Herceguša, after the Duke (“herceg“) Stjepan Vukčić Kosača, however, the question of its builder still remains controversial. In the mid-15th century, the city was in the possession of the nobleman from Herzegovina, Stjepan Vukčić Kosača, and was mentioned in 1454 in a charter as his estate and as a Civitas Lublano. An interesting story is related to Ljubuški Old Town, actually, a war between a father and a son for a woman. In the mid-15th century Duke's son Vladislav captured a caravan that was intended for the Sultan's palace in Constantinople. In the caravan there was a beautiful dancer and entertainer from Florence. Vladislav liked the girl and decided to keep her for himself. However, Duke Stjepan also liked the Florence dancer. He just took the girl from Vladislav's hands and brought her to Ljubuški. When people heard that Stjepan closed himself inside the city with his beloved (“ljuba“), they called the city Ljubuški. The angry son Vladislav, with the help of the people of Dubrovnik, gathered an army and declared war on his father. The army reached and surrounded Ljubuški. Legend has it that Duke Stjepan and his escort escaped the city one night. But to fool those chasing him, he shod the horses wrong. The next day they went to the west, where the horse tracks led, while Stjepan rode to the east, towards the safety of Blagaj. However, this is only a legend. It is known that Vladislav, even with the help of the people of Dubrovnik, failed to conquer Ljubuški. Later on Duke Stjepan made peace with his son. The city fell in the hands of the Ottomans sometime before 1477, when it became a border fortress with a strong crew. In the Ottoman documents it was mentioned in 1565 as "k'ala Lupuška" (Ljubuški fortress). In the 17th century Ljubuški became the seat of kadiluk, and in the 18th century a military and administrative district called kapetanija. It is known that the builders from Mostar repaired some damage to the fortress in 1767.

The medieval town is made up of tower Herceguša and an enclosure in front of the tower. At the top of the tower there were loopholes that are now gone. The north wall, about 15 m high, has been preserved to the roof. The side walls are rather dilapidated, while the south wall was destroyed by an earthquake in 1961. Along the eastern half of the south wall there are stairs, buried today, which once led to the tower. On the south side of the tower lies an enclosure of 20 x 10, 15 m. Entrance to the enclosure is on the south wall, which is partially demolished.

Ljubuški had its defensive role until 1835, when they abolished kapetanijas. After that it began to deteriorate rapidly, as the Austro-Hungarian Empire showed no interest for the city. Since this is the only fortified medieval town on the right bank of the River Neretva, it was declared a national cultural monument. However, time has taken its toll and to avoid the town becoming a pile of ruins, an urgent protection and restoration of the city are needed.