About Orlando Column
Since its erection in 1418, Orlando Column (Orlando’s column) has been a central part of celebrations in Dubrovnik. The column is a depiction of the legendary knight who is said to have saved the city from a siege in the 9th century. Located in Luza Square, the Libertas flag is still raised here each year to mark the start of the Dubrovnik summer festival.
History of Orlando Column
Erected in 1418, Orlando Column is situated in the heart of the Old Town in the centre of Luza Square, in front of St. Blaise’s Church. The pillar was designed and created by local sculptor Antun Dubrovčanin and master sculptor Bonino di Milano.
St. Orlando was a 9th century armoured knight who, according to legend, defended the people of old Dubrovnik (Ragusa) after a 15 month long Saracen siege during the Middle Ages, allowing Dubrovnik to remain a free trade city-state.
The true version of events is that Orlando was one of many stone statues erected to symbolise the city being a member of the Hanseatic League, which meant that it was allied with and under the protection of the Hungarian-Croatian King.
Though the legend is just a story, the monument remains a symbol of freedom, with the column now also doubling up as a flag carrier that features the Libertas (freedom) flag of the town’s summer festival as well as the St. Blaise festival flag.
The column served multiple practical purposes. Atop the column is a small, fenced platform that was used for public proclamations, with public punishments being performed at the sight of the column. Orlando’s forearm was also the standard measure of the Ragusan cubit, lakat, which is shown more accurately by a line on its base.
Orlando Column Today
Today, as hundreds of years back, Orlando is still proudly a central part of the opening and closing ceremonies of Dubrovnik Summer Festival, as he guards a banner hoisted on the supported mast above the column.
Getting to Orlando Column
Orlando Column is an 8 minute drive from the centre of Dubrovnik. It is also reachable in around half an hour by foot from the centre.
For those who wish to absorb more local history, the City Bell Tower, built in 1444, is situated in the same historic square as Orlando Column. The famous Pile Gate and walls, known as a setting from HBO’s ‘Game of Thrones’, is also a three minute walk from the column.