The stone column, carved in the form of an ancient knight stands proudly on the eastern end of Stradun street, right in front of the City Bell Tower. On the top of Orlando column is a small platform designed for public proclamations. The column also supports a flag-pole that hoists the flag. During the St. Blaise fest, Orlando’s statue adorns the flag with his symbol, and during the time of Dubrovnik Summer Festival there’s the Libertas flag that symbolizes freedom.
In the 9th century Orlando and his fleet saved Dubrovnik after 15 months of Saracen siege. The grateful citizens made the beautiful column in Orlando’s honor. However, this legend is not true. It’s nothing but the story for the masses, an easy way to explain the knight-column.
Orlando (or Roland), was used as a symbol of a city under protection of the Hungarian-Croatian King. At given time (and circumstances) it was very common for the far-away cities of the Hanseatic League to place the similar stone statues that symbolize the protection and alliance with Hungarian- Croatian kingdom. They also symbolized the independence , stability and fairness of the authorities.
In 1825 Orlando’s column was struck by an accident. It was crashed by the strong wind. He was returned to his position in 1878, but this time turned towards north. But the problems remained. Since Orlando’s Column often holds the flag during the strong winds it constantly cracks. The last big crack emerged in 2007.
Poor Orlando is not only damaged by the bad weather conditions, but also people. The vandals have distorted his sword many times, so the one he holds right now isn’t the original but only a replica. There is always a replacement ready so it could be replaced the same day in the case of damage.
- The statue made in 1418. is a work of art made by genius Bonino di Milano with the help of local stone masons.
- The column has served many different purposes, but one of the most interesting is that the forearm of Orlando was the standard measure of the Ragusan cubit (lakat: 51,2 cm).
- Public proclamations were usually made from the top of the column.
- The public punishments were performed here too. The defendants were tied to it, in order to remain in the same position for several hours; exposed to the public ridicule, beaten, and tortured.
- Today,as hundreds of years ago, Orlando still has the center piece role especially during the opening and closing ceremony of Dubrovnik Summer Festival.
- It’s also the meeting point, a place where locals usually meet each other.