Nestled on the top terrace of Ft. Lovrijenac for almost three centuries stood a huge bronze cannon. Its lightgreen patina made it look dangerously reptilian as it basked in the sun setting down on the walled town. Cast in 1537 by the master Ivan of Rab, it measured five meters in length and weighed in at more than three tons. Truly a force to be reckoned with!
The Lizard intimidated the enemy more than any other piece of weaponry at the disposal of Dubrovnik's army. The story says that shortly after the catastrophic 1667 earthquake, staff captain at Ft. Lovrijenac Pero Ohmučević ordered his men to fire the Lizard at two Venetian galleons which, under the veil of night, had sneaked up to the city walls in an attempt to breach them where they were most damaged by the quake. The Lizard started to spit fire and soon enough its thunderous roar scared the attackers away. They retreated towards the bay of Gruž and then sailed off to the Venetian gulf.
The fate of this glorious cannon was as legendary as were its deadly blasts. Having been on Ft. Lovrijenac until the first decades of the 19th century, the Austrians ultimately decided to remove the Lizard and transfer it to the Military museum in Vienna. The „reptile“, however, couldn't go through the only narrow entrance to the fort, so the Austrians decided to lower it to a raft from the seaside of the fort. The ropes that held the Lizard broke and the beast of a cannon fell into the sea.
Some say that the townspeople intentionally cut the main rope because they didn't want the precious cannon, symbol of Dubrovnik's defense for centuries, to become just one more museum exhibit. Who knows? Perhaps the Lizard still lies on the bottom of the sea below Ft. Lovrijenac, looking up at its long-lasting home, as the waves above it furiosly crash on the sharp rocks.