Soaring high above the Stradun, the Clock Tower is a magnificent landmark of the old town. Located at Luza Square which served as the market area many years ago, it is adjacent to the Sponza Palace and faces Sveti Vlaho (Saint Blaise) Church, the patron Saint of Dubrovnik. The Clock Tower overlooks Orlando’s Column with its white Libertas flag waving in the wind.
Construction began for the 31-meter high tower in 1444. Two wooden men were designed to strike the bell and were later replaced by the two bronze figures, named “Maro” and “Baro” by the local residents. As the years passed, the bronze figures became tinted green from the salt air of the Adriatic. With this physical change came the name of “Zelenci” which means green men.
During the 18th century, the well-worn clock and mechanics fell into disrepair. A Franciscan brother repaired the clock hands, forming them into the current “Octopus”, along with the bronze sphere showing the phases of the moon.
After several severe earthquakes, the clock tower began to lean. A former Dubrovnik
resident living in Chile sent funds to repair the tower in 1928. At that time the original bronze bell from 1506 was returned to its place of honor atop the tower. The scaffolding was removed the day before Sveti Vlaho Day on 2 February 1929, and the town residents celebrated. For more than 100 years, the same family has maintained the clock tower mechanism, a tradition passed down for generations.
The original bronze jacks had suffered much damage over the years and replicas were installed during the time the originals went through intensive work restoring their original beauty. The restoration took more than 5 years and finally the Zelenci are back in Dubrovnik at the Rectors Palace for all who visit to admire.
Every afternoon at Noon the bell begins to chime and disturbs the pigeons that flock in Gundulic Square, located just behind Sveti Vlaho Church. Children squeal in delight as the pigeons hover overhead as kernels of corn are strewn about the square. The sounds of the Zelenci striking the antique bell are strong with pride, a Dubrovnik tradition for the last several hundred years.