The steady and not so slow decline of the population inside the historic Old City walls of Dubrovnik has meant that over the past years fewer and fewer citizens call the ancient city home. From its heyday when over 6,000 people had an address inside the walls to today when that number is nearer 800 the falling population has brought a range of problems.
In 1961 there were around 5,500 people living in the city, but forty years later that number had halved, meaning that in 2001 only around 2,700 citizens lived behind the stone facades. Of course it must be taken into account that during those forty years the Homeland War of the early nineties meant that people were forced to leave their homes. However, a mere five years later, in 2006, that number had halved again to around 1,300.
Today the number is believed to be around 800, but whether this actual number is bolstered by people who are registered inside the Old City but actually live in Lapad, Gruž or another suburb is open for debate. With the city almost turning into a museum in the winter months, before the millions of tourists arrive, it is heartening to see at least some signs of life in the UNSECO World Heritage Site.
And what better way to spot the last citizens than to catch their full washing lines on a sunny day. In fact, these very washing lines are a source of attraction and interest to the international visitors that arrive every year. They clearly show that there is still life and that the city is indeed a city and not a museum.
So we have decided to celebrate the washing lines of Dubrovnik. We don’t see them as a white flag of surrender but as a multi-coloured sign of life.