With its thick medieval walls, massive gates and soaring battlements, Dubrovnik, on the southern coast of Croatia offers an immersive experience into the past. Nicknamed the ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’ the beautifully preserved city has long been the country’s star tourist destination. Dubrovnik was founded in the 7th century and is today home Croatia’s artist and intellectual elite, the city offers numerous cultural activities and festivals.
TOP 8 PLACES TO VISIT
1.DUBROVNIK’S OLD HARBOUR
Two breakwaters built from massive stones pilled on wooden foundations, the Proporela built in 1873 and Kase built in 1485 protects the Old Port. Forts were constructed around the perimeter of the harbor to guard the city’s ship, but today the Old Port is both a tourist attraction as well as a departure point for cruises to the beaches on nearby Lokrum Island. The Porporela with its built-in benches is a popular place to take a stroll and watch the sun set or rise.
2.THE OLD CITY WALLS
Built in the 10th century and modified in the 13th and 14th century the Old Walls is Dubrovnik’s best known feature. The up to six meters thick and 6 meters high walls protected the city against invaders. It is a great spot for a casual stroll and spectacular views. Other highlights include its two towers, the Minceta Tower and the Bokar Tower, along with two forts, the Lovrjenac Fort and the Revelin Fort.
3.DUBROVNIK CABLE CAR
During the Summer Festival, the city’s largest event the cable car was reopened after it was shut down in 1991 after sustaining heavy bombing. The cars rise about 450 meters above sea level in just three minutes; the cable cars are open for rides from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. during the high season. The operation shuts down much earlier in the low season and in bad weather. The best views of Dubrovnik and the surrounding area can be seen from the cable car.
The monastery is the oldest still-opening pharmacy in Europe and is located near the Pile Gate at Stradun’s west end. The original construction was mostly destroyed during the 1667 earthquake, but the Romanesque cloister and gardens are much the same as they were 500 years ago. A 1498 crafted ornately portal is on display as well. Other highlights are a collection of rare books and art objects, herbal lotions and potions made from centuries-old recipes. The lotions and potions are available for purchase from the 14th-century pharmacy.
5.DUBROVNIK CATHEDRAL AND TREASURY
Designed in Baroque style by Andrea Buffalini of Rome, the cathedral is standing on the site of an older cathedral dating from the 6th century which was destroyed by earthquakes. Notable for its three aisles, three apses, and splendid interior décor, the cathedral includes highlights such as paintings by Italian and Dalmatian artists from the 16th to 18th centuries, including Virgin of the Chair by Raphael from the early 1600s. Highlights is the famous portion of relics of the cross Jesus is thought to have been crucified upon, the head, leg and arm of St. Blaise dating from the 13th century and a splendid display of 138 gold and silver reliquaries from around the world.
The gate built in 1537 is the busiest entrance to Dubrovnik (it is actually two gates in one) – featuring an arch built into a semi-circular fortification. The 15th century inner gate ornamented by a statue of St. Blaise leads visitors to the Stradun. The drawbridge before the double gate is no longer pulled up at night and is now open 24/7. Dressed in period costume the locals sometime poses as guards for photo opportunities.
7.DUBROVNIK’S GIBRALTAR: FORT LOVRIJENAC
The fort is one of Croatia’s most important fortresses and is located outside the city’s western wall. The impressive 37 meters above the Adriatic fortress proved impregnable during the many sieges undertaken by the Venetians from its completion in the 11th century onwards. The fort is notable for its unusual triangular layout with its three terraces, Fort Lovrijenac - is accessed via two drawbridges and a gateway through its impressive walls. The fort is also used as a venue and backdrop for Dubrovnik's famous Summer Festival and its many theatrical and musical performances.
Serving as home to the Rector of the Republic during his term of office, it is also a meeting place for the city’s governing bodies, an armory, a prison and the local lock-up. The palace is notable in that it manages to blend Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque elements into a unified whole. The palace is also home to the Cultural History Museum. The palace has been decorated with period furnishings to recreate the styles of the original rooms.
OTHER PLACES TO SEE
Dubrovnik has a superb bus service; buses run frequently and generally on time. Other transport is by bus, taxi, uber, rent a car, boat or by foot.
The best time to visit Dubrovnik is September and October, when temperatures aren't stifling hot yet most of the cruise ships have abandoned the port. The water remains warm for these two months, so it's a great time to dip into the sea rather than your savings.