Dubrovnik must be one of the most photographed cities in all of Europe with its unique fortress like appearance, jutting out on a rocky outcrop into the deep blue of the Adriatic Sea and its white buildings and reddish roofs.
Located on the very southern coast of Croatia, just above Montenegro, Dubrovnik has been inhabited for nearly 2000 years. Most of the current buildings and city walls date back to the 14th to 16th centuries, when Dubrovnik was one of the riches places in the Mediterranean due to its strategic location.
In the late 1970s it was given full UNESCO World Heritage site status due to its rich historic significance. On a sadder note in the early 1990s the city was caught up in the Yugoslavian wars of independence, most notably the 7 month Siege of Dubrovnik. During this time the old city received over 650 direct artillery hits, damaging many of the buildings within the city walls. The global community, led by the United Nations, funded the massive repair job to ensure all buildings were repaired as per their original style, thus maintaining the city’s architectural integrity.
The old town of Dubrovnik is a treasure trove of historic buildings, ranging from the Gothic styled Rector’s Palace, to the more Renaissance styled Sponza Palace. It seems that almost all the buildings have some type of historic significance.
My favourite was the Bell Tower Clock and Onuphrius Fountain, a massive rounded fountain that used to provide the city with all its drinking water.
The city is currently one of the key locations in HBO’s Game of Thrones and many of the city’s historic buildings and walls are featured in the series.
The main street of the old town is called the Stradun and is lined with ice cream shops, small restaurants, cafés and touristy souvenir shops. If you want a less touristy experience and more authenticity, head down one of the many side alleys where you will find restaurants and shops that the locals use. It’s also a bit cheaper than on the Stradun.
The view in almost any direction is spectacular to say the least. We must have taken over 300 photos and a heap of video that afternoon.
All in all the city walls cover just over 2 kilometres in length, range from 2 to 4 metres thick and are as high as 50 metres in some places over the ocean.
There is a system of turrets and towers strategically placed along the wall, to offer the city protection from all sides.
If you have the time, make sure you take a walk after dinner through the old part of Dubrovnik, as most of the tourists are gone and the older buildings and parts of the city walls are illuminated.
Some of the ice cream shops are open late, so grab a fresh ice cream (the liquorice ice cream is to die for) and explore Dubrovnik at night.
For the best photos of Dubrovnik, you actually need to leave the city. Either take a boat cruise out into the Adriatic or go to the top of one of the mountains surrounding the city. The view is amazing. If you have time do both! The photos from the water give a completely different perspective than from the mountains. That said both are beautiful.
Dubrovnik truly lives up to all the hype that surrounds it and is as good in real life as it is within the photographs in magazines and on travel shows. Do yourself a favour and spend some time in Dubrovnik, you won’t be disappointed.