After boarding the Royal Caribbean’s Rhapsody of the Seas, we waited for the evening departure and then enjoyed a trip down the Adriatic coast to the Croatian city of Dubrovnik.
Although Mrs Nice and myself have travelled extensively all over Europe, we had never travelled the Adriatic coast or visited any of the Balkan states. Therefore it with some excitement that we looked forward to walking around the old town of Dubrovnik.
Dubrovnik was previously known as Ragusa and was founded in the 7th century, its position on the Adriatic coast had led to the city being a valuable port which have been fought over for centuries. In 12th and 13th centuries, Dubrovnik became a commercial centre which was for a while came under the sovereignty of Venice. Between the 14th century and 19th century, Dubrovnik ruled itself as a free state, although it paid tribute to the Ottoman Empire.
The city suffered a catastrophic earthquake of 1667 which killed over 5,000 people and in 1806, the city surrendered to the Napoleonic army. Later, power was taken by the Austrian Empire until 1918, and then the city was incorporated into the newly formed Yugoslavia in 1929. During World War II, Dubrovnik became part of the Nazi ruled Independent State of Croatia, occupied by the Italian army and German army. In 1944, Yugoslav Partisans occupied Dubrovnik and became part of the Socialist Republic of Croatia and Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
In 1979, the unique nature of city was recognised and was included on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. Unfortunately, the city’s new status did not prevent it being attacked in 1990s with the fall of Yugoslavia and the following Balkan conflict.
Dubrovnik’s complex history lays before you as you enter the Old Town through Pile Gate, the main street known as Stradun takes you into the town amongst the old buildings and shops. Just inside the entrance is the Onofrio Fountain, built-in 1438 and many people look around for a way to get onto the old city walls.
You walk up a staircase to get onto the walls, halfway is an entrance office where you buy a ticket, the cost of admission is 100 HRK (kuna) which is about £18 and must be paid in local currency (kuna). Be aware, the ticket office does not accept pounds, euros or dollars.
Over one million visitors walk the wall each year, the wall runs almost 2 kilometres (1.2 miles) around the city with a series of turrets and towers connected by long walkways. The walls of Dubrovnik are a popular filming location, well-known to the fans of the television series, Game of Thrones.
As we made our way onto the walls, the grey skies created a very atmospheric scene and we looked at the rough seas crashing at the bottom of the cliff underneath Tvrdava Bokar, a massive fortress built-in the 15th century.
The Old Town has fortresses at its four corners, which are the Minceta Tower, Revelin Fortress, St John’s Fortress, and Bokar Bastion. Inside of the old city, you look down on the hundreds of buildings with their brightly coloured new roofs. The churches and cathedral push up to create a wonderful panorama.
The width of the walkways vary from wide to quite narrow, but fortunately the less than wonderful weather did mean that the windswept walls were relatively quiet. It is worth wearing decent shoes to get up the often steep walkways and the walk is quite strenuous with lots of walks up steep steps.
However, you are rewarded with wonderful views especially over the old harbour that overlooks the wooded island of Lokrum in the bay.
As the rain descended, so did we and found a small café to have a warming cup of coffee. The old town itself was full of interesting steep little alleys and plenty of shops and museums. Near the Onofrio Fountain is a Franciscan Monastery, the Orlando Column, the Church of St. Blaise and the fascinating Rector’s Palace is now a city museum.
We entered the cathedral and an old building with a few paintings and reminders of those that fell in defence in the latest conflict to plague the city.
Since, the 1990s and early 2000s, Dubrovnik has re-emerged as one of the top tourist destinations in the Mediterranean. In fact it has become a victim of its own success and the city is taking steps to reduce the excessive number of tourists, especially in the Old Town.
Dubrovnik especially within the Old Town Walls offers a fascinating snapshot of the region’s complex history. It spectacular location and original architecture has made it very popular especially with cruise ships. As we made our way back to the ship, we both thought we would like to come back to the city and discover more of its delights and the area around the bay.
Old Fogies Travels are the adventures of two elderly Londoners (The Old Fogies) as they explore their home town and travel around the world looking out for the strange, unusual and absurd.
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