Dubrovnik is a Croatian city on the Adriatic Sea, in the region of Dalmatia. It is one of the most prominent tourist destinations in the Mediterranean Sea, a seaport and the center of Dubrovnik-Neretva County. Its total population is 42,615 (census 2011). In 1979, the city of Dubrovnik joined the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.
The prosperity of the city was historically based on maritime trade; as the capital of the maritime Republic of Ragusa, it achieved a high level of development, particularly during the 15th and 16th centuries, as it became notable for its wealth and skilled diplomacy.
The beginning of modern tourism is associated with the construction of the Hotel Imperial in Dubrovnik in 1897. According to CNNGo, Dubrovnik is among the 10 best preserved medieval walled cities in the world. Although it was demilitarised in the 1970s to protect it from war, in 1991, after the breakup of Yugoslavia, it was besieged by the Serb and Montenegrin soldiers gathered in the Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) for seven months and suffered significant damage from shelling.
George Bernard Shaw was enchanted by this beautiful city, about which he said “those who seek paradise on Earth should come to Dubrovnik”, as well as, famously, describing it as “the pearl of the Adriatic”.
We arrived into Dubrovnik just after dawn on our cruise ship M.S. Nieuw Amsterdam and had a whole day to explore this fascinating ancient city. We wanted to start by taking a walk around one of the key features of the city which are the walls which surround the old part of the city and which gave a wonderful perspective of the city and the surrounding ocean.
These walls run almost 2 km (1.24 mi) around the city. The walls run from four to six metres (13.2 to 19.8 feet) thick on the landward side but are much thinner on the seaward side. The system of turrets and towers were intended to protect the vulnerable city. The walls of Dubrovnik have also been a popular filming site for the fictional city of King’s Landing in the HBO television series, Game of Thrones.
Although severely damaged by an earthquake in 1667, Dubrovnik managed to preserve its beautiful Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque churches, monasteries, palaces and fountains. Damaged again in the 1990s by armed conflict, it is now the focus of a major restoration programme co-ordinated by UNESCO.
Walking around the top of the walls provides a great vantage point to appreciate the beautiful architecture of the old buildings and churches and offers many spectacular views out over the Adriatic Sea.
As we reached the far end of the walk along the walls we came to the harbour area and we could smell the wonderful aroma of cooked seafood from the restaurants below. This was an ideal prompt to climb down to street level and sample some of the wonderful local fresh seafood for lunch.
After an excellent lunch we continued to explore the small streets of Dubrovnik which were fascinating to walk through with interesting shops, restaurants, churches and squares. The stonework and tiled streets were beautiful and added some real historic character to the place.
There were many small, steep lanes running up from the street level area up the hill and these were a real joy to walk up if you had the energy. These small lanes were mostly residential areas with many lovely plants and shrubs planted outside but there were also a few shops and some restaurants tucked away.
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