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Dubrovnik is a city and seaport on the Adriatic shores in the Croatian region of Dalmatia, probably most known for its historic medieval fortified walls. Its name derives from dubrava, which means "oak grove". It is one of the Adriatic's most popular tourist destinations and the city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its total population is approximately 43,000.

The photos below were taken during a week-long visit to the city. Whilst it may be a popular stopping off point for cruise ships, I felt that any like-minded visitor who wishes to soak up the atmosphere as well as taking in the sights should spend an absolute minimum of three days there.

A few of the sights in the photos below are described here. The Pile City Gate is the most popular entrance into the walled city and it is overlooked by two forts; Minčeta from the north and Bokar from the south. Once through this gate, you will find yourself looking at the Onofrio Fountain, a standard meeting place for locals and tour groups alike. From there, you will find yourself on Stradun (Placa). Like all of the streets within the walled city, Stradun is pedestrian-friendly. It is effectively the main drag, with cafes, bars, shops, galleries and so forth. I found, however, the best restaurants and cafes to be located off Strandun, along the many small side streets that run off it, particularly to the North, where they run uphill. At the other end of Stradun is a square surrounded by some of the most important historical sights of the city - St Blaise's church, built in the 18th century in honour of Dubrovnik's patron saint, the City Cathedral, the Sponza Palace and the Rector’s Palace. Dubrovnik has many fine examples of late medieval and early renaissance architecture.

Because the time permitted, I found the best way to explore was by purely wandering with no pre-empted agenda - the city is fairly easy to navigate, and the highlight certainly must be walking around its perimeter on top of the walls. This is not for the feint hearted and so to get an idea of the sort of height the walls can typically reach, on the second photo, towards the top and left, you can see someone atop the walls. On this point, given the number of steps and the nature of the (sometimes hilly) streets in the city, the choice of footwear should be considered when visiting. The walls run about 2km around the city and comprise a system of turrets and towers. The views are an excellent way of seeing one of the city's other most famous attributes - the orange/red tiled roofs. A significant number of these were destroyed in 1991 when the city was besieged and shelled by the Yugoslav People's Army for seven months during the breakup of Yugoslavia. During my visit, I saw what appeared to be a nearing of completion of fitting new roof tiles throughout the city. In this respect, Dubrovnik probably hadn't looked this good for many years previously.

As well as the church being in honour of him, there are many statues around the city of Saint Blaise (Sveti Vlaho). His importance to Dubrovnik is akin to the importance of St. Mark the Evangelist in Venice. Every year on 3rd February, the city of Dubrovnik celebrates the feast of Saint Blaise (Sveti Vlaho) with Mass, parades, and festivities that go on for several days. I spent some time visiting two monasteries in the city: The city's Dominican Monastery contains an art museum and a Gothic-Romanesque church. The Franciscan Monastery, which has an extensive library and the many exhibits there include a 15th-century silver-gilt cross and silver thurible. To me, the highlight was the old pharmacy in the Franciscan Monastery. It originally opened in 1317 and is the third oldest pharmacy in all of Europe and the oldest one still in use on the continent today. It has now been in operation for over 700 years, and still dispenses (more modern) medications.

Excellent views of Dubrovnik and the surrounding area are today possible by taking a cable car to the top of the Srd Hill. The upper cable car station is located at 405 metres above sea level. During the time of my visit though, the cable car was far from operational, having been heavily damaged during the 1991 shelling. Further afield, just outside the historic city, it might be worth pointing out that this part of the Adriatic (or indeed the Mediterranean) is not known for its sandy beaches. In fact, I stumbled across one nearby spot which had a concrete beach (see photos below). As a base, the city makes for excellent day trips out to, for example, the bay of Kotor in Montenegro, the only Fjord in the Mediterranean.

To read about the history of Dubrovnik, click HERE

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