“Those who seek paradise on earth should come to Dubrovnik.” ~Bernard Shaw
Have you ever read a book or watched a movie and thought, “How creative! Where do they come up with this stuff?” Well, we figured it out. It’s not a figment of their imagination, they visited Dubrovnik, Croatia!
Nestled in the Republic of Croatia’s southernmost region, Dubrovnik is sheltered by stone walls, jagged rock cliffs, and the clear blue waters of the Adriatic Sea. Walking around the labyrinth of alleys that make up this medieval city, you will encounter marble paths, ornate fountains, inviting restaurants and shops, remarkable forts, and century-old cathedrals.
Dubrovnik, Croatia needs to be on your bucket list, and here’s why:
1. FAIRY TALE SETTING
Step back in time and stroll through one of the best preserved walled cities in the world. Its charm and enchantment is overwhelming: striking forts, imposing towers, marbled paved streets, intriguing palaces, and gated entrances with draw bridges. It’s no wonder Game of Thrones uses Dubrovnik as its backdrop for King’s Landing!
2. UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE
It’s not a surprise that Dubrovnik, saturated with history and cultural significance is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
From the World Heritage inscription: The ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’, situated on the Dalmatian coast, became an important Mediterranean sea power from the 13th century onwards. 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 program coordinated by UNESCO.
3. BRILLIANT ADRIATIC SEA
Dubrovnik is enhanced with a blaze of sapphire as it is set on the shores of the beautiful Adriatic Sea. Its crystal clear water provides a perfect spot for swimming, kayaking, fishing, snorkeling or sailing. Cliff diving is another fun activity to watch or do yourself. Etched into the side of the cliff is Buza Bar which means hole-in-the-wall. You literally have to go through the city wall to get there. It is the perfect setting to catch a few dare devils make the high jump and to also watch the sun go down.
4. AMAZING PEOPLE
Everyone in Dubrovnik is friendly and willing to carry on a conversation. Learn about the history of the city by talking with locals or ask advice on where to go next from waitstaff.
Meet Niko! He was our waiter at Bona Fide, a restaurant just off the beaten path in the heart of Dubrovnik with wonderful food and drink specials. We stopped in for a quick drink during lunch and ended up coming back for dinner because of his welcoming and patient attitude. He answered all of our annoying questions and was super helpful.
5. POMALO – TAKING IT SLOW
The Croatian greeting and mantra, pomalo, means take it easy, relax. As the sun sets, the lantern’s turn on and the restaurant and café tables fill up with people. Wine is shared along with stories and laughter. There is no rush, it seems time does not exist in Dubrovnik.
6. BREATHTAKING SUNSETS
Marvel at the golden sun melting into the horizon at dusk. It will take your breath away as you soak up the ambiance of Dubrovnik’s picturesque setting.
7. CAPTIVATING SIGHTS:
Start your day early with a walk around the city walls. It has very little shade so it is a must to get out early to explore. It provides the best views and will give you an idea of what to look forward to later in the day. Enter the walls in 3 locations – on the Stradun by Pile Gate (which is the first thing you will see if dropped off by bus or taxi), by Fort Saint John, and by the Custom House Gate.
Pile Gate, the grand entrance built in 1537, is on the western side of town consisting of two gated archways connected by a stone bridge over a moat. The patron saint of the city, St. Blaise, welcomes you to the main street from above as you walk through. The impressive Ploce Gate, built in 1449-50, is on the eastern side of town and also has a draw bridge and statue of the patron saint.
The Fort of St. Lawrence, often called “Dubrovnik’s Gibraltar,” is an 11th century fortress that lies outside the western wall of Old Town. The Venetians tried to claim the spot and erect a fortress of their own, but Dubrovnik outmaneuvered them and made one first. The inscription “Non Bene Pro Toto Libertas Venditur Auro” (“Freedom cannot be sold for all the gold of the world”) is a reminder of how vital the fortress was in defending the city.
The Stradun promenade, called Placa Street by the Croatians, is the main street of town. It runs east and west with the Pile Gate at the start of the west side and the bell tower and square on the east. The lustrous marbled street is so smooth and shiny it’s almost as if someone buffed each individual stone.
The fort was crucial in the defense of Pile Gate. Its main goal was to protect the gate bridge and the ditch from invaders. It provides splendid views of Fort Lovrijenac with a small harbor in between and also of the vast Adriatic Sea.
SAINT SAVIOUR CHURCH
The Dubrovnik people were so thankful that they were spared during the 1520 earthquake, they immediately build the St. Saviour Church in gratitude. You’ll find this Renaissance masterpiece near the Pile Gate on the west side of town.
Located next to the Pile Gate and across from St. Saviour Church is the unique fountain of Onofrio. It has stone carved masks with gushing water that runs out of their mouths. It was built in the fifteenth century and was part of a larger water supply system to provide drinking water to Dubrovnik’s citizens.
CHURCH OF ST. BLAISE
The church symbolizes St. Blaise’s salvation of the city from the Venetians. He is considered the protector and patron saint of Dubrovnik. In February every year, the town throws a massive celebration in his name with festivities that begin with a dove release and a procession of relics including the head, right hand, foot, and throat of Saint Blaise.
Dubrovnik is one of the most magical towns we have visited. It definitely needs to go on your bucket list as soon as possible!
Have you been to Dubrovnik?
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