Described by Lord Byron as “The Pearl of the Adriatic”, Dubrovnik is a stunning place to visit. Between the exciting atmosphere, striking sights and friendly locals this magnificent city, which watches out over the blue Mediterranean, is spectacular.
The walled town was founded back in the 7th century by the Romans and was protected by the Byzantine Empire between 867 and 1205. Over the years it remained largely self-governing as an independent republic and through the 16th century the city has one of the greatest merchant fleets in the Mediterranean. When Napoleon arrived in 1808 he demolished the city-republic of Dubrovnik and after 1815 the Congress of Vienna ceded the town to Austria. Following World War I the town then became part of the newly created Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, Serbian forces then bombarded the town and destroyed many sites. However, since then the city has been fully restored and reflects its magnificent history in each street, statue and subway.
One of the main sites of interest in Dubrovnik is the Old Town, where many statues and architectural pieces of art stand tall. In this area you can see Roland’s Column, a thin stone flag staff of the legendary knight, Bell Tower, with bronze statues striking the huge bell every hour, and Sponza Palace, a Gothic Renaissance palace which stood tall through 1667 city earthquake. Formerly the palace of the Major Council, Rector’s Palace is also well worth a visit, as is Old Port, where you can see cruise ships in the eastern part of the town.
A good starting place for exploring Dubrovnik is Pile Gate, which you can find at the western end of the Placa Thoroughfare in the Old Town. The nearby Fort Lovrjenac should be your first stop after this as it provides a fantastic view of both the Old Town and the infamous wall. After that you can cruise through the Old Town and arrive at Placa Stradun which is the main street in the city and is where the city really comes to life. During daylight hours there’s ample chance to explore the bright streets and alleyways, with excellent picture opportunities on each turn. During the night time you can walk through the warm air, ice lolly in hand, and admire all the brightly lit restaurants and public areas.
If you want to explore sites of religious interest then you’ll find a plethora of these in Dubrovnik. There’s Franciscan Monastery, a beautiful Baroque church with a Romanesque cloister and the third oldest pharmacy in the world, and the striking Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, which dates back from the 18th Century and was built with money donated by Richard the Lionhearted.
Equally there are ample opportunities to visit excellent museums while you’re in the city. One place you must visit is the Dubrovnik Natural History Museum, which has 100-year-old taxidermy specimens (although please note this museum is shut Saturdays and Sundays.) Your next stop on the museum hunt should be Bukovak House, which includes works by one of the most famous Croatian painters, Vlaho Bukovac, as well as works by other young artists. If you’re interested in sailing and boats then the Maritime Museum should be your next port of call, especially important to the city as both sailing and shipbuilding were vital to the growth of the Dubrovnik Republic.
To relax after all your sightseeing a good idea may be to spend some down-time relaxing on the beach. Fortunately Dubrovnik has two great beaches, Lapad Beach and Banje Beach. The former is a car free, sandy area on the Lapad Peninsular, which is around 3.5km from the city’s Old Town. There are numerous trees as well as many nearby cafes, bars, restaurants and shops. Banje Beach is a pebble beach which is closer to the Old Town- there is an entrance fee but it’s always lively and there are amazing views of the city walls and the nearby island of Lokrum.
Essentially, whatever time of year you decide to visit the city, and whatever your interests are, Dubrovnik will provide you with a fantastic time. There are top quality museums, stunning beaches and fabulous sightseeing, altogether culminating in the ultimate cultural holiday.