Things to see and do - Dubrovnik
Leaving for Croatia
Dubrovnik, pearl of the Adriatic :
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Dubrovnik, pearl of the Adriatic
Dubrovnik, pearl of the AdriaticPedestrian, 4 km, 1 day
Dramatically damaged by the bombings in the early 90s, Dubrovnik has dressed its wounds and remains one of the most magical and romantic cities in Europe. Once you’ve explored the islands of the Adriatic, you must spend a couple of days in this city of marble, closed to cars, everything is done foot ...Customise this route and add it to My travel book
This gate is a reminder of the time when the city was locked every evening and only Catholics were allowed to remain inside the city walls. At the time a drawbridge (still intact and guarded by a statue of St Blaise, the town's patron saint, who carries a plan of the town in his hand) was drawn up and the gates were locked every evening. The circular turret with an outer door is Renaissance in style (1537). The inner gate (1460) is Gothic and also crowned by a statue of the patron saint (more modern).
The main entrance is near the Pile gate. Start your 2km tour by heading towards the sea. Admire the row of façades and the round-tiled roofs which have made Dubrovnik famous. Note the church towers of the Franciscan convent and Dominican monastery, and the domes of St Ignatius. Pass by the first square tower, which was added in the 14C, along with a dozen others, to the defence system. Moving on towards the port, reflect on how vulnerable the wall was at this point, with its two gates affording access to the city.
A tour of the fortifications is an excellent occasion to admire the harmonious façades and incomparable roofs of round tiles that are at the heart of Dubrovnik's reputation. It also provides a chance to get a closer look at the town's defensive system, of which the most remarkable elements are the Fort of St John, the harbour defences (tvrdava sv. Ivan) and the inland fortifications and Minceta tower (tvrdava Minceta).
A stretch of sea before it was filled in in the 11C, this road links the town's two gates. Built in a sober Baroque style, its splendid architectural unity is the result of the earthquake of 1667 when the town's authorities imposed the choice of materials (Dalmatian white stone) and the height of the façades. Its shops and café terraces make it highly popular both with the inhabitants and with tourists.
This lively street lined with restaurants is the main thoroughfare of the most recent part of the old town, corresponding to the old Croatian village which was entirely remodelled after the earthquake of 1667. Each house is built on the same model (well on the ground-floor and kitchen on the top floor). Raise your eyes and admire the beautiful façades (particularly N°12, 17 and 24) and the lanes which lead up to the ramparts, dotted with luxuriant plants (ficus, philodendron, etc.) and washing lines.
Take the time to explore the old port with the 14C fort of St John which defended the entrance and is now home to the Maritime Museum, its high arcades, formerly shipyards and its modest pier. From the far end, you can see the promontory which used to serve as a breakwater, as well as the imposing structure of the town's fortifications.
Named after the loggia next-door to the famous Sponza Palace, Loggia Square was formerly the market square. In its centre stands Orlando's column (Orlandov stup), carved with an effigy of Roland who is said to have rescued Dubrovnik from the Arabs. The statue, built in 1418, used to serve as a unit of measurement: the length of the forearm (51.2cm) was known as the "Raguse elbow" and in its base are notches in the stone to measure goods. The Clock Tower, built in 1444 and reconstructed in 1929, completes the square.
The arcaded gallery of this palace immediately catches the eye; it was formerly home to the customs and minting works of the Republic of Raguse. Today the municipal archives are stored here, some of which date back to 1022. The striking façade is a junction between Gothic and Renaissance styles. As it is one of the rare buildings to have survived the earthquake of 1667, it gives the visitor an idea of the opulence of the palaces of the era. To the rear of the courtyard are the old mechanism of the town clock and a memorial to the Croatian soldiers of 1991-92.
This copy of the St Ignatius of Rome was designed by the Roman architect Andrea Pozzo from 1699. Its style is fully characteristic of the Counter Reformation (curves, columns, pilasters, pediments, dome, moulding and inner cornices). The opulent frescoes (1735-37) are the work of the Sicilian Gaetano Garcia. To the left, note the grotto of Lourdes (unusual in a church and in 1885, one of the first examples of this style in Europe). It bears witness to the importance of the Virgin for the Jesuits.
This tiny island rich in dense vegetation lies opposite the walled city. In 1023, the Benedictines founded a monastery here. Closed during the Napoleonic occupation, it was replaced in 1859 by Maximilian of Habsburg's summer residence and a botanic garden was planted with exotic plants. The French were responsible for the royal fort (1806) which commands a fine view of Dubrovnik to the north-west. The island's rocky coastline is equipped with countless ladders for bathers, but it doesn't have a beach.