Within tall and strong medieval walls lies one of the most beautiful coastal cities of Europe. Some call it the ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’, although I think that sounds too much like a tacky cruise liner to really do it justice. Let’s just call it for the name that evokes enough wonder these days – Dubrovnik.
The Croatian city has become a huge tourist town and it’s easy to see why. Stepping through the large stone entranceway, through the fortified walls, you suddenly find yourself in what could be a section of a theme park or a Las Vegas casino. Smooth marble floors; fountains spurting water from stone mouths; cafes lining the pedestrian-only streets; and beautiful churches and towers in panorama.
There are no cars in the old city and little alleyways run off the main boulevards. They’re filled with restaurants, shops, old homes and photo opportunities. It would be easy to get lost except it is mainly in a grid pattern. Not that getting lost would be unpleasant – everything is so gorgeous in Dubrovnik. At night it’s even more spectacular, and I have to look closely at the stars to make sure they’re not painted on a ceiling.
Although Dubrovnik was founded in the 7th century, it didn’t really hit its stride until the 13th century and it reached its peak in the 15th and 16th centuries. The architecture styles show a mixture of medieval, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque.
The area was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1979 but that didn’t spare it from damage during the conflict in the Balkans during the 1990s. A general from the Yugoslav People’s Army was sentenced by the International Criminal Tribunal for his role in the siege of Dubrovnik and the destruction of heritage-protected buildings in the Old City. After the war, UNESCO put in a lot of effort to help restore the city.
As part of my week of World Heritage Sites in Europe, I would now like to share some photos of what is officially called the ‘Old City of Dubrovnik’.