Once an important Mediterranean trading post, Dubrovnik, or Ragusa as it was once known, still bears the marks of its rich and varied history. Nicknamed the ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’, this magnificent Croatian city suffered a severe earthquake in 1667, yet its numerous Medieval Gothic, Baroque, and Renaissance edifices have been lovingly restored and rebuilt over time, allowing visitors to Dubrovnik to experience this Old City in its near-pristine glory.
Photo Credit: Stewart Morris http://www.flickr.com/photos/stewartmorris/3992425337/
In fact, the Old City of Dubrovnik is one of the best-preserved examples of a Medieval walled city to be found anywhere in the world, and in 1979 was given UNESCO World Heritage Site status. Dubrovnik’s fortifications date back to the 7th century, a considerable time before the city became a maritime post from the 13th century onwards.
Photo Credit: Jennifer Boyer http://www.flickr.com/photos/jenniferboyer/6250533452/
There are four entrances through the city walls to Dubrovnik, the two main ones being the Pila Gate to the east (pictured), and the Ploča Gate to the west. It’s still possible to enter the walls too, and walk along them to take in the views over Dubrovnik, and the Mediterranean ocean that meets the city at its elegant, yacht-lined harbour.
Photo Credit: Roger Smith http://www.flickr.com/photos/44544845@N08/8482659717/
As you stroll along the stone-paved streets of Dubrovnik you will discover a beautiful historic building at almost every turn, but there are some highlights that are worth taking the time to seek out. The Rector’s Palace, which was almost completely destroyed during the earthquake, has been reconstructed as an amalgamation of Gothic, Renaissance and even Baroque architecture – the result of numerous architects, each with a different aesthetic, lending their vision to the restoration efforts over the centuries.
Photo Credit: Alistair Young http://www.flickr.com/photos/ajy/2973152450/
Another of the Dubrovnik’s main attractions is situated close to the Pila Gate – the 14th century Franciscan Monastery, an enormous Romanesque-Gothic complex that runs along a principal street in the city and sprawls out to the north. Recognisable by its domed tower, what stands now of the Monastery is only what was rebuilt after the entire complex succumbed to the earthquake, yet there is still much to discover during a visit here, including the Old Pharmacy which dates back to 1317 and remains the oldest working pharmacy in Europe.
Photo Credit: Bildungsr0man http://www.flickr.com/photos/fakeplasticgirl/4788384864/
Also a short distance from the Pila Gate, and just beside the Franciscan Monastery is the Onophrian Fountain, an elaborate and historic water feature that previously was used as the main water reservoir for the city.
Photo Credit: Nats Grant Logan http://www.flickr.com/photos/natsgrant/333147346/
You could spend many days seeking out the historic churches, monasteries and palaces that are situated around the Old City of Dubrovnik itself, but one of the most beguiling attractions can be found just outside the western walls. The Lovrijenac Fortress, affectionately known also as ‘Dubrovnik’s Gibraltar’ played an important part in defending the city from Venetian rule, yet is now used as a theatre at which visitors can see Shakespeare plays in an astounding setting.
Photo Credit: Santi http://www.flickr.com/photos/smb_flickr/4691521904/
Yet in spite of Dubrovnik’s numerous historical sites, the Old City has a distinctively cosmopolitan feel that has made it a favourite with holidaymakers from across Europe and beyond. Affordable flights to Dubrovnik make this city the perfect destination for a weekend city break in the sunshine that’s filled with culture, and where you can spend your day ticking off the sights, and your evenings watching the sun set beyond the city walls from a fashionable rooftop bar.
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