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A lot of things have been written about Dubrovnik, the gorgeous pearl of the Adriatic. But whatever is said always seems insufficient, as people strive to learn more about this ancient city. Its astonishing views of the crystal-clear sea, its ancient defense walls and the vibe which flows through its streets remain in the memory forever.

Without exaggeration, Dubrovnik is one of the best tourist sites to visit in the world. This claim is backed by the city’s constant presence on “top destination” lists and reflected upon by hundreds of writers, journalists and bloggers worldwide. It’s became a synonym for a dream come true for a dedicated traveller. And while the hype brings increasing hordes of tourists every year, the old town refuses to surrender its charm and takes care that every soul feels comfortable inside its walls. Its restaurants, inns, hotels and konoba-taverns also help to achieve this.

An Old Town

According to recent archaeological theories, Dubrovnik was founded by the Greeks in the 7th Century (at the same time, Croats also began settling in the country). It became a city-state known as Ragusa, a prominent figure in Adriatic affairs. The idea of liberty was very precious to its citizens – the word “Libertas” was inscribed on its official banner. Even the slave trade, a very fruitful business at the time, was abolished as early as 1418 here.

However, history gave many challenges to the Ragusian Republic, as its people had to balance between mighty Venice and the even mightier Ottoman Empire. After them, the Austro-Hungarians came, and the city was even occupied by Napoleon’s armies.

Despite being an independent state, Ragusa was culturally always Croatian soil.  Because of playwright Marin Drzic, often nicknamed the “Adriatic Shakespeare”, Dubrovnik is seen as one of the cradles of Croatian literature.  At the beginning of the 20th century, the city was incorporated into the then existing kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenians. After the Second World War, it became part of Yugoslavia, and when that state collapsed, it finally became official Croatian territory.

Forts and walls – to defend and impress

There are many sites in Dubrovnik which impress. From Orlando’s column and its statue of an armoured knight to luxurious buildings such as Sponza Palace, every inch of the city is a perfect backdrop for any shot you take with your camera. Its ancient defence grid is probably its most famous feature.

Dubrovnik’s power and influence peaked in the 15th century, and this is when the well-known ramparts were raised. Their quality was proven when a huge earthquake struck the republic in 1667 and they were left intact. Today, these defense walls provide a magnificent view of the city, as well as the surrounding sea and the supposedly cursed island of Lokrum. The entrance fee for adults is 70 HRK/ 9.20 €, but students get a considerable price cut and pay only 30 HRK / 4.00 €.

To the south-east, a defensive grid was formed in the 14th century, but upgraded to a fort two centuries later. It was named St. John’s. Today, its ground level houses a city Aquarium.

Outside the city walls, the old fort of Lovrjenac proudly guards the naval perimeter of Dubrovnik. It was a living nightmare to all invaders planning an attack on the city. On its gates, an inscription in Latin was engraved saying “Freedom is not to be sold, even for all the fortunes of the world.” But today, soldiers abandoned the site and left it for the actors.  Situated on a 40-meter sea cliff, Lovrijenac often hosts theatrical performances, especially during Dubrovnik Summer Fest. Other forts transformed into theatres include Revelin, Minceta and Bokar.

Museum heaven

It is often said that Dubrovnik itself is a large museum. And this is not a false statement. But apart from that, it also hosts a considerable number of real museum spaces. They can also be found in strange places. For example, Rupe Etnographic Museum (Od Rupa 3) is located in a 16th-century granary. The Maritime Museum is located on the first two floors of St. John’s Fort, while Rector’s  Palace houses the Cultural Historical Museum.

The people of Dubrovnik were fond of religion, and invested a lot of craft in their sacral tradition. While visiting the baroque Katedrala Marijina Uznesenja (Assumption of the Virgin Mary Cathedral), take a look at its fruitful treasury. Franciscan and Dominican museums also exist, as well as one belonging to Sigurata Convent.

During the Croatian War of Independence, Dubrovnik was heavily shelled by the Serbian military. However, they were unable to break its defences. Two museum spaces are dedicated to this era of country’s history – The Memorial Room of Dubrovnik Defenders hosts pictures of soldiers who gave their life for the town’s safety. The Museum of Croatian War of Independence exhibits various items related to the conflict.

In 1996, Ronald Brown, USA Trade Minister, died in a plane crash near Dubrovnik. To commemorate the loss of such an important person who perished during a peace mission, the people of Dubrovnik dedicated a memorial house to his honor, featuring the paintings of Antun Maslo, Ivo Dulcic and Duro Pulitika.

More than sights

Dubrovnik offers a lot of historical value, but it doesn’t stop there. The city’s beaches provide much needed refreshment during the summer months. Numerous excursions introduce visitors to the surrounding nature (especially those featuring boat rides).

Dubrovnik is also a home to strong kayaking, scuba diving and yachting scenes. Sport-loving visitors will value its tennis courts and clubs, and everyone will love a time spent in the city’s wellness centers.

No guide could do justice to Dubrovnik’s beauty. In order to understand it in its pure form, you will simply have to visit the old city. It awaits you with a smile on its walls.

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