It is Lord Byron who first described Dubrovnik as the Pearl of the Adriatic. An ancient commercial and trading city, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979. It’s massive stone walls, erected from the 13th and 16th centuries, seem to rise out of the sea.
The harbor, now filled with pleasure boats, once made Dubrovnik a center of trade and commerce and brought great wealth to the region. It ws settled as early as the 7th century.
A fortress sits outside the walls of the city, protecting the harbor and its citizens from ancient dangers.
As you approach the walled city, you are greeted by ceremonial guards straight from central casting.
For many years Croatia, like many of the former Union of Socialist Soviet Republic, was nearly inaccessible to Westerners. In 1991, Croatia separated from Yugoslavia, and, as a result, Dubrovnik became embroiled in the upheaval between the Serbs and the Croats, sometimes called the Balkan wars or the Croatian War of Independence. There is little left to remind us of the Siege of Dubrovnik in 1991-1992. Most poignant is the Rooms of Remembrance for the defenders of Dubrovnik, mostly teenagers, whose images from the wall remind us of the our own children. The destruction of the city itself, while extensive, is no longer in evidence. The churches, homes and public buildings have been rebuilt and now appear untouched by war.
The walled old city includes only two hotels. One was very expensive. We stayed in the other one. While the amenities were sparse, the rooftop view made any inconvenience irrelevant. At night it was almost otherworldly.
Walking the narrow streets was an experience all to itself. Like many medieval cities, there is no motorized transportation. Walking is not the challenge, finding our way through the maze of streets to our destination, was another matter. Fortunately, there were plenty of cafes where we could sit, watch the natives and the tourists and enjoy the company of friends.