Aramcon Travel: In Dubrovnik, a journey through history
From beaches to ancient walls to the heart of the city, this is the perfect place to get lost in.
Eulogized by Lord Byron as “The Pearl of the Adriatic,” and described by a young George Bernard Shaw as an earthly paradise, and hammered by artillery in the Croatian War of Independence, hardy Dubrovnik is a laid-back coastal town with a tumultuous history, breathtaking architecture, and a gorgeous seaside landscape that makes it the most popular destination in the Balkans.
With ancient walls and orange roofs, rocky beaches with turquoise seas, Dubrovnik’s Old Town is the historical center and the heart of the city, a perfect place to explore and to simply get lost in.
The “Stradun” is the main street that stretches the whole length of Old Town. Paved in 1468, the limestone underfoot has taken on a mirrored, marble-like quality from centuries of use. Also notable is the symmetry of the buildings lining either side, equal in size and dimension.
A side step off the main thoroughfare will take you to a 700-year-old apothecary hidden inside a 14th century Franciscan monastery. There, they preserve more than 2,000 recipes, from quite ordinary drugs to secret poisons and potions.
When the sun begins to set, take a walk along the ancient city walls that have protected the city from invaders throughout history. From above, the views of several medieval fortresses and the open sea beyond are amazing.
Located in the center of Old Town, there’s the Rector’s Palace: an outstanding monument of secular architecture. It was once the seat of the government and today is the most important public building.
To see Dubrovnik from above, hike to the top of Mount Srd. The top of Srd overlooks the city and the Adriatic. At the top, you will find an old structure called Fort Imperial, built by the French in the early 1800s to help with the city’s defense during the Napoleonic Wars.
Visitors to Dubrovnik will find many beaches to explore. Close to the harbor there’s Banje Beach, the most popular pebble beach with a stunning view of Old Town. For something more isolated, Pasjača is a narrow, pebble beach with a stunning setting at the base of a sheer cliff. It is accessed by a longish pathway, which tunnels through the rock in places, with steps to the beach. A little east of Old Town there is Betina Cave beach, protected by strong vaults of the rocky coast.
There are two entrances to Old Town: through the “Pile and Ploce Gates.” Pile is also known as the site of the Lovrijenac Fortress, a magnificent 11th century fort perched on a bare rock overlooking the Adriatic Sea. The fort is detached from the main city and it is one of the most impressive sights of Dubrovnik. The eastern gate, Ploce, offers easy access to the charming Old Town port, from where you can catch a boat ride to the nearby Lokrum island.
Lokrum, a mysterious island directly across from Old Town, is also worth a visit. A mere 10-minute ferry journey away, it plays host to exotic vegetation, a colony of peacocks, pristine beaches, and the ruins of a Benedictine monastery.
A visit to Dubrovnik is a journey through history. Watching its marble walls take on different shades throughout the day, and feeling the breeze that wafts from the top of its walls, is a memory that will stay with you for a lifetime.
Caption for top photo: Looking down upon Dubrovnik from Mount Srd.