10 Jan Dubrovnik of the Middle Ages
“Why is Dubrovnik so much better known as a tourist destination than Split?”, I asked our Split tour guide and resident. “They (Dubrovnik authorities) know how to market themselves better. It’s all about marketing”, he responded. Although it seems there are other factors that have contributed to Dubrovnik’s “fame”.
MV Aegean Odyssey delivered us to Dubrovnik harbour at 8am, Sunday 9th October 2016 on another wet, grey morning. Despite the heavy rain we were definitely going ahead with the scheduled tour of the old walled city.
I thought the following aerial photo (not mine) might put the old and the new Dubrovnik, plus our arrival point, into perspective. The old walled city is near the bottom right of the photo, while Dubrovnik’s harbour (where our cruise ship docked) is towards the top left. The rest of the city is, of course, the so-called new Dubrovnik, with Srd Hill in the background.
Here is a link to the licence under which I am able to use the above photograph: photohttps://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:1_dubrovnik_pano.jpg#filehistory
It was still raining when we entered the old city through this gate.
Then it was down a few stone steps (or the ramp) to walk through the inner gate. Old Dubrovnik is a “pedestrian only” city.
Just inside and to the right is the big fountain which used to provide the city’s drinking water.
Opposite the big fountain is the Church of St Saviour
We walked along the main street, named Stradun, which heads east-south-east to the City Bell Tower. Apparently this was originally not a street, but a natural creek or marsh. By reclaiming the land and building the paved street in 13th century, the north and south of the town were unified into one. It was easy for us to imagine the Stradun as a creek when we experienced a heavy downpour.
Pushing on further east along the Stradun, we took a set of stairs to the left (similar to the stairs in above photo) and then a right turn towards St Sebastian Church.
Next door to this church is the Dominican Monastery.
Maggie and I left the tour at this point and started to explore on our own.
Notice the new stone work in the art gallery wall. Repairs of this nature can be found throughout the old city. Many as a result of artillery shelling during the Siege of Dubrovnik in 1991. The simplified story of why this happened goes something like this:
Croatia, a republic within the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, declared independence in 1991. A four-year war ensued. During the war (or was it the main cause of it?) Montenegro and Serbia wanted to take Dubrovnik and environs away from Croatia. Their argument – Dubrovnik was not historically part of Croatia and had been mistakenly “given” to Croatia in 1939 when the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was formed.
I am not qualified, nor do I have the desire or audacity to make a judgment on this. However, viewing a map of the coastal area does show how unusual the division of territory is between these countries. But I also observed that Dubrovnik is happily Croatian, which perhaps it “always” was.*
Of course the 1991 war and the resulting damage to the UNESCO heritage listed old city, brought Dubrovnik into the spotlight internationally and no doubt has contributed to its importance as a tourist destination.
We found our way outside the cities eastern wall and “discovered” the old port.
Re-entering the city by another eastern gate we saw the Roman Catholic Cathedral.
Across the street and a little north from the Cathedral is the Rector’s Palace. “Rector” was the name given to the Roman Governor of a province.
And down the street to the left near the corner of the Stradun is St Blaise Church. St Blaise is the patron saint of the city of Dubrovnik.
Sponza Palace is straight ahead and currently holds the cities archives, which date back to the 12th century.
Having seen many of the cities public buildings we went up the south hill towards the sea, in search of the residential areas of the city. It may seem incongruous to go up the hill towards the sea, however the south side of the city is built on a rising headland which overlooks the sea. The city’s centre strip, running east to west and includes the Stradun, is relatively flat. But immediately north of the Stradun the city starts to rise on the side of Srd Hill.
Then it was back to the Stradun to find a cafe.
Ahhh, a chance to sit down, have a bite to eat with coffee and watch the passing parade.
Did you know Wi-Fi was invented and patented in Australia by the CSIRO in 1990’s? http://www.csiro.au/en/Research/D61/Areas/Wireless-and-networks/Wireless-broadband/WiFi
With the rain gone, a souvenir seller sets up shop.
When first entering the city earlier in the day, I was distracted by the rain and didn’t notice the city’s drawbridge.
Now outside the old city and feeling like we didn’t have a complete perspective of it, we climbed the stairs across the road to discover how much more we could see.
At this point I realised we should have taken the cable car to the top of Srd Hill. Apparently you can see for 60 kms from there on a clear day, but we’d left it too late. It was time to board our bus and return to the ship.
The late afternoon in Dubrovnik’s harbour was beautiful, offering no hint of the morning rain. We rested, dried our clothes and soaked up the atmosphere while awaiting the return of another tour group.
Only four days into the cruise and we had already seen so much, with far more to come. Brindisi was our next port, on the “heel” of Italy, for a tour of the old city of Lecce. I love the pronunciation of this place, but there is so much more to like about it.
Please tell your family and friends about our Voyage to Antiquity and the next exceptional (or maybe not), perhaps even enjoyable, episode of alistairstravel. And feel free to leave a comment or follow this blog.
Dovidjenja. Nadam se da ću te uskoro vidjeti.
*From the inception of what it means to be Croatian