Dubrovnik is a stunningly intact walled city on the Adriatic Sea coast of the extreme south of Croatia. The city of Dubrovnik was built on maritime trade. In the Middle Ages it became the only city-state in the Adriatic to rival Venice. Supported by its wealth and skilled diplomacy, the city achieved a remarkable level of development during the 15th and 16th centuries. Furthermore, Dubrovnik was one of the centers of the development of the Croatian language and literature, home to many notable poets, playwrights, painters, mathematicians, physicists and other scholars.
Today Dubrovnik is the proudest feather in Croatia’s tourist cap, an elite destination and one of the most beautiful towns in the Mediterranean. It is steeped in stunning architecture and sculptural detail, and boasts spectacular churches, monasteries, museums, and fountains. Here are the top 6 things to do in Dubrovnik, Croatia:
- The City Walls – The first thing you’ll see as you approach Dubrovnik from the sky or the sea is the city walls. These ancient fortifications were built and rebuilt in the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries as the threat of Turkish invaders grew. At some points, the walls are almost 20 feet thick and 82 feet high. They enclose the entire Old Town, protected by strategically placed forts and towers. Atop the city walls, you’ll enjoy some of the best views of Dubrovnik’s tiled-roof buildings and the blue sea. During the Summer Festival, Shakespeare plays and other performances take place in some of the forts along the wall.
- The Old Town – The walls contain Dubrovnik’s historic sites such as the Franciscan Monastery, Rector’s Palace and Dubrovnik Cathedral. Even new attractions like the War Photo Limited are squeezed into this dense area.
Dubrovnik Cable Car – The original Dubrovnik cable cars shut down in 1991 after the town sustained heavy bombing. But in the summer of 2010, nearly 20 years later, the cable car triumphantly returned during the Summer Festival — the city’s largest event. The company’s websiteclaims to offer “the best views of Dubrovnik and the surrounding area … from the top of the Srd Hill. The cars rise about 450 meters above sea level in just three minutes; the cable cars are open for rides from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. during the high season. The operation shuts down much earlier in the low season and in bad weather.
Rector’s Palace – Also known as the Dubrovnik Museum, Rector’s Palace isn’t what you think of when you imagine a monarch’s residence. Perhaps, that’s because each rector only lived there for one-month stints at time. This system was in place in the Dubrovnik republic until 1806, when Napoleonic forces ended its sovereignty. Now, you can explore the halls of this public palace. The internal courtyard stands as the most memorable feature, but there is also the city museum on the second floor. Here, you’ll find antique furniture and works from local artists.
Dubrovnik Cathedral – Dubrovnik Cathedral, or the Church of the Assumption, is actually the third church built on the site. The first, a Byzantine-style building, was constructed in the 6th and 7th centuries, before a Romanesque church replaced it in the 12th century. Then, the 1667 earthquake wrecked the structure. The final incarnation assumed the Baroque fashion soon after. Aside from the architecture, the artwork is of particular note, which includes Titian’s The Assumption at the main altar.
Franciscan Monastery – This Franciscan Monastery has operated continually for almost 700 years. Even more fascinating, the monastery houses the third-oldest functioning pharmacy in Europe. The museum portion of the pharmacy has antique laboratory equipment, tools and medical literature. In 1667, an incredibly destructive earthquake almost brought down the entire complex; all that remained was the church portal. One highlight is the 14th-century cloisters with ornate columns that have unique faces on the capitals.