Overnight we sailed 240 nautical miles south to Dubrovnik, Croatia. We weren’t scheduled to dock until 9am, so it was actually light as we sailed in.
This may look like a pirate ship, but I suspect it’s a “prop” for the Game of Thrones, much of which is filmed in Dubrovnik.
We docked at the new port of Gruz which sits in the shadow of the Franjo Tudman Bridge (named after Croatia’s first president). The bridge was planned in the early 90’s but was delayed about 10 years due to the Croatian war. It was finally completed in 2002 at a cost of 250 million Kuna (about $50 million Canadian) making it Croatia’s most expensive bridge to date.
We disembarked as soon as we could (trying to get ahead of the crowds) and grabbed a taxi to the old town. This was our first sight of the fortifications of the old city.
Much of Dubrovnik was destroyed in the war. Below is the map of the damage caused by the bombing and to the right is the “key”.
As you can see by the map – one side of the old city was more heavily damaged than the other.
We headed in through the Pile Gate, paid our entrance fee and climbed the 100 or so very steep steps to the wall.
Dubrovnik is known for it’s old city and the massive stone walls that surround it. The city walls stretch about 2 km (1.2 miles) and reach a maximum height of 82′. Once you’re up there it’s not flat my any means; there is a lot of up and down. You have to walk counter-clockwise, so our walk began along the Dalmatian Sea.
Fort Lovrijenac perches on the cliff; it’s sole purpose was to protect the city.
The brighter red roofs are new, replacing those damaged or destroyed in the war; the ones that look more brownish escaped unscathed. In the forefront are the remains of a bombed out building.
It’s easy to see why this is such a popular destination. The ship’s daily newsletter called Dubrovnik “one of the Mediterranean’s best kept destination secrets”. I think the secret is out…
The fort is triangular in shape, with the narrowest part facing the city and the longest part of the wall facing the walled city.
Looking down from the wall into a quiet courtyard where this local lady was ready for the tourists to arrive.
This would have been a lovely spot for a glass of wine, but it was a little early. Beautiful views and the island of Lokrum.
This is the Buza Bar. The entrance is literally a hole in the wall of the Sv. Stjepan (St. Stephen) bastion; you can see the doorway below. Our plan was to try and find this place after walking the wall.
St. Blaise is the patron saint of Dubrovnik. There are numerous statues of him “protecting” Dubrovnik, this one was on the Sv. Stjepan bastion.
Some more views from the wall – looking back towards the Pile Gate and the Minceta tower.
It’s not just a tourist spot, people actually live and work within the walled city.
The walls range from 5 to 16 feet thick. The thicker walls are on the land side while the sea side walls are thinner. This was a thin wall!
It’s very sad to still see the damage from the war…
I loved the symmetry of the roof tiles…
The 3 storey structure is the Sv Ivan Tower, standing guard over the old Harbour. It now houses the aquarium and a maritime museum.
This area sustained heavy damage in the war, most of the roofs are new.
Looking back at the Pile gate and the fort, with the bell tower of the Franciscan Monastery in the foreground
It seems odd to see a basketball court here, but as I said earlier, people do live here.
We made it back to the Pile Gate, time to head down and face the crowds.
The Italian influence is very apparent here, there were Pizzeria’s everywhere! As in Venice, once you get off the main street its much less crowded.
On the hunt for the Buza Bar…
And we found it! The Buza Bar. A lovely spot for a nice little break.
Time for a well earned Croatian beer.
Braving the crowds in the old harbour
Onofrio’s fountain sits in the square beside the Pile gate. There are 16 of these gargoyle heads around the fountain through which the water flows into the surrounding pool.
And the pigeons love it – they believe it’s the most amazing bird bath!
Having had enough of the crowds, we headed back to the ship to relax before setting sail to our next destination – Kotor, Montenegro. We left Dubrovnik as the sun was setting – a beautiful end to another wonderful day…