Dubbed the “Pearl of the Adriatic,” the beautiful city of Dubrovnik offers a wealth of tourist attractions for visitors to explore. Dubrovnik was founded in the 7th century and has been ruled through the centuries by the Venetians and the Hungarians, each of which have left their mark. The city enjoyed its greatest growth in the 15th and 16th centuries, a fact reflected in the impressive architecture and its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Popular for its spectacular seafront location on the Dalmatian Coast, coupled with its evocative and historic Old Town district, Dubrovnik is home to Croatia’s artistic and intellectual elite and offers numerous cultural activities and festivals.
The Old City Walls
The old city walls of Dubrovnik are one of its best-known features, now more than ever thanks to being featured in the hit TV series, Game of Thrones. Built in the 10th century and modified in the 13th and 14th centuries, these formidable walls — as high as six meters in places, and up to six meters thick — provided a solid defense against invaders. Totaling nearly two kilometers in length, Dubrovnik’s city walls make a great spot for a casual stroll and offer numerous excellent views over the Adriatic and inwards over the old city center. Other highlights include its two towers, the Minceta Tower (Tvrdava Minceta) and the Bokar Tower (Tvrdava Bokar), along with two forts, the Fort Lovrjenac and the Revelin Fortress. Access to the walls is through the main entrance on the left of Pile Gate (admission is charged).
Stradun of Dubrovnik
The spectacular Stradun — also known in Dubrovnik as Placa — is a place where locals and visitors alike gather day and night to watch the world drift by. Undoubtedly one of Europe’s most picturesque pedestrian thoroughfares, the Stradun boasts many cafés and restaurants and is a good spot to get in some shopping, or to rest weary feet after a day touring Dubrovnik.
Measuring 300 meters in length and famous for its white limestone paving, the street dates back to 1468, although many of the surrounding buildings were built in the 17th century after the devastating earthquake of 1667, when most of Dubrovnik was heavily damaged.
The Stradun’s unique homes are designed to enable residential living upstairs and business activities on the main level, and are notable for having their main doors and windows under the same arch. Just a few steps away from the Stradum on one of the side streets, War Photo Limited is a fascinating photography museum displaying images from the countless armed conflicts mankind has found itself caught up in.
Loggia Square in Dubrovnik has long been a central gathering point for citizens and visitors alike. Featuring some of Dubrovnik’s most famous buildings and public monuments, this former market square is found in the northeast section of the old city center.
Highlights include Orlando’s Column (Orlandov stup), built and designed by sculptor Antonio Ragusino, as well as the famous Loggia of the Bells, dating from 1480 and used as an early warning system by residents in times of unrest.
It’s here you’ll also find the Church of St. Blaise, of interest for its Baroque façade and priceless collection of works of art. Also of interest on the square are a clock tower from the 15th century; the main guardhouse; the small fountain of Onofrio; and Sponza Palace, now home to the city’s archives.
Dubrovnik’s Gibraltar: Fort Lovrijenac
Dubbed “Dubrovnik’s Gibraltar” for its location on a rocky promontory just outside the city’s western wall, Fort Lovrijenac — also known as St. Lawrence Fortress — has long been one of Croatia’s most important fortresses. Rising an impressive 37 meters above the Adriatic, this stunning fortification proved impregnable during the many sieges undertaken by the Venetians from its completion in the 11th century onwards. Legend, in fact, has it that the Venetians themselves planned to build a fort here but were beaten to it by industrious city folk.
Also notable for its unusual triangular layout with its three terraces, Fort Lovrijenac is accessed via two drawbridges and a gateway through its impressive walls, in places as thick as 12 meters.
In addition to serving as a tourist attraction, the fort is also used as a venue and backdrop for Dubrovnik’s famous Summer Festival and its many theatrical and musical performances.
The Large Fountain of Onofrio and St. Saviour Church
Built between 1438 and 1444, Dubrovnik’s famous Large Fountain of Onofrio is probably the best known of the city’s many historic monuments. An easy stroll from the Pile Gate, this landmark structure is somewhat smaller today than the original due to damage caused by the earthquake of 1667. The fountain was an important part of the city’s original water supply system (also designed by Onofrio de la Cava) that carried water from the Dubrovacka river.
The fountain stands immediately in front of the equally attractive St. Saviour Church (Crkva sv Spasa). Built in the early 16th century in thanks for what city elders believed was divine intervention after the city was spared during an earthquake a few years earlier, it is in fact one of only a few buildings to have survived the devastating earthquake of 1667 intact. Today, this small place of worship is well worth visiting for its fine Gothic and Renaissance features.