DUBROVNIK – THE SOUTHERN PART OF THE ADRIATIC COAST
There are so many wonderful and amazing things to do in Dubrovnik Croatia. Every time my family and I visit Croatia we are always discovering new things about the history and beauty of Dubrovnik.
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Dubrovnik, Croatia is a town located at the southernmost part of the Adriatic coast. It is known as one of the World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.
When we visit Croatia, to visit my in-laws, we fly into Ćilipi Airport, in Dubrovnik. Then we drive up along the coast to Orebić, the Peninsula Pelješac.
The drive takes about 2 hours. We are always amazed by the old architecture, the blue of the Adriatic Sea and the beautiful sceneries. Our heads are always swiveling from left to right.
Related article: Have An Adventure on the Peljesac Peninsula in Croatia
Dubrovnik was founded in the first half of the 7th century (Republic of Ragusa, as it was known then) when Epidaurum was destroyed in the course of an invasion by Slavs and Avars in Dalmatia.
Put your walking shoes because there is no other way to see Dubrovnik then to walk its beautiful cobblestone streets down the Stradun.
things to do in Dubrovnik
1. ANCIENT walls of Dubrovnik
The old town is encircled with monumental 1,940 meter long walls. On the mainland side, it is 4-6 meters wide and on the seaside, it is 1.5 – 3 meters wide. In some places even 25 meters high.
The wall is strengthened with three circular and twelve rectangular towers, five bastions, two corner citadels, and a big fortress of St. John. The most monumental amongst towers is Minčeta.
There have been many additions and modifications throughout its history. It has been known to be amongst the greatest fortification systems of the middle ages. They were built to protect the city from hostile enemy forces throughout history,
2. Franciscan Monastery
The Franciscan Monastery is located immediately on the left when you pass through the Pile Gates. It is just before where Stradun starts. The Franciscan church was one of the wealthiest churches in Dubrovnik until the earthquake of 1667 destroyed it.
The large complex holds a monastery, church, library a pharmacy. The monastery was built in 1360 in a Romanesque style.
3. Luža square
Luža Square is the center of public life since the oldest times. From that square stretches towards the west the main artery of the town inside walls … Stradun.
On the north side of the square is the Sponza Palace. In the middle of the square is Orlando’s Pillar and towards the south is the baroque church of St. Vlaho.
To the east, is the Loggia of Bellringers, the Municipal Belfry, and the Main Guardhouse in front of which, in a niche, there is the Small Onofrije’s Fountain.
Every year there is held a summer festival in the square, from July 10th to August 25th. The festival offers music, theatre, dance, opera, and folklore.
Stradun is the beautiful cobblestone street in the old town that takes to the center of the historic walled city of Dubrovnik. Your eyes will want to capture every inch of the beauty in the town’s history.
I hope you are prepared with a camera because you will be snapping everything you see. From the little outside eateries to the quaint little boutiques. There is so much history in this old historical town.
If you have been a fan of “Games of Thrones“, that is all you see in every other boutique along the Stradun. There are tons of memorabilia of the infamous show. They even have a boutique only for Game of Thrones memorabilia. There is Game of Thrones tours to take for those thrill-seekers.
5. Sponza Palace
The Sponza Palace was built in mixed Gothic and Renaissance style from 1516 to 1522. It served as a customs office, mint, state treasury, and the armory.
The Sponza Palace has a special role in the opening of the Dubrovnik Summer Festival. The members of the Council Minor greet the actors that have come to the City to entertain and amuse the public with their music shows and theatre plays.
6. Church of St. Vlaho
The baroque church of Sveti (Saint) Vlaho built from 1714-1716. The original 14th Century Romanesque church had been destroyed by fire in 1706. Only the silver statue of St. Blaise was by some miracle saved. St. Blaise has been honored as the patron saint of Dubrovnik since the 10th century.
7. Orlando’s Pillar
In the middle of Luža square, you will find Orlando’s Pillar. Some will refer to it as “Orlando’s Column”. The figure of a warrior is carved in stone by Antun Dubrovcan in 1418.
Legend has it that the warrior’s name was Orlando and he helped save Dubrovnik from a 15th-month-long siege. The citizens of Dubrovnik erected this column to express their gratitude.
8. Onofrio’s Fountain
The Big Onofrio fountain is a 16 sided container with a cupola. In the 14th century, Dubrovnik took great care in supplying a sufficient supply of fresh water.
At first, water was supplied using cisterns that collected rainwater from the rooftops. But in times of droughts, ships would carry freshwater from the springs in Mlini, sell to private consumers or fill up dried up public wells.
In 1436, an aqueduct system was constructed from Šumet, close to Dubrovnik, by builder Onofrio Giordano Della Cava.
The spring water is so refreshing, cold and delicious. It’s better than your best-bottled water.
A smaller version of a fountain was constructed that is situated under the Bell Tower close to the Sponza Palace. It was simply called “Small Onofrio Fountain”.
9. Dubrovnik Cathedral
The baroque Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary was built from 1679 to 1713 in the place of the old Romanesque cathedral that was destroyed in an earthquake in 1667.
The cathedral holds many valuable paintings and 182 reliquaries from the 11th to 18th centuries.
10. St. John Fortress
The Fortress of St. John (Sv. Ivan) was built in 1346. It was built to protect the entrance of the port which is located on the south-eastern side of the old city town.
The large interior of the St John fortress houses the Maritime Museum and the Aquarium. It was so much fun taking the kids to see the aquarium.
11. Fort Lovrijenac
The Lovrijenac Fortress was founded in 1050. It is located atop a high cliff 37 meters above sea level, on the western wall of the city.
It was reconstructed in 1418, 1571 and 1646. In some places, the walls of the fortress are six meters wide. Today, it is one of the most attractive summer stages for plays, like Shakespeare’s Hamlet which has become the symbol of Dubrovnik’s Summer Festival.
On the fortress, you can read the inscription “Non bene pro toto libertas venditur auro” meaning: Freedom is not sold for all gold in the world.
12. The Island of Lokrum
Lokrum is a small island in front of Dubrovnik. It takes 10 – 15 minutes to reach by boat. The area of the island is 0.8 sq.km and is known for its beautiful botanical gardens. In 1023, the citizens of Dubrovnik built a Benedictine monastery with a church.
In 1191, the English King Richard the Lion Heart landed on the island when his ship was caught in a storm on his return from the crusades.
13. Cable Car
Riding the cable car will give you that much more appreciation for the beauty of the panoramic views of Dubrovnik. You will ride from atop the Srđ Hill down overlooking the old town of Dubrovnik. It was built in 1969 and was used by millions of visitors.
14. Food and Drink
So many places to eat in Dubrovnik. So many options as you stroll along the Stradun. There are pubs, bakeries with delish pastries and cakes, fine dining, fast food, ice cream parlors, and our favorite: pizza joints.
There are plenty of little shops, boutiques, souvenir shops for you to buy something to take away from Dubrovnik. As you walk along the cobblestone street of Stradun, you will find so many unique shops, especially memorabilia from that iconic show “Game of Thrones”.
I hope you find your little nugget of history and beauty when you visit Dubrovnik. I hope you come away with much appreciation for the history that is in abundance in this beautiful and memorable city. It is a history that has overcome so much destruction and devastation over the years. However, the city still stands proud and brilliant.