Old City, Dubrovnik
We took a ferry trip to an island and as we left the old city harbour I took several photos of the Walled City. From the ocean the old walls look massive and you can appreciate the sense of security the inhabitants must have felt from the 14th century until the events of the 20th century. The second photo shows the Fort of St John which protected the harbour entrance.
The main street is Stradun ( Placa ) and walking towards the harbour on the left are a number of narrow streets which go up the very steep hill. It is most interesting to walk these streets, to get off the the tourist streets and find little shops and restaurants, houses and apartments where the locals live, to see children in the streets and possible purchase something from one of the shops. We found shirts and souvineers much cheaper than on the main street, we also stopped for coffee and lunch at one of the small restaurants at the top of one of these side streets.
Note in one of the photos the washing line across the street from one of the apartments.
Walking around the old city and its walls you will see many Croatians selling various items made or crafted by themselves. These works are usually very good, have a Croatian theme and are reasonably priced.
During the 1990's war the Old City of Dubrovnik was bombed and 60% of the city suffered damage. Luckily the damage did not destroy the buildings and was quickly restored after the war with assistance from international groups. Most of the old town roofing was damaged and can be easily seen by the bright new terra cotta tiles. There are some sections undamaged and these photos show how the city was before the war.Walking the city walls enables you to easily ascertain the extent of the damage caused during the war.
Passing Gundulić Square you come to this grand Baroque staircase , climb up to reach Bošković Square where at the top is the fine Jesuit Church - Church of St Ignatius. Unfortunately this was one of the few buildings being renovated during our stay and we couldn't see the fine Baroque portal and an imposing facade which were under wraps. Oh and in case you think the grand staicase is familiar it was modelled on the spanish steps in Rome.
We loved the Old City. We went to 3 different churches, St. Blaise's, St. Ignatius of Loyola, and the Cathedral. Wow, wow, wow, talk about amazing architecture, paintings, sculptures, ceilings and the choir in St. Ignatius of Loyola sang so beautifully, they brought me to tears.
The Old City has lots of cafes and restaurants and many many shops. There are all little side streets running from the main street (Stradun). There is so much to see and do. A little walk will bring you to the harbour where ferries wait to take you to different islands.
It's difficult to describe the atmosphere. Parades will come now and then, of Croatian men and children in uniform and traditional clothing. At night, the place becomes THE place to be, with many young people flocking to the night clubs.
We favored sitting in one cafe every morning after church, and then just strolling and shopping. I bought my friend a purse and myself a ring.
Inbetween the Rector's Palace and the Cathedral is Gundulic square. This is a lively part of Dubrovnik with its morning market and the deluxe Pucic Palace hotel. The square is named after Dubrovnik's renowned poet Ivan Gundulic - whose staute can be found in the centre..
Just by the clock tower in front of St Blaise's church is this historic column. Orlando's Column is probably the most significant symbol of Dubrovnik's independence and freedom. The hoisting of the white flag bearing the insignia of St. Blasius on the column in 1419 marked the beginning of the golden period of Ragusan (Old Dubrovnik's name) history. Its lowering in 1808, when Napoleon's army marched into the city, was the end of this golden era. In later years this column was used as a pillar of shame and today its a focal point for tour leaders.
CRkva Spasiteljeva (the Church of the Saviour) was built in 1520 by the order of the Senate in gratitude that the city had been spared from destruction in the earthquake which hit Dubrovnik in that time. The monumental inscription on the front facade testifies to this.
This small votive church, between the Pile Gate and the Franciscan Monastery, was built by the architect Petar Andrijiæ from island of Korèula. As the church was spared in the big earthquake of 1667, it is preserved in its original form and is a good example of Renaissance architecture in Dubrovnik.
The walls of Dubrovnik have stood for over seven centuries against attacks. On the placa the main pedestrian street paved with marble. Plenty of cafe's, shops, restaurants and bars. Its very busy the whole of summer and although l thought it was a good idea to go in September there were still hords of tourists around. Inside the city walls you will also find many churches from catholic to orthodox and many weddings. The old city apparently is very romantic place to wed, find tons of restaurants offering all kinds of food especailly seafood. Pile Gate is the western entrance which leads into the castle. Here at pile gate you can also find the main bus station and public toilets along with a supermarket and one or two restaurants.
The old city of Dubrovnik is encapsulated by the city walls. Inside the walls you will find a well preserved city that only bears the signs of the recent war in a few places. Most of the town is well preserved and cram packed with touristrelated shops and restaurants.
However going a bit into the alleys and away from the always crowded stradun will open up oppurtunities for a more relaxing stroll within the old city.
The Dubrovnik International Film Festival takes place every year during the last weekend in May. This year, special guests were Christopher Walken, Emily Watson, John Hurt and Peter Medak among others. The film festival started three years ago and is growing rapidly. The festival shows films from all around the world and they are all subtited in english, if english is not spoken. It's a great event to catch something different to do while in this very special city. Films are screened in the cinema in the old city near the bell tower or in the summer outdoor cinema just a 10 minute walk away. Mr Walken was recently interviewed on the David Letterman show and talked about the film festival!
There has been a fair amount of reconstruction in Dubrovnik since hostilities ended in the region almost ten years ago. The city was shelled from the surrounding mountains by Serb forces under the directives of Milosevic and extensive damage was done to the roofs of many buildings. The buildings in the foreground still contain their original weathered terra cotta roofs. Those in the background have new tiles and you can see workers restoring a roof near the front of the photo.
The old tiles are called Kupe Kanalice and were hand made in the shape of a human thigh, a practice dating back to the Middle Ages when human models were used to mould the tiles. Unfortunately, the factory that produced these tiles closed in the 1950s and the replacement tiles come from a factory in France. Although not exact replicas of the Dubrovnik tiles, the new ones are as close as can be attained and after a few decades of weathering, Dubrovnik's original glory should be fully restored. Don't get me wrong - there's still plenty of glory there and the rich orange of the new terra cotta tiles makes for an incredible contrast with the deep blue and turquoise waters of the surrounding Adriatic.
The view of the Stradun, or main street of town, from the wall as well as the coastline beyond. The day I walked the wall it was very hot, about 100 degrees. The city was preparing for the visit of John Paul II and the banners were to celebrate his visit.
More views from the wall. As you walk along you can see much of the damage from the recent war that has still not been rebuilt. The birdseye view gives you a peek into the little backyards and alleyways that comprise the old city.