“Those who seek paradise on Earth should come to Dubrovnik and see Dubrovnik.”
– George Bernard Shaw, Nobel Prize winning writer and playwright
A bright star perched along the Croatian coast of the sparkling Adriatic Sea, Dubrovnik looks more like the inspiration for the Disney set for Pirates of the Caribbean than any other real place on earth. Constructed as a series of fortresses to protect against centuries of invasions from pirates and other nations, Dubrovnik is guarded by massive stone walls and hefty cannons butting up against the sea-a sight like no other and a city worth visiting.
The Old Town
Looking out over Dubrovnik’s Old Town, the traveler sees a charming jumble of red-tiled roofs and stunning towers rimmed by two kilometers of thick white walls. The walls have been necessary-though the city of Dubrovnik began in the 7th century as a major cultural and commercial influence, countless enemies have attacked Dubrovnik for its white flag bearing its simple ideal: Libertas (Liberty). For centuries, Dubrovnik’s city and republic fought and thrived despite opposition. Because of Dubrovnik’s significant contribution to world history, it became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979.
Even since then, Dubrovnik’s legacy was severely threatened when more than two thousand shells hit the city in the 1990’s Yugoslav war. Mortar marks can still be seen today, walking through the city. Despite the scars of war, Dubrovnik’s architecture reflects its rich history of varied influences-Greek, Portuguese, Italian, Spanish, German, and Slavic.
Formed of a coastline jagged with dark rocks and dotted with sand and pebble beaches, the area around Dubrovnik makes a memorable place for a dip in the green Adriatic Sea. On a rough day, waves crash along the walls of Dubrovnik’s Old Town, but on a calm day, the shimmering Adriatic beckons travelers out into its natural beauty.Venture out on a day cruise boat for a trip around the nearby islands, or swim out from one of the local beaches. Dine or walk along the shore for an unforgettable sight of the sun setting above the rough-hewn islands and sleepless lighthouses.
Where to Eat
As with every tourist center, Dubrovnik offers its fair hand of tourist-type restaurants. Club Nautika features top views of the city accompanied by an elegant menu at higher prices. But if you venture a bit off the worn cobblestone path, more authentic fare can be found.
My personal favorite, for the intimate setting and long wooden bar: Pizzeria Mea Culpa, only a few alleys from the main Stradun.
What to do
Beginning at Lapad Beach, walk a kilometer along the coast of the Lapad Peninsula to enjoy spectacular views of the Bay and the Adriatic, and three working lighthouses. Venture through the Old Town, and down the wide stone alley called Stradun. Duck into galleries and museums, shops and churches, and envision the 1400 years of existence of the fortress town bordered by mountain and Sea.
Nicknamed “the pearl of the Adriatic,” travelers cannot resist Dubrovnik’s enchantment. Again and again, I return to lasting impressions and vivid memories of the Pearl-like Fortress mounted against the Emerald Sea: Dubrovnik.
Jennifer Lyn King, a native Texan, lives in the Czech Republic, where she writes from her home near Prague. She is the author of The One Year Mini for Busy Women. Read her blog on Red Room. All the photos above are copyright Jennifer Lyn King.