The Walled City of Dubrovnik
Can water get bluer; weather cooler; and medieval towns more magnificent? Apparently so- Dubrovnik’s Old Town is like Kotor on steroids . . . . amazing. Even the crowds were on steroids – they seemed to have multiplied ten-fold; not surprising since Dubrovnik is a port many of the larger ships visit, and there were three ships in port today.
Our scheduled tour was canceled today, so we did a self-tour of the ancient walled town and had a lovely, delicious lunch on the waterfront of the Old Harbour (at the perfectly located Arsenal Taverna).
The amazing thing about Dubrovnik’s Old Town is the wall has been completely restored surrounding the entire city. The first sight is of the walls and ramparts which at 6,363’ long, up to 82’ high and as much as 20’ thick in places are like nothing I have ever seen. It is all much larger than imagined, by far the largest of the medieval towns we have visited. You can imagine how this city flourished as a self-governed city-state and important shipping center for hundreds of years. You do have to buy a ticket to go up on top of the walls, but it is worth every kuna.
Now another UNESCO site, the walls are magnificent. We entered through the main Pile Gate, walking over what used to be a moat and a drawbridge, now placed permanently in the down position, to join the thousands of other tourists visiting for the day. We saw the Big Fountain of Onofrio at the entrance and Onofio’s Little Fountain near the Harbour; walked the Stradun filled with shops hawking pricey souvenirs; took pictures beside the mysterious Orlando’s Column (Orlando might have been an 8th century legendary knight who fought off pirates and saved the city); and saw the requisite clock tower, domes, palaces, monasteries and churches that make every medieval city complete.
All the crowds brought to mind what it must’ve been like in the 14th and 15th centuries when the city was thriving, and most of the population would live, work and do business within the walls. I can only imagine what it must’ve smelled like back then.
But in this city, the best of all was walking on the walls. My daughter and I made it half-way around before deciding if we didn’t catch the shuttle back to the ship we would miss our spa appointments,and my husband gets the prize for completing the entire circuit. We started at the tower called Minčeta Fort and also saw Bokar and St. John’s Fort. From the Bokar Fort we had a good view of the Lovrijenac fortress on a nearby point across the water. The dramatic view down to the rocky Adriatic Sea is interspersed with places to eat, private swimming areas and other spots where people have chosen to picnic and swim from the craggy rocks (no beach in sight). It looked pretty frightening to me.
The evening was spent dining under the stars and listening to the Azamara Quest’s great musicians and singers perform hits from the 70s and 80s.
If I was looking for a knight in Kotor, I would expect no less than a few dozen in the Old Town of Dubrovnik.