Sunday, March 23, 2008

Dubrovnik, Croatia.

icknamed the "Pearl of the Adriatic" by Lord Byron, Dubrovnik will be our last and final destination on our trip through Turkey and Croatia. I know that by the time I arrive in Dubrovnik I will have very mixed feelings - excited at finally being able to experience all that I seen and read in the guidebooks and on the web and sadness that my trip will soon come to an end.

"Those who seek paradise on earth should seek it in Dubrovnik." George Bernard Shaw

Dubrovnik is Croatia's southernmost city and it is the cultural, administrative, economic and educational center of the country.

The old town was completed in the 13th century. From 1991 to 1992, the rebel Serbs shelled the city causing considerable damage but thanks to local efforts and international aid, the old town has been restored to its former beauty. Today, the city is a UNESCO World Heritate site.

Tall ramparts surround the old town and there are only two entrances. Pile Gate is the main entrance. Formerly surrounded by a moat complete with a drawbridge that was built in 1537, Pile Gate is now a pedestrian walkway that leads to the Stradún, the city's main promenade.

I am hoping the Stradún will be lined with lots of sidewalk cafés where we can sit and just watch the world go by!

Looking down the Stradún.
According to the guidebooks, located in and around Stradún are many of Dubrovnik's historical landmarks - we'll definitely be checking out the highlights. From what I can tell, most have been damaged (to varying degrees) and restored over the years.

The city patron is St. Blaise and one of the "must-see" tourist sights is the Church that is named after him. Built in Baroque style, the design of the church harkens back between 1706 and 1717 when it was built by Venetian architect and sculptor Marino Gropeli. Through the years it has been damaged by earthquake and war but restoration efforts continue and hopefully, someday, it will fully restored to its former glory.

At some point in its history, Dubrovnik was governed by a Rector who rightfully deserved the best palace the rich republic could build. The Rector's Palace, built in 1441, is now a city museum packed with valuable and historic exhibits.

I think we'll be kept pretty busy just wandering up and down the Stradún and while it's important that we see all the major historic sites, I'm hoping that we'll find the time and energy to catch some cultural events as well - Dubrovnik is known for its musical performances. Of course, with the great scenery all around us, I would be more than happy to do nothing more than just loll about in the sun!