The Dubrovnik Old Town, the old core of the historic city of Dubrovnik, is by far the most visited part of the city and the home of Dubrovnik’s main attractions. Located at the foot of Mount Srđ, the Old Town holds a number of outstanding medieval, Renaissance and Baroque monuments and buildings. These include the Sponza Palace, Rector’s Palace, the large Dominican Monastery, the 14th century Franciscan Church and Monastery, St. Blaise’s Church and a number of other Baroque churches.
Sponza Palace, which used to be a customs house and now houses the city archives, is the best example of the city’s Renaissance architecture, while Rector’s Palace, now home to a museum, dates back to the 11th century, but was rebuilt after the 1667 earthquake in a blend of the Renaissance and Gothic style. The Franciscan Monastery is known for its library with 30,000 volumes, numerous valuable documents and historic exhibits, while the Dominican Monastery contains a Gothic-Romanesque Church, an art museum and also an impressive library with numerous old illustrated manuscripts. The Church of St. Blaise, built in Baroque style in the 18th century, houses the relics of St. Blaise, Dubrovnik’s patron saint.
Two arched gates, Pile and Ploče, serve as entrances to the Old Town, and are overlooked by two forts, Minčeta to the north and Bokar to the south. Minčeta Tower, one of Dubrovnik’s most recognizable landmarks, offers a spectacular view of the entire city. The monumental city gates are connected by Stradun, the main street of the Old Town and a popular meeting place for both the young and the old.
The Old Town, a prime example of a medieval walled city, became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979. The site was later extended to include the island of Lokrum, the Pile medieval industrial suburb, Fort Lovrijenac, the Revelin Fortress, and more fortifications. Situated on a cliff outside the western wall of the city, Lovrijenac is a fortress and a theatre overlooking the two city gates. It may have been built as early as the 11th century, but its present appearance largely reflects 15th and 16th century styles. The Revelin Fortress, standing on the northern side of the town moat, was built in the 15th century and remodelled a century later to provide additional protection to the eastern entrance to the city.
Stradun is Dubrovnik’s most popular promenade and one of the busiest parts of the city, with numerous coffee shops, restaurants, galleries, and souvenir shops keeping the atmosphere alive and vibrant well into the early hours. It is one of the main venues of all public events and processions.
The two Onofrio’s Fountains, which greet visitors when they enter through the city gates, were designed by the Italian designer and engineer Onofrio della Cava in 1438. The Big Onofrio’s Fountain is located near the Pile city gate, while the Little Onofrio’s Fountain is at the eastern end of Stradun.
Also at the eastern end, under the City Bell Tower, stands Orlando’s Column, a large stone column built in the early 15th century as a symbol of loyalty to Sigismund of Luxembourg, King of Hungary and Croatia. Located in the middle of Luža Square, the column served different purposes over the centuries, including public proclamations and public punishments. Today, it has a central role at the opening and closing ceremonies of the Dubrovnik Summer Festival.
Dubrovnik city walls
The walls of Dubrovnik, which run almost 2 kilometres around the city, welcome hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. Built to protect Dubrovnik from invasions, the complex system of forts, towers and bastions that kept the city safe for centuries is remarkably well-preserved, even though it dates back to the early Middle Ages.
The walls form an irregular four-sided polygon and the four prominent points are protected by the city forts: Minčeta to the north, Revelin to the sea, Bokar and Lovrijenac to the west and the St. John Fortress to the southeast. Originally built to protect the city from pirates and enemy ships, the monumental St. John Fortress now houses an aquarium and the Maritime Museum.
A 45-minute tour of the Dubrovnik city walls offers spectacular views of the Old Town, the island of Lokrum and Mount Srđ. The walls are open to tourists every day from morning to early evening. The main entrance is by the Pile city gate.
Hotels near Dubrovnik
Visitors looking for accommodation near Dubrovnik can book their stay at Hotel Mlini, a 4-star hotel located in Mlini, a popular vacation spot on the Dubrovnik riviera. The village of Mlini offers everything one needs for a relaxing vacation: crystal clear sea, secluded beaches and rich gastronomic offerings. Opened in 2015, Hotel Mlini offers luxury accommodation with balconies overlooking the sea and all the modern services and amenities.
Image: Wikimedia Commons/hozinja http://www.flickr.com/people/44717021@N06