The Pearl Of The Adriatic, Dubrovnik

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Hilton Imperial Hotel along Ulica Branitelja Durovnika. I am walking the streets of Dubrovnik a major Mediterranean power during the 13th century. This late-Medieval planned city in the southern part of the East Adriatic Croatian coast seated at the foot of Mount Srđ has remained mostly unchanged, having survived the devastating earthquake of 1667.

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Walking towards Pile Gate (Gradska vrata Pile), the main entrance to the Old City of Dubrovnik. This UNESCO World Heritage Site inducted in 1979 has managed to preserve its Gothic, Renaissance & Baroque churches, monasteries & fountains making it virtually an open-air museum.

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A little square near the ticket office along Brsalje.

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The imposing Fort St. Lawrence (Tvrdava Lovrijenac) rising 37m on a steep cliff just outside Dubrovnik’s city walls near the Western entrance. It was built around 11th century in 3 months before an impending attempt by the Venetians to lay claim, build a fortress & take control of the city.

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Just above Pile Gate (Gradska vrata Pile) is one of the many statues of the city’s Patron Saint St. Blaise carrying a model of Dubrovnik in his left arm.

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Within the Old City of Dubrovnik after entering through the main entrance, Pile Gate.

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The Franciscan Monastery complex (Franjevacki Samostan) which was built in the 1300’s sits at the start of the Placa to the left of Pile Gate.

Within the Franciscan Monastery is an outstanding cloister, library & a historic pharmacy display.

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The Renaissance Hall in the monastery  now houses a collection of liturgical & art objects & an inventory of the Franciscan pharmacy founded in 1317. A functioning pharmacy still operates here, making it the 3rd oldest pharmacy in the world.

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Sandwiched between Pile Gate & the Franciscan Monastery is the Church of the Holy Saviour (Crkva Svetog Spasa) whose entrance faces the Onofrio Fountain. This small votive Renaissance church was built in 1520 in gratitude for having survived the earthquake of the same year. The church remained undamaged during the earthquake of 1667 & preserved its original decor to the present. It was built by domestic master builders from Korčula, the Andrijić brothers who blended the church perfectly with its surroundings.

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The Stradun is the main thorough-fare in the Old City of Dubrovnik.

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The Stradun is a limestone pedestrian street that runs 300m through the historic Old Town of Dubrovnik from Pile Gate in the West to Ploče Gate in the East.

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Big Onofrio Fountain(Velika Onofrijeva Česma) was built in 1438 by Neapolitan architect & engineer Onofrio della Cava, as part of an aqueduct system channeling water from a well some 12km away. The earthquake in 1667 damaged the sculptures adorning the fountain & today only the 16 carved mascarons remain with water spouting from their mouths into the drainage pool.

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An interesting climb up to the fortress walls of Dubrovnik, for a different perspective of the city.

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View of the greater part of Dubrovnik up on the Old Fortress walls.

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The rounded Minčeta Tower with 6m thick fortifications is the highest point of the walls. This fort was originally built in 1319 but took thiis present form only in 1464 after numerous modifications & additions were made over time. The last person who worked on it was, architect & sculptor Juraj Dalmatinac who designed & built the high, narrow round tower.

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Roof-top gazing in Dubrovnik’s Old Town.

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The old fortress walls run uninterrupted for about 1,940m encircling the city of Dubrovnik which was formerly known as the Republic of Ragusa.

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Looking into the Courtyard of the Convent of Saint Claire (Zenski Samostan Sveti Klare) which was constructed at the end of the 13th & beginning of the 14th century. A section of this convent was opened in 1434 as an orphanage to house abandoned & illegitimate children & was one of the 1st of such institutions in the world. It was forced to shut down by the French administration during the rule of Napoleon & was turned into a munitions warehouse & later a horse stable.

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Dubrovnik’s West Harbour which is a safe haven situated between Fort St. Lawrence & Fort Bokar.

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Fort Bokar sits on this sheer cliff & fortress walls made Dubrovnik virtually impregnable but it was probably brilliant diplomacy that kept Dubrovnik safe from dangerous situations & enemy attacks. The oldest system of protection for the city was wooden palisades & the present walls were constructed mainly during the 12th to 17th centuries.

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Looking to the eastern part of the Old City of Dubrovnik with a partial view of Mount Srđ.

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Dubrovnik’s rising popularity as a tourist destination is not surprising as the historic walled city, picturesque landscape, quiet bays & beaches, small surrounding islands & crystal clear blue sea makes it an attractive destination.

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Fort St. Lawrence & Fort Bokar enclosing Dubrovnik’s western harbour. Foreign investors & high net worth individuals are investing in a second home or investment property here as Dubrovnik is conveniently connected to the major European cities like Rome, Frankfurt, Paris & London by air.

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Fort St. Lawrence (Tvrdava Lovrijenac) rises 37m above sea level & the broadest walls are those exposed to enemy fire facing the sea.

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With walls as thick as 12m on the sea-front & 60cm facing the city, Fort St. Lawrence is aptly nicknamed “Dubrovnik’s Gibraltar”.

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The cable car takes you up to Mount Srđ which is 412m above sea level. The southern slopes were once a flourishing pine forest but in the 2nd half of the 20th century, wars & numerous fires have gutted & destroyed the forest.

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Minčeta Tower was featured in “Game Of Thrones” Season Two. The base of the tower was used as the exterior of House of Undying in the town of Qarth where Daenerys Targaryen walks around trying to find the entrance into the House of Undying looking for her stolen dragons. This remarkable fort & bastion was built to defend the city from land attacks & is now regarded as the symbol of Dubrovnik.

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Little stone houses like this one can be bought within the Old City of Dubrovnik or you can buy a small plot of land to build a house albeit at a high price.

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The thriving vine bearing fruit is a testament of the balmy Mediterranean weather in this part of Croatia.

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120 cannons similar to this, are strategically placed around the outer sections of the Old city wall’s moats boosting Dubrovnik’s defense capabilities.

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An ingenious retractable system of pulleys that makes drying clothes outdoors a breeze.

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Silhouette of Lokrum Island & shimmery waters in the late morning sun.

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This main wall on the sea-facing side of Dubrovnik stretches from Fort Bokar in the west to St. John Fortress in the south & Revelin Fortress on the land side. It is between 1.5 to 5m thick & defends the city from sea-based attacks from particularly the Republic of Venice.

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The magnificent Adriatic Sea with Montenegro in the distance.

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The large & complex St. John Fortress is located on the southeast side of Dubrovnik.

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Jesuit Church of St. Ignatius of Loyola – a Baroque 18th century House of worship with magnificent frescoes with scenes from the  life of St Ignatius painted by Gaetano Garcia. Right beside the church is the Collegium Ragusinum, Dubrovnik’s reputable Jesuit college.

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We filed past this school yard & could hear the chirpy voices of the young children reciting something in Croatian. It instantly  brightened my morning & put a smile on my face!

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The city first spread towards the uninhabited eastern part of the islet & thus the name “Pustjierna” which is translated from Latin as “outside the town” stuck to this south-eastern section of Dubrovnik.

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In the eastern part of Dubrovnik lies this irregular rectangular great fortress of Revelin. Built during the middle of the 16th century right in front of Ploče Gate, it formed part of a unique defense complex that protected Dubrovnik from Venetian threats.

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The most prominent portion of the harbour are these 3 enormous arches of the large arsenal built in the late 12th century which was later enlarged in the latter part of 15th century. Today, the arsenal houses the City Café & a movie theatre.

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The harbour is also the oldest shipyard within the city that is still in use today.

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The Old Port of Dubrovnik is located on the Eastern part of the city. It is protected by 2 breakwaters namely the Porporela in front of St John Fortress & Kaše breakwater going perpendicular across the port bay.

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Basking in the morning sun!

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This is the platform where we embarked on our Boat trip that took us out to the Adriatic Sea & around Lokrum Island.

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Eastern Harbour with Porporela extending out to sea from St. John Fortress.

 

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Looking down at Ploče Gate, the doorway on the right end of the road.

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This 14th century Gothic-Romanesque Dominican Monastery (Dominikanski Samostan)  has a library of 216 incunabula & a rich archive consisting of  illustrated manuscripts & documents & an extensive art collection from Dubrovnik’s rich history.

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St. Blaise Church – Dubrovnik’s most beloved church built in the 18th century in honour of her patron saint, St. Blaise (Sveti Vlaho). This Baroque Cathedral houses an impressive treasury of relics of St. Blaise.

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The Rector’s Palace(Knežev Dor) on the right,  used to serve as the seat of the Rector of the Republic of Ragusa (Old name of Dubrovnik) from 14th century to 1808. It was also the seat of the Minor Council & the State administration housing an armory, the gun powder magazine, watch tower & a prison. The architecture is a hotchpotch of Gothic, Renaissance & Baroque elements as reconstructions were necessary due to damages caused by a gunpowder explosion in 1463 & earthquakes in 1520 & 1667.

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The Little Onofrio’s Fountain(Mala Onofrijeva Česma) stands at the Eastern side of the placa(main street) supplying water to the market place in Luža Square. The sculptures were made by Milanese artist Pietro di Martino.

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Souvenir shops & restaurants line both sides of the Placa. A Great spot for people-watching.

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Sponza Palace (Palača Sponza)  dates from the 16th century & has served various functions such as a Customs Office, Bonded Warehouse, Mint, Armory, Treasury, Bank & School. It later became  the Cultural Centre of the Republic of Ragusa when the ‘Academia dei Concordi’ a literary academy was instituted. It was fortunate that no damage was suffered during the major earthquake of 1667.

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Luza Square with the Sponza Palace, Bell Tower, Little Onofrio’s Fountain, St. Blaise Church (Left to Right) & Orlando’s Column in the middle of the square. This is the venue where the  opening ceremony of the annual Dubrovnik Summer Festival has been held since its inception in 1950.

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Orlando’s Column(Orlandov Stup) in Dubrovnik’s main square has a carved statue of one of France’s most distinguished knights Roland who served under medieval King Charlemagne (742-814), who unified much of Europe during the Middle Ages. This column was erected in 1419 just when the Republic of Dubrovnik was entering its most illustrious phase in history & came to symbolize the city’s freedom.

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