The Mediterranean’s medieval gem

Dubrovnik is one of Croatia’s most famous cities. Many people know of its incredible Old Town (Stari Grad), which is surrounded entirely by a series of defensive, stone walls, which run over 6,000 feet, have a maximum height of 82 feet, and are approximately 15 feet thick. They have been defending the city against sieges throughout its history from 866 to 1991 when the Serbian army sat atop Mount Zarkovica above the city and launched artillery. The ancient walls turned out to be more effective at resisting modern warfare than contemporary structures outside of the Old Town.

Having read about Dubrovnik’s history and layout before I traveled there, I had an idea of what to expect, but as I drove into the city, down from Mount Zarkovica, the view took my breath away.

The walls’ stones looked pearly white in the afternoon sun as the city jutted out into the clear, blue Adriatic. When you look down on it, there are few trees clinging to the mountain face and you have a clear view of the famous red rooftops that cover the buildings. From above, it is a sleepy little city, but once you enter the old town through a fortified stone gate, the story completely changes.

During the day, there is the dizzying activity of tourists crowding the streets and gaping at the incredible architecture while scrambling to get the best gelato (ice cream). At first, the crowds felt oppressive and disappointing; it seemed to make my trip less special since, apparently, everyone was visiting Dubrovnik. However, as twilight fell and tourists set sail on their cruise ships, the city became mine.

dubrovnik

Dubrovnik’s harbor in Stari Grad at twilight.

I did not think Dubrovnik could look anymore stunning, but as the sun set on the harbor and struck the ancient walls for the final time that day, the city took on an ethereal glow.

If the history and sheer beauty are not enough to convince someone to visit Dubrovnik, it might also tempt Game of Thrones fans, as Dubrovnik is the main filming location for King’s Landing. Stock up on all of your Game of Thrones memorabilia at nearly any souvenir shop, but make sure to learn a little about the real city’s history and not just the fictional one, as it might shock you even more.

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