As Jared mentioned in his last post, we’ve been trying to hit up one tourist attraction per day to get out of the apartment and see the city. So far our favorites (and probably the two most popular attractions in Dubrovnik) are the walk of the city walls and the cable car to the top of Mount Srd, above the Old Town. These are both activities that really helped to orient us (Jared) within the city and provided us with some of the most stunning views of Dubrovnik. Since both activities are also best enjoyed in nice weather, we waited for the clearest days possible and were rewarded with some gorgeous pictures.
The city walls tour starts at the western Pile Gate, near our apartment. We have to wade through tourists waiting to get up the walls every morning when we head to the gym, but they seem to clear out by afternoon, so we timed our visit when we knew it would be less crowded. As we got to the top of the stairs to begin the walk, a severely heights-averse tourist was having a panic attack. Poor girl! You can see from the pictures below how high the walls are that protect the city. Here’s a little history to get you started – from a [surprisingly long] Wikipedia article about the walls:
“Today’s intact city walls, constructed mainly during the 12th–17th centuries, mostly a double line, have long been a source of pride for Dubrovnik. The walls run an uninterrupted course of approximately 1,940 metres (6,360 ft) in length, encircling most of the old city, and reach a maximum height of about 25 metres (82 ft). The bulk of the existing walls and fortifications were constructed during the 14th and 15th centuries, but were continually extended and strengthened up until the 17th century.”
Along the way there were lots of fun lookouts and towers to explore. Jared kept trying to get me to sit on a cannon and pose for a picture à la Dr. Stragelove, but I wasn’t having it (I didn’t want to be those tourists).
We were stuck behind a tour group for the first bit, but once we managed to get around them we managed to have a pretty quiet walk.
The southern portion of the walls face the sea, and views are breathtaking. I can’t imagine the woman who was afraid of heights made it this far, because at this point we were pretty high up! What we found interesting was how few railings and safety precautions had been installed, compared to how everything would probably be completely completely enclosed in the US. It was pretty refreshing (personal responsibility – imagine that)!
During the Siege of Dubrovnik by the Yugoslav army from 1991 – 1992, most of the city’s rooftops were destroyed and have been replaced. So many of them are new that it was a surprise to find an original rooftop; it really made it clear to us just how much of the city had to be rebuilt after the war (more on that later):
After we finished walking the walls we headed over to the Fort of St. Lawrence, just outside the Pile Gate. Apparently our tickets to the city walls got us in here for free, but we didn’t know that and paid twice, like RUBES…that’s what I get for not reading my Rick Steves before we left the house.
According to Mr. Steves, St. Lawrence is:
“Dubrovnik’s oldest fortress and one of the top venues for the Dubrovnik Summer Festival. Shakespearean plays are often performed here, occasionally starring Goran Višnjić, the Croatian actor who became an American star on the TV show ER.“
So for all you Dr. Luka Kovak fans out there (you know who you are), now you know where to find him!
Unfortunately after this gorgeous day last week, we had some rainy weather on and off so we visited some of the indoor attractions for the rest of the week. We had been really looking forward to the views from Mt. Srd, so we didn’t want to waste the $30 for two tickets on a crappy day. Finally yesterday we had a very mild and sunny day so we decided it was worth it to tackle the mountain.
As you can see, the views were ONLY OK. We couldn’t quite see forever and ever.
Once we had picked our jaws up off the ground we checked out the fortress that was built by Napoleon in 1810 and used during the Siege by the Dubrovnik Defenders to protect the city. It’s clear why this fortress was such a strategic and symbolic stronghold during the Seige – it flew the Croatian flag to give the citizens hope, and had it fallen Dubrovnik would have been [even more] mercilessly shelled from above.
Inside the fortress there is a small museum dedicated to the Siege. While it was interesting to see the pictures and artifacts from the war, the explanations were almost impossible to read due to poor translation. Jared walked around saying, “they need a copy editor” and I just stopped trying to read it after a while – it just hurt my brain too much. It seemed that the translator was relying on emotion rather than grasp of the English language. However, even without explanation, the exhibit did properly convey the devastation that was caused by the war, and it was interesting to get a little more sense of what it was like and to see how the city has rebuilt.
After the museum, we couldn’t resist the opportunity to enjoy our afternoon coffee with the best view ever, even though it was starting to get a bit chilly up there:
At that point, we were freezing (we had dressed a little optimistically given how warm it had been in town) so we headed back to the cable car. As we waited for the next departure we were treated to a beautiful hazy Adriatic sunset:
I thought it would be fun to take a video on the way down to share with you all. It helps to show how far up we were and to give a bit more orientation of the Old Town. Pile Gate (and our apartment) is to the far right of the Old Town and Buza Gate is just to the right of the terminal.
That about covers it for now. I hope you can all see what a lovely city we are lucky enough to be living in at the moment.