George Bernard Shaw was enchanted by
this beautiful city: for him, it was paradise. Edward VIII and Mrs.
Simpson's last trip abroad before they were married was to Dubrovnik and the Croatian Adriatic. (The
locals even claim that they wanted to settle there.) Prince Charles visited
a few years ago and left captivated, as did Baroness Thatcher; Michael Foot
(the former leader of the Labour Party) is a
regular visitor. Millions of other people also take home happy memories
from this "jewel of the Adriatic".
Dubrovnik has a remarkable history. An independent,
merchant republic for 700 years (abolished by Napoleon in 1806), it traded
with Turkey and India in the East (with a consul in Goa, India) and had trade representatives in
Africa (Cape Verde
Islands). It even had
diplomatic relations with the English court in the middle ages. (There is a
letter from Elizabeth I on display in the City
Museum in Dubrovnik). Its status was such that
powerful and rich Venice
was envious of this Croatian-Slav city.
The Stradun – Jan 2006
The old town was completed in the 13th
century and remains virtually unchanged to the present day. Tall ramparts
surround it and there are only two entrances to the old town which lead to
the Stradun, the city's promenade. One of the
greatest pleasures for many visitors is to have a drink in one of the
nearby cafes and watch the world go by, whilst they themselves are being
watched by the city patron, St. Blaise, or Sveti Vlaho as the locals
call him. In 1991/2, the 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. But whatever we say, our words do not
give justice to this dazzling place. So come soon and see it with your own
Dubrovnik is the most southern city in Croatia,
and the most practical way to reach the city is to do so by air. There are
daily flights from Zagreb
with Croatia Airlines, and weekly flights from several European cities.
British Airways fly from the UK year
round and other carriers including Holiday Options flying from May -
October with flights from just £99 return.
The Hilton Imperial Bar
Dubrovnik can also be reached by bus from Zagreb (which takes about 12 hours), Rijeka, Split
or Trieste in Italy. The most pleasant
journey to the city is probably by Jadrolinija
ferry from Rijeka,
which stops at islands and ports such as Zadar, Split, Hvar and Korcula along the
way, and takes about 17 hours. There are also international ferry services
from Bari in Italy where
Ryan Air fly to.
Things to see:
You will probably enter the old town through the Pile Gate - in front of
you is the Stradun. Here you will find the Onofrio Fountain, built in 1438. On the right is the
Franciscan Monastery, with one of the oldest functioning pharmacies in Europe, in operation since 1391. At the other end of
the Stradun, you will find the locals' favourite meeting place, the Orlando Column, with the
Place and the baroque church of St. Blaise. Here is also the
Rector's Palace, built in 1441, which is now a city museum packed with
valuable and historic exhibits.
Opposite the palace through a narrow
street is a square, Gunduliceva Poljana, which is the site of the busy morning market.
In the same square is the Jesuit Monastery from the early 18th century.
From here you can head for the little old town port and visit the city
walls, built between the 13th and the 16th centuries, which encircle the
city and which have been remarkably preserved. If you are visiting in the
summer, do not miss the world-renowned Dubrovnik Summer Festival, with
music, theatre and dance performances. The version of Hamlet on Lovrijenac
Tower is magic. The
Dubrovnik International Film Festival also runs for three days at the end