Wow, we were in Dubrovnik. We had heard and read so much about this ancient city and were really excited about the opportunity to explore and discover on foot.
After an early breakfast our coach took us across town to the walled old town of Dubrovnik. To enter the town one crosses a bridge over a small river ending in the drawbridge at one of the 2 town entrance gates. As happened in 2000 when we travelled to Zimbabwe and I was getting excited to see a Baobab Tree for the first time since learning about them in Standard 4 (Grade 6), I was excited to actually cross a drawbridge for the first time. It never ceases to amaze me what different senses and knowledge are brought to the fore when travelling and seeing the world.
Crossing a bridge to the drawbridge into the Old City
As in Sarajevo, we had to have a local guide and she was one of a number who carried the well documented umbrella’. Hers was blue and whiteand as she was a tall woman, probably 5’ 10’’ (1.78m) at least, there was no way that we would miss her. There were a lot of tourist groups that morning and the variety of umbrellas was actually quite amazing. It seemed as if there was an agreement among the guides on their umbrella colour and/or size.
A view of Dubrovnic from the Monastary and our guide with her umbrella
The Old Town is situated right on the small boat harbour which used to be the main entrance to the Town. Today the harbour where large ships are moored is on the opposite side of Dubrovnik. It did not appear to be an industrial harbour as we have in Durban, but mainly for tourist ships most of which are huge and bring in hundreds of tourists.
Walking along the harbour wall. In the forefront is a concrete hook for mooring boats
Part of the original Port of Dubrovnic
Another interesting fact we learnt from local residents was about the development of a new golf course. Both golf and tourism were new and growing activities in Dubrovnik and, to try to bring in more funding, the ‘City Fathers’ decided that a golf course would be an excellent asset. When the citizens learnt of this there were many dissenting voices and so it was agreed to hold a referendum. The result was most interesting to us. The majority vote was against the development but, because the percentage of voters as not the required number, the result was considered null and void and the course was in the process of being built when we were there in September 2014! Politics is the same the world over it would seem.
The Adriatic Sea from our hotel
The Old City on the left with the wall and the New City on the right
A row of refubished homes in the Old City
The original well in the Old Town
We really did enjoy the tour of the Old Town which has 2 monasteries, Franciscan and Benedictine. We visited the Franciscan Monastery, built in the 14th Century, first as it is situated right at the entrance to the Town. The monastery is now a museum and one of the most interesting displays is the pharmacy which the Franciscans developed when they arrived as one of their main activities was to take care of the sick.
The Monastery Courtyard
The seat of the senior clergy
One of a number of sculpted hands on the stair rail
A quote above a doorway reading “Forget your private but not your public duties”
On one wall there was a frame with dozens of flags displayed in it and on asking we were told that they represented all the countries from which tourists to the monastery had come. We were not happy to see there was no South African flag and we, with 4 other South Africans on the tour, asked them to please include one. I hope that they did something about it. If anyone who reads this happens to go to Dubrovnik and visit the monastery, please check if it has been added to the frame. I could tell you so much about the monastery alone but space does not allow it. Do visit this website to learn more.
Flags of the countries of visitors (none from SA)
To get to the next street go down this lane and climb 98 stairs!
Trevor climbed the stairs; I walked the long way around
No matter how often one sees these ancient towns said to date back to 300C based on Greek artefacts found, we still stand in awe of how well they have been maintained. After the monastery we walked down what was originally a channel which divided the current town into 2 but was filled in creating a wide street (Stradum) which stretches the full length of the Old Town between the 2 gates. Today there are shops and cafés all along the Stradun with the beautiful ancient apartments, churches and many other buildings.
A side road from the main street (stradum)
Statues on a wall
Looking down the main stradum
Having spent an hour and a half in the Old Town, including spending time on the old harbour wall and deciding not to spend €100 each to walk on the walls around the town, we decided to go to the top of the mountain via the funicular. An excellent decision! Down in the valley of Dubrovnik it had become hot and rather humid but, once at the top of the mountain, we were actually above the cloud cover where it was much cooler and quite a strange feeling. The views over the city, the glorious blue Adriatic Sea and the mountains around the area, are stunning.
The other funicular car
Memorial to all those who died in the 1990s war
We spent a wonderful couple of hours up there, discovering some interesting facts about Dubrovnik and the war of the 1990s. It is often forgotten that Croatia also was involved in those wars, though to a lesser degree than Bosnia-Hezegovina and Serbia. Dubrovnik was besieged for seven months by the Yugoslav National Army and experienced a number of artillery attacks during which nearly 2000 people were killed. On the top of the mountain there a number of memorials to some of these persons.
Monument built for one young man who died
A plaque for 3 young men
After eating lunch up there we returned to town and took a bus back to our hotel. After resting for a few hours we took a long walk down to and along the beach, found a lovely little bistro where we enjoyed a pizza and coffee for dinner ending a very special and educational day.
Entrance to our hotel
A new bridge built post the 1990s war
Some ancient ruins on the side of the road