Beyond the massive tourism that has both plagued and blessed Dubrovnik, something extraordinary awaits any visitor with the slightest interest in history, culture or natural beauty. This city is the reincarnation of the old Republic of Ragusa which, through exemplary and peaceful diplomacy, managed to maintain its independence during some four centuries in the shadow of such giants as Venice and the Ottoman Empire. It was here that slavery was first abolished long before Great Britain ever thought it was a good idea.
Once you overcome the initial charm of the old port, the elegant piazzas, and the elegantly restored Stradun with its limestone and marble paving and its noble palaces, you start scratching beneath the surface and enjoying the ‘beat’ of the side streets. Surprisingly, and despite its relatively small size and tourist-trodden tracks, the Old Town is not lacking in idyllic corners where you have it all for yourself and where you take every photo imaginable.
It doesn’t take much imagination to understand why Dubrovnik is considered the world’s most fabulous medieval walled city. Once you do the inevitable and magnificent tour of the city walls, you realize it’s not just the walls that are fascinating, but also the views of the cityscape that the walls command: Ahead of me, an entire city unfolded. I could contemplate all the houses, all the rooftops; I could gaze at the sea and at the nearby Island of Lokrum. King’s Landing in all its grace! Is it any surprise that this extraordinary city served as the setting for Game of Thrones’ most important city?
The most memorable view though is not one you enjoy from the city itself, but rather from the top of Mount Srd, which you reach through a short yet joyful cable car ride. Only from the top can you enjoy a view of the entire old town of Dubrovnik, as well as an unforgettable sunset if you’re there on time. Back to Dubrovnik, one can roam around the port forever. At the legendary Buza Bar, I stared at the Adriatic waters, imagining a Ragusan merchant ship heading to the Black Sea and how the voyage must have been like (Ragusa was the only European city allowed by the Ottomans to conduct trade in the Black Sea).
The pleasures of the Dalmatian Coast is complemented by the temptations of the Dalmatian gastronomy, and Dubrovnik is a perfect place to experience the Mediterranean cuisine with a Dalmatian twist: the brodet (fish stew), the octopus salad and the smoked swordfish Carpaccio are just a few examples.
Another priceless advantage of Dubrovnik is the fact that it serves as a base camp for tens of maritime adventures and island tours, and I don’t think I would be able to forget the natural beauty of Mljet or Lopud any time soon. I will let the photos do the rest of the talking.