I did it, I finally ticked off another one of the incredible countries on my hypothetical list of all of the enchanting destinations that I would love to visit one day..And dare I say, this one might be the most exciting place I have been to yet!
Unless you have been hiding under a rock, I am certain that you would have already heard about the beautiful City of Dubrovnik, also known as ‘The Pearl of the Adriatic’. Nestled between the Adriatic and Dinaric Alps on the Southern tip of Croatia, Dubrovnik has been voted one of Europe’s best Summer destination of 2017, and once you see everything that this place has to offer, it is pretty easy to understand why! From the historic medieval culture that the City preserves, to the sensational surrounding scenery which is enough to quite literally take your breathe away, it is no wonder that people are flocking there in their thousands every single day..And I am over the moon that I eventually got to experience Dubrovnik for myself, first hand!
Even though I had wanted to travel to Dubrovnik for quite some time, this trip actually happened quite spontaneously..I had a week off of work coming up with no plans set in motion, so I decided to get on my laptop and book my mum and I flights as a surprise for her birthday and we flew just one week later..From experience, I believe that the unplanned trips are usually the most exciting ones! With five full days of exploring and adventure to look forward to in the City, I started researching and making a plan for exactly how we wanted to spend our days there, to make sure that we had the time and the opportunity to get around and see and do everything that we wanted to. With exhilarating activities like Cliff jumping, Kayaking at Sunset and Island hopping on Jet Ski’s to the more relaxing plans of sipping on cocktails at beach bars, walking for miles along the coast and sunbathing by the infinity pool all scheduled into our ‘itinerary’, the five days unsurprisingly filled up pretty quickly. We had some of the most incredible things planned for our trip and I was truly eager to embark on our latest journey together and create many more unforgettable travel memories with my favourite person, my mum! As excited as I was for each and every activity that we had lined up for our time away, there was one day in particular which I personally was most excited for, and that was the day that we had arranged to walk around the entirety of the Old CityWalls of Dubrovnik.
No visit to Dubrovnik would be complete without a walk around arguably the Cities main attraction, the spectacular Old City Walls ..In fact, it is believed that one of the best ways to see Dubrovnik in all of it’s glory is to get high up above the City!
The monumental Walls of Dubrovnik encircle the entirety of the Old Town and are punctuated by Church domes, bell towers and large fortresses, which offer the most sublime, Out-of-this-world views. Whilst you are up there, get lost in time and really take in everything that you see around you. Look down to the crowded cobblestones streets, overlook the patchwork like terra-cotta rooftops of the city buildings, appreciate the impressive St. Lawrence Fortress and indulge in the deep green forests of the close island of Lokrum. Look up to Srđ, the backyard mountain of Dubrovnik and let your eyes gaze wander over the unbelievably turquoise water of the calming Adriatic Sea. It really is something quite extraordinary to experience, and you can easily spend a few hours admiring all of the captivating views and discovering all of the Cities hidden nooks and crannies that it has to offer. In addition to getting the best panorama views of the beguiling scenery, walking the walls also gives you a bird’s-eye view right into the homes and gardens of the city’s residents. You have the opportunity to get little snippets of their everyday life as you pass..See them hanging out washing from their windows, drinking coffee in their garden or even stretching out on the rocks to catch some sun. It is so charming to see them go about their daily routines, albeit you can’t help but wonder what they make of having a parade of tourists wandering past their homes every day and whether they begrudge having to keep their shutters closed just to try and escape the constant eyes and camera lenses. I imagine that it would feel a little uncomfortable for them at times!
The defensive stone Walls run an uninterrupted course of approximately 1.2 miles, encircling the majority of the Old City. The width and the height of the walls varies as you walk around..The sea walls can be as narrow as a metre in some areas, where as the main walls facing the land can be as thick as six metres wide, and they reach a maximum of about a 25 metre height! These walls have been protecting the City for centuries..Whether that is from invaders or earthquakes. The first city walls were built in the 11th century but the shape you see today dates back to the 14th century when Dubrovnik gained independence from Venice. As well as the walls there are four gates to let people in and out, two by land and two by sea, and four fortresses to protect the most vulnerable points. Despite having more than its fair share of attacks over the years, the walls protected Dubrovnik for centuries without ever being breached. But one thing that has left its mark on them is a more recent conflict..The Balkan Wars. The city was subject to major bombing during the 1990s, though it’s hard to spot it now. The only clues you have are the pockmarks left on some buildings and a few roofs which have been restored, with their bright orange newer roof tiles standing out against the more weathered originals. Whilst there are only a few minor signs of the damage of what the war left behind now, seeing it in person definitely leaves quite a surreal feeling in the pit of your stomach, and when you stop for a moment to take it all in, you cannot help but feel saddened at the thought of what the beautiful City went through and be overwhelmed by the history that it holds.
Whilst a lot of history lies within these defensive stone walls, in more recent times they have actually famously become known for being the home of the filming sets to the likes of Game of Thrones and Star Wars, which is just one of the many reasons that makes the Old City Walls one of the first places that the majority of travellers are keen to explore when they arrive in Dubrovnik. Due to it being such a key area for tourists to gravitate towards, my main advice to anyone planning to visit would be to get there early in the morning or late in the afternoon and try to avoid the crowds..and the scorching hot weather, of course!
You are able to walk around the Walls of Dubrovnik as early as 8am and wander around until as late as 7:30pm everyday, and it typically takes around 2 hours to walk around the entirety..Depending on how many times you stop to embrace a photo opportunity! Not taking any notice of my own advice, my mum and I crazily decided to start our walking tour just after lunch time. Much to my surprise it was not too crowded at all whilst we were up there, however after about two and a half hours, the heat was all a bit too much for us. Luckily we stumbled upon a few local cafes, restaurants and bars where we were able to grab a glass of something cold and refreshing to keep us going, but there is no denying the fact that there is not a lot of shade around the walls, so there is no escaping that heat. Nonetheless, we lapped it up, and it was glorious regardless!
Dubrovnik is the perfect city for someone who loves old world charm, antiquity and historic spots. With its awe inspiring landscape, beautiful old town and abundance of character, you can’t fail to be enticed by its many charms, and undoubtably being the cities most famous feature, a full-circuit of the Walls is a definite ‘must’ on any visit made there.
After having the opportunity to explore Dubrovnik for myself, travelling around the rest of Croatia has now quickly made it to the top of my bucket list. Until I experienced it, I had no idea just how beautiful the country is and I am so eager to discover more of what Croatia has to offer!
From your own hypothetical list, Where is the one Country that you would most like to travel to? Have you been to Croatia before?