Friday, 7 September 2012

Dubrovnik-Croatia | Adriatic Enchantment with an Endless Patrimony.

Dubrovnik is undoubtedly one of the great attractions of Croatia an Adriatic enchantment with an endless patrimony,a fantastic place on a marvellous coast,there are not enough adjective to describe the beauty of that unique site so beautiful,charming,with a rich historical past full of events generated by those important civilisations which have left indelible marks and relevant monuments visible with an artistic heritage to take with you in your best scrapbook or albums of your memorable trips after visiting that diamond unique and unforgettable.

 Lord Byron defined Dubrovnik as the Pearl of the Adriatic,a Croatia,not surprisingly it was named for its impressive preserved patrimony a World heritage Site by UNESCO since 1979.Other artists and prominent people admired and praised the beauty of Dubrovnik in several occasions as well as in the case of Bernard Shaw when visited Dubrovnik said : "those who seek paradise on in the world should come to Dubrovnik and see this town." 

Someone could also could say that coastal corner of Croatia is a present from Mother Nature to the world,its spectacular environment is a mixture of fine and golden sandy beaches,wild and charming rocks flanking small picturesque bays,clear and blue waters,small islands facing the old port and the city where every palace has a story to tell.

The history of Dubrovnik started as a small settlement on the site of the actual town in pre-historic times,it was originally an island called Laus which means in Greek rock,and it was,separated from the coastline by a marsh.Nearby that island there was an ancient Greek settlement called Epidauros,then under Roman rule called Epidaurum and with the Emperor Flavius Petrus Sabbatius Iustinianus it became an important Roman colony and a flourishing harbour in the Mediterranean and one of the most active centres in terms of trade and artistic movements of the entire Adriatic.

 That former Epidaurous or Epidaurum is today the town of Cavtat, the ancient Ragusium the old Ragusa and from there started the charming and captivating history of the current Dubrovnik.The name Dubrovnik  is a clear Slavic name  born by the Slav tribes who settled that land in the 7th century.Those new inhabitants founded a settlement next to Srd a mountain of that area which was in that time very rich of oaks and they start  to call it Dubravka,which means forest oaks and from there the name.

During the 9th century the town was fortified to defend the territories against Saracens invasions,it was a period in which that site which already had a more than important past became a stronghold of the Roman Greek Byzantine Empire and a famous trade point between the old Costantinopoli (now Istanbul) and the Northern Mediterranean Adriatic ports with intense commerce towards the current Rijeka,  ,Zadar,Split,PiranTrieste and Venice.

In the 13th century the city was under the powerful Venetian Republic and it received a strong cultural influence from Venice,although from a commercial point of view the city continued to maintain a certain autonomy and independence during that period. 

Venetian rule ended in in the year 1358 in favour of the Croatian-Hungarian,it was a sort of "strange" period in which the new rulers after that Venice left the domain of that territory,the new owners developed a sort of "contract" of no aggression with the Ottoman Empire that happened in the year 1364,that sort of agreement had its price,the Croatian-Hungarian had to go to Istanbul to pay very expensive taxes to the Sultan.

The word strange is because the Turkish Empire which already had occupied several territories of the Balkans and including coastal strategic points on the Adriatic had an attitude as a sentinel checking from the heights of the Dinaric Alps all what happened in that centre,including its merchants had free access to Dubrovnik.Despite that the old Ragusa continued to be very active,including in the 15th century, that "free Republic" developed its own fleet since advancing to Spain, Egypt, Syria, France,Corsica and Sardinia.

In that period Dubrovnik was able to compete with its former ruler Venice but also with the others influential Marine Republics Genoa,Pisa and Amalfi which had larger territories of influence and furthermore there was that sort of pact with the Turks with the chance to reach the Bosphorus,a privileged position but always paying that famous expensive price.

The city a period of splendour including with embassies and sort of consulates in countries as Spain in the Capital of Andalusia,Seville and in occasion of the end of the medieval time with the expedition linked to discovery of America,Dubrovnik participated sending in Spain some skilled sailors with a notable experience on different routes.

It was also also a period of cultural splendour with artists and famous local writers as Marin Drikic and Ivan Gundulic,who wrote the famous epic Osman a famous  narration about the contrasts between Christianity and Islam,East and West, liberated and slavery,Gundulic become an iconic national  symbol launched several critics against the Ottoman Empire domination and its Sultan Osman.

In 1667 the city was almost completely destroyed by an earthquake ans the city suffered a sad decline decline,loosing commercial importance and about new emergent powerful naval countries as Spain and England and the 18th century was a period of emigration and pretty gray under several aspects.

The 19th century is a period of renaissance and decadence,for a brief period under French rule with the occupation by Napoleon and later under Hapsburg domination during the Austrian -Hungarian Empire.In the 20th century,after the fall of the Empire after the 1st World War Dubrovnik entered in the Kingdom of Serbian,Croatian and Slovenians there was also the definitive change of the name,the old Ragusa became for all officially Dubrovnik in a sort of privilege of the Slavic languages.

After the 2nd World War the city joined of the new Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, a federation ruled by the Marshal Josip Broz alias "Tito" managed to keep together the various ethnic groups throughout the country Serbs, Croats,Slovenian,Macedonian and Muslims that they lived together without major separatist tensions.

At the dissolution of the federal republic of Tito's ethnic-nationalist tensions began to take hold, giving way to the war known as the Balkan war,during which Dubrovnik was heavily bombed, with serious consequences particularly on tourism and on 22nd June 1991 leaving the former Yugoslavia Dubrovnik started to be part of the new state of Croatia.

The centre of city is developed between the road Jadranska Cesta which runs from north to south along the coastline and its harbour situated in the shade of the ample peninsula which is crossed by the long avenue Ulica Vladimira Nazora at south and by another important artery Ulica Vukovarska which ends adjacent to the harbour which is situated in a narrow maritime channel just behind the wide headland where are situated the major part of the Hotels situated west of the mainland.

Ulica Iva Vojnovica is another relevant axis which from south enters and crosses until the centre of the peninsula meeting Ulica Iva Dulcica which ends at the most extreme western point of the tip facing from south the small island of Daksa.

The ancient walls which surround Dubrovnik were rebuilt several times,expanded,strengthened over the centuries,the walls are the main feature and of course one of its main highlights,they always played an important role since centuries ago,they were developed to protect the old city including the port which is 1940 meters long,completely walkable and in some point they reach a height of over 25,0 metres.

The walls facing the mainland were between 4,0 and 6,0 metres while those close to the sea are more subtle between 1,5 and  3 meters.Along the perimeter there are 15 defencive towers built in the 15th century. After the conquest of Constantinople by the Turks in the year 1453 the fortresses were reinforced the turned inland and there was a construction of new fortifications and ramparts which reached the final size with a restoration in the 16th century.

The walls have always been of Dubrovnik the southernmost city in Croatia Croatia,also a relevant defencive protection  from the strong winds bora and sirocco upstream from the island of Lokrum.

During the visit a bridge leads you through a perforated door on the old walls dated 1460 so after those famous structures which were developed walls between the 13th and 14th centuries,which are in perfect conditions,well preserved and considered for conservation and scenic aspect among the most beautiful in the world The walls which were erected as reinforcement encircling the city were developed with 15 fortified bastions in the 15th century compressed within a stone curtain of 2,0 kilometres long and reaching 25 metres in height.

 Toranj Minceta is a first tower you can admire,it protected the north side of the city from invasions while the Tvrdava Lovrijenac is the fortress of St.Lawrence,you can see on an imposing cliff close overlooking the Adriatic form a very strategic position,that fort was developed outside the walls as checkpoint and barrier to defend the western side of the city.

The defencive system was also studied by the military engineer of that times to make impenetrable Dubrovnik,before to reach the walls there were those forts located in cardinal points with an ample maritime view,furthermore they were provided by arsenal and artillery batteries,so totally functional in every aspect.

That monumental and impressive fortress was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in the year 1994, in the years 1991 and 1992, during the former Yugoslavia war was bombed suffering serious damages but currently is almost perfectly reconstructed. A walk around the perimeter of the fortress offers a wonderful view of the environment.There is a curious story about that Fort.

 At the beginning of the 11th century, the Venetians had the intention to build its own strength in the same place,to use against the city of Dubrovnik.The city discovered of the intention of the Marine Republic and immediately decided to build a fortress on the cliff, to protect the city from possible attacks and some stories say that fort was built in three months.

When the Venetians came with the materials to build the fortress,they saw the city had already had a fortress.The fort was armed with guns,over the centuries and adapted many times and after the fall of the Republic,it had different purposes as military base during the occupation of the Austrian Empire.In the year 1933, the Fort of Lovrijenac was the venue of several meetings of the PEN club meetings of the world's most eminent writers, who then discovered the city of Dubrovnik,starting to promote the city as a unique a tourist attraction.

Over the centuries, the fortress was the greatest defender of freedom of the city, and engraved above the door is an inscription for the descendants and it says Non bene pro toto venditur auro Libertas which means Freedom can not be sold or for all treasures of the world.

 Another strategic defencive elements were Toranj Bokar,which protects the Pile Gate one of the door of the city and  Tvrdava Revelin is the other fortress protecting the eastern side and entrance of the city. protecting the eastern entrance.

It was erected in the 16th century on an irregular rectangular base,as Toranj Lovrijenac also built outside the walls in front of the gate Ploce which was erected according to the plans of the engineer Antonio Ferramolinna  sent by Spain to Dubrovnik allied of the city in that period.That monumental and impressive building, surrounded by the sea on one side and by three towers on the other sides was the main defencive bastion of the port of Dubrovnik too.

 A bridge leads you through a gate the old walls and from there you enter  in the iconic Stradun also known locally as Placa the main street of the old town of  Dubrovnik running west from Pile Gate to Ploce Gate and the harbour to the east.

Stradun is the  biggest,busiest and most iconic artery and it was once a shallow water channel which subdivided the city.Filled and paved in the 12th century,that wide street was originally surrounded by Gothic and Renaissance buildings mostly destroyed in that sad earthquake in the year 1667, which devastated several relevant historic buildings.

That beautiful promenade is a sort of soul of Dubrovnik,yesterday like today,very busy and lively,packed by tourists and locals,shops and taverns,it is the beating heart and along it you will reach Poljana Paška Miličevića a charming square where lies Onofrijeva a fountain which was built in the year 1238 as part of a water supply system which brought drinkable water from a well situated at 12,0 kilometres from there.

In that place was built a majestic adorned fountain with several statues but that terrible earthquake of the 17th century destroyed it, and retain only 16 masks carved from their mouths flowing jets of water.

The first Church you can see entering in the Old City through the Pile Gate facing the fountain Onofrijeva is
Crkva Sveti Spasa a Church dedicated to St.Savior.With its beautiful Gothic -Renaissance facade,that Religious building was erected in the 16th century by Petar Andrijic of Korcula who started the construction in the year 1520 ending it eight years later and  is one of the few structures which were not damaged by the earthquake in the 1667.

Developed on a rectangular plan,the facade shows a splendid rose window,it has a splendid nave highlighted by a charming Gothic rib vault,the design of that Church is very particular it links some different architectonic details linked to different styles,the rose window and the material used including the plan can be considered typically Gothic,while the framed portal and lines which form the roof took a traditional Renaissance inspiration with those sinuous curves on its cost sides in the upper section of the frontal facade,including the roof has more affinity to a post medieval building.

Someone says it was influenced by the Cathedral of Sibenik,another beautiful place to visit in Croatia, declared World Heritage by UNESCO. What is certain, however is that style of the Church has influenced several others in all Dalmatia,but in particular the Cathedral of Hvar.The interior of the church was recently renovated with marble and painted ceilings.

In Poljana Paška Miličevića square adjacent to that Church there is also the entrance to another relevant historic attraction of the city Franjevacki Samostana the Franciscan Monastery which is a complex formed by a Church and a convent which was ruled by Franciscan monks.

The building representing the Church is very imposing a high stoned structure on a huge rectangular plan,pretty sober in its architectonic lines,austere with a majestic domed tower of Byzantine inspiration with three lines of arched windows of different size on the upper section,the most attractive part is definitely the cloister dated 14th century which is one of the most beautiful late Romanesque constructions of all Dalmatia and including Croatia.

 It is accessed through a narrow alley by the church of St.Saviour and among the old features still preserved is the south gate designed in 1499 in Venetian Gothic style and with a beautifully carved Pieta in the lunette and it also includes a single nave and a marble pulpit dated 15th century.

In that Romanesque masterpiece you will notice and admire the perfect lines and design of some Gothic elements,exhibits double columns covered with sculptures of humans, animals and plants, and a lovely garden with a fountain erected in the 15th century in the centre.Splendid is also the vaulted and paved covered hallway flanking the cloister,the perspective is splendid with a magnificent series of small double columns with capitals and tiny pedestals placed on a low wall forming on the top tiny arcades.

The interior of the cloister arranged on an irregular square and packed by palm trees and Mediterranean vegetation will show you also the perfect symmetry of the columns supporting a stoned wall in which you can note a wide oculus which was probably the set of a rose window and from the centre of the courtyard another highlight is looking at over you the splendid view of the domed bell tower from another perspective.

In the interior you can visit one of the most relevant historic highlights of the Croatian city Stara Ljekarna the old pharmacy, which has been in operation since 1317 and aims to be the one of the oldest in Europe,it is for age and establishment the third oldest pharmacy of the Continent.

In medieval times it was a sort of icon for its relevant activity well known in a big part of the Balkans apart to be the most important of Dalmatia.Completely escaped from the earthquake today is one the most interesting part of  this religious building.

The Muzej Franjevacki Samostana,the Franciscan Museum  is in another room of the monastery and it exhibits a collection of religious art and objects belonging to the ancient Franciscan order in Dalmatia.

That order started to be very active all along the coastline and including in villages located in the Dinaric Alps,very active also in small centre with theology schools in those monasteries and developing several historic archives who were useful for writers,historians and researchers,furthermore they were very considered by the populations because they hosted many people escaping from the Ottoman domains in particular during Venetian rule in Dalmatia.

Walking once again along Stradun this splendid promenade with modern shops,bars and small  cafes you can reach Pravoslavne Crkva which is the beautiful Serbian Orthodox Church of Dubrovnik.That Orthodox Temple was erected in the 19th century between 1865 and 1877 and dedicated to the Virgin Mary of the Annunciation,it shows stupendous lines of clear Byzantine inspiration-

It is a light high building developed on a rectangular plan with a central nave and a rectangular doorway surmounted by a line composed by three groups of triple stained glass windows,notable are the decorations around them and the two domed belfry which reflects the typical shape of a Christian Orthodox temple and you can notice from the frontal side the splendid lines of the cornices framing the borders of the roof.

The Church contains a series of interesting icons, mainly Byzantine and Cretan some of them dated 15th and 16th century,despite the excellent aspect and a charming silhouette that building was largely restored after several damages sue the bombs on Dubrovnik in occasion of the war in the former Yugoslavia in the 90s.

 About Orthodox icons,the mansion of Bonda, next to that Orthodox Church hosts a relevant collection of 77 icons dating from the 15th to the 19th centuries, in different styles and origins: from Dubrovnik, Dubrovnik,Crete,Venice,Russia and also some the old Byzantine and the collection also includes eight portraits of prominent citizens of Dubrovnik painted by Vlaho Bukovac.In addition to those relevant masterpieces,there is also a library  which contains a copy of Miroslav Gospels dating from the 12th century.

Not far from  the Orthodox Church and as symbol of the cosmopolitan Dubrovnik you can see the old local Synagogue which is dated 1352 and it is the second oldest in Europe after that of Prague and the Jewish Museum they are located  in a building which was formerly part of the Jewish ghetto in the Dalmatian city.

That Jewish temple is small but charming, with velvet curtains and a ceiling richly painted midnight blue.The interesting museum contains valuable objects and Torah scrolls,furthermore information about the history of the city's Jewish community which was very active in medieval times with several artisans and traders who helped the local productive local economy in the golden ages of Dubrovnik.

 In the late 15th century, after the exodus from Portugal and Spain of several Jewish after the reforms of the Catholic Kings after the famous Reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula was founded in Dubrovnik a permanent Jewish Sephardi community.

Many Jews from those countries were attracted to the city for its cosmopolitan life opened to different cultures and pretty tolerant furthermore it was an important centre of trade and commerce of high level in Europe,in that period in the city lived different communities,Croats,Italian Montenegrin,Serbian and Greeks.

Those new inhabitants formed a new colony,in addition in the 16th century,exactly on May 1544, a ship landed in the port of the city filled exclusively by Jewish Portuguese who enjoyed relative freedom,despite as new citizens and with many activities already controlled there were some restrictions on its activities during certain periods until the year year 1571.

That year was a sort of a first soft economic decline,(the second came after the sad earthquake) Dubrovnik sold some of its protectorates to the Ottoman Empire to France and Venice,at that time there was also a colony of Dubrovnik in Fes in Morocco,many Jews left the city with destination Central Europe.

Luza is an historical square, where once the market was concentrated and in that place is located a stoned pillar with the figure of a medieval warrior clad in arms with a sword and a shield carved into the column.It was carved by master Antun Dubrovcanin  in 1418,that statue is a symbol of the freedom of Dubrovnik and during national ceremonies,always flies the flag of the Republic of Croatia.

The history of that construction is linked with the the hero Roland,who according to a legend  helped to liberate the dangerous siege of Dubrovnik by Saracens pirates in the 8th century, and the citizens claimed a column in his honour.The Pillar of Roland, known in Croatia as Orlando,as you know is that iconic hero, the legendary knight nephew of Charlemagne and who died heroically in Roncesvalles in the Pyrenees in the year 778,famous also because in particular in the 15th century his image started to adorn many places in central Europe as a symbol of freedom and independence.

Next to that monument you can admire another emblematic monument the beautiful Clock Tower which was built in the year 1444 and rebuilt several times, most recently in the year 1929.It  is characterised by two bronze figures in the steeple bells ring every hour,the bell was built by Ivan Krstitelj in the year 1506 and  despite wars,earthquakes and bombings,still sounds every hour with incredible accuracy.The impressive tower is 31 meters high and like in other city as Prague,Munich,Bern there is an allegoric figure on the bell tower called  Zelenci a green little man who goes to ring the bells.

Crossing Luza Square you can admire a symbol of the city,Sponza Palace,thr history of that building is full of events,it was originally used as customs house,later used as palace of the treasury and finally it hosted a bank.Today it houses the State archives which contains an important collection of manuscripts that date back almost a thousand years ago.

You will notice that the building is a mixture of architectonic styles,starting from the beautiful Renaissance portico developed on six columns,there are also Neo Gothic elements as the windows on the second floor,Neo Renaissance inspirations are present in the portal and in the windows of the first floor but all is pretty harmoniously well combined and on the second floor you can see a statue depicting St. Blaise in a corner.

Sponza Palace continues to play an official role containing the archives of Dubrovnik,with over 100,000 documents including books and manuscripts.Although the State Archives can not be visited, you can still see the Memorial Room of Dubrovnik Defenders,which commemorates those who died defending the city in early 1990.During Dubrovnik Summer Festival there are often concerts in the courtyard of the Palace which has an excellent acoustic.Next to Sponza Palace is situated Crkva Sveta Vlaha the Church dedicated to  St. Blaise who is the Patron Saint and Protector of the city.Built in the year 1715 on the site of an earlier Religious building destroyed in the earthquake and reusing part of that former building.

You will note in that Baroque Church many things in common about style and architectonic elements with the Church of St.Maurice in Venice.The original construction was developed in Romanesque style 14th century, but was badly damaged by that sad earthquake in the year 1667 and furthermore was almost totally destroyed by a fire in the year 1706.

The Church was rebuilt in its current Baroque style the fist stone was laid in 1706 and ended nine years later.That Religious building is based on the level of a typical Greek cross covered by a dome and it houses numerous works,  statue of gold plated silver of St. Blaise, dated 15th century of the located on the main altar.

Not far from that Church there is one of the most beautiful buildings in the city Rectoral Prev Dvorom
The Chancellor's Palace erected in a splendid Gothic-Renaissance style built in the late 15th century with an extraordinary sculptural decorations.The beautiful courtyard is one of its main highlights and it is used for activities during the Dubrovnik Summer Festival.Seat of the Chancellor it changed its appearance after two explosions of gunpowder stored there.

Its present appearance is mainly due to the Renaissance designs by Juraj Dalmatinac from  Zadar and Michelozzo Michelozzi from Florence in the year 1460.Other changes were added in Baroque style in the 17th century after the earthquake.

Since the original building Onofrio della Cava creator of the sources and the aqueduct of the city and the palace,it had a Gothic aspect while as you will notice is the result of a mixture of  styles.The facade has a lovely porch and the choir stalls are another beautiful attraction with decorative stones.The palace also hosts a a museum where you can admire offices and rooms of the President, in addition to the arsenal, and prison cells.

Across the square you can admire Stolna Crkva Velike Gospe the Cathedral of the Assumption,built on the site of the Basilica of the 7th century.Expanded in the 12th century, presumably as a result of a present of the English King Richard I the legendary Lionheart,who was rescued from a shipwreck off the nearby island of Lokrum.

 After the destruction of the old Romanesque Cathedral dating back the 12th  century  destroyed in the great earthquake of 1667 the construction of a new new building started in the year 1672 and  completed in 1713 in Baroque style.The elegant Cathedral with its charming pale gray in twilight pink colours, is an example of the often quoted phrase city of stone and light by Jure Kastelan.Notable and with a majestic aspect is the facade with its three three portals and adjacent neoclassic columns on pedestals under a stoned step.

In the upper section very stylish is the front with a big pediment balustrades in Italian style with statue while behind detaches a marvellous dark dome.On the sides you will note a series of semi circular stained glass windows and from there there is a further rectangular doorway as access to the apse.

The Cathedral is famous for its rich interiors and the Riznica Katedrala which is the section dedicated to the treasure of the Temple  including relics of Saint Blaise, it is believed that gold sarcophagus contain the head and foot of the Saint and the tomb is a work dating back the 11th century by Byzantine masters.

Other highlights are the main altar,a painting of the Assumption by the Venetian painter Titian,other works by artists of Venetian and Dalmatian schools and a a splendid Baroque organ framed by several decorative details,in addition you can admire a series of beautiful arcades and well outlined vaults which give that Religious temple a relevant architectonic charm.

Leaving the cathedral  and walking along Androvica street and you will see long series of steps  designed by Italian Pietro Passalacqua  reminiscent of the famous Scalinata di Piazza di Spagna the emblematic Spanish Steps in Rome,although those majestic steps were severely damaged during the siege of the city in the years1991 and 1992, have now been restored and they show the splendid image and aspect of the past.

That stair lead  to Crkva Sveti Ignacija the Jesuit Church dedicated to St. Ignatius of Loyola,the largest house of worship of Dubrovnik.That other architectonic masterpiece is highlighted by a huge pediment with pinnacles over a wide rectangular window and very interesting is the composition of detailed elements as inter winded lines,lunettes and decorations in the contour of the portal.Developed on a large and a long plan,in the interior you can admire a marvellous Baroque altarpiece under a wonderful painted dome flanked by high arcades.

That Baroque Church was designed following the model and taking as inspiration the famous Chiesa del Gesù in Rome, the mother church of the Jesuit order.The structure of a single nave was designed by the Italian architect Andrea Pozzo who worked in the development of several Jesuit temples throughout Europe.Completed in the years 1725 some decorations are by the Spanish artist Cayetano García according to the plans of Pozzo and it includes frescoes depicting scenes from the life of Saint Ignatius.A relevant detail is that it is said the the bell of that Church is the oldest of Dubrovnik.

Worth a visit also Dominikanski Samostan Crkva the Church and Dominican Monastery of the city dated 14th century.That marvellous work of Gothic-Renaissance architecture was developed at the same time of the walls of the city in the 15th century by local artists following the design of the Florentine architect Michelozzo di Bartolomeo,the building was modified several times over the centuries.

Developed on a large rectangular plan it consist in  a single nave with apse presenting some beautiful stained glass windows and a Romanesque south portal is surrounded by a Gothic arch.The main attraction in its interior is a Gothic cross by Paolo Veneziano while other notable pieces of art are a statue of the Virgin and a relief by Ivan Mestrovic and a painting by Vlaho Bukovac.The art collection of the Dominican friars on display in the museum of the monastery, whose numerous exhibitions highlights the famous painting of Mary Magdalene by the Venetian master Titian.

The imposing bell tower erected on a square plan is a mix of Baroque and Romanesque,you can admire in its design the perfect and sinuous curves of its double arched windows a square upper section surmounted by a polygonal belfry topped by a cross.

The wonderful cloister is one of the major attractions of that Monastery,that square space is surrounded by a symmetrical charming columns over it you can admire a series of circular decorated rosettes,simply magnificent are the lines of the arches in perfect harmony with the stoned walls of the hallway developed just behind them.In the centre is situated a charming well on a stoned pedestal flanked by two columns with capitals which support a bar topped by a cross.

That place  have been an important centre of philosophy and theology since its founding in 1390 until today since its foundation it was one of the most relevant centre of studies of the entire Dalmatia with an eminent reputation which reached its popularity including during the Austrian-Hungarian Empire in the court of Vienna.

 Prijeko Ulica and Puca Ulica are among the most beautiful streets of the city full of bars, souvenir and jewelry shops and trendy restaurants,ideal places for a break and a stop after an intense visit in a city so full and packed by such relevant artistic and historic patrimony.

Apart its distinctive monumental image,Dubrovnik  also offers a wide range of museums to visit.Etnografski Muzej the Ethnography Museum is definitely one of the most relevant also because it shows and introduces the visitor to the reality of the city in an extensive exhibition explaining in details the local life.

Housed in an old building built between 1542 and 1590,it was founded in the year 1919, it displays apart a collection with utensils,objects and pieces linked to the local agriculture activity,a new permanent exhibition opened with five thousand pieces distributed in three floors of the museum.That section features samples of traditions and customs, cultural heritage and economic status of Dubrovnik in the course of its most important historic steps.

There are approximately 8000 treasures and objects belonging to the local cultures of Croatia.In addition to all that.the folk costumes and textiles section offer a real glimpse of the region of  Dalmatia also illustrating in details also the current  popular culture which is still present in particular in small centre which continue after century to keep their secular traditions transmitted generation by generation.

Umjetnicka Galerija also known as Moderna Muzej, hosts exhibitions on the ground floor and a gallery of local painters such as Vlaho Bukovac,alias Biagio Faggioni Marko Rekca ,Ivo DuIcic and Anton Masle among others.That exhibition is very interesting to discover the local painting and artists which developed in their works sentiments,ideas and concepts rooted in the Croatian renaissance,with their styles which are in part linked to the German Romanticism,bur also the French Impressionism all that keeping in colours,subject and scenes and executions of their works keeping a national spirit.   

The Maritim Muzej  is one of the most important museums of the city.It exhibits models of galleons and ships which ere once built there and together with the plans of the files were used to develop replicas which you can see today in the port of Gruz while the nearest Dubrovnik Aquarium has a variety of native fish and other species coming from the oceans swimming in 27 large tanks,you can see there scorpions fish, lobsters, groupers and many others ,furthermore colourful anemones,corals, nails, sea urchins and seahorses.

.The port has always been a vital resource of the city.Since all the city's wealth was based until tourism but much before came the navigation and maritime commerce,including was also developed a notable activity linked to shipyards.The harbour has played an important role in other aspects,including military since the Venetian times,it was one of the main bases of the fleet of the Republic Marine to organise the operations in the Adriatic in the battles against the Ottomans apart the intense mercantile life.

In Dubrovnik as you can notice during the visit is like there are two cities in one and two ports,one is the section closer to the old city UNESCO Patrimony site and it kept its seafaring soul,used by vessels in ancient time and fishermen while the other one is that mainly dedicated in the activity related to ferries which take you to the islands around, harbour Jadrolinija ferries.The dimensions of the modern port are quite large and it can be accessed from different parts of the city.From there port you can take some ferries visiting the nearest small islands.

Excursions to Elaphiti Islands are perfect for that.That small archipelago is a group of small islands, which the ancient Greeks have named Elafiti meaning deer islands,you can go through them during the day to some such as Lopud,Mljet, Sipan, Kolocep and  Korcula among others.

To get there, should approach to the modern part of town, the main harbour where ferries depart to those destinations.All shuttle stops three islands, and the price is the same regardless of the stop Only three islands are populated with small villages.

Sipan is the largest and most populated,it has a large Hotel and a pleasant village.Situated in the deep inlet of the largest island Sipan is a typical Dalmatian village and Sipanska Luka is its harbour.The inhabitants of that village live with the rhythms and traditions of the past,in that place it seems that time stands still,peaceful and relaxing,the myths,the rich history of the island aristocracy who had there,their summer residences a place where landed Kings,Dukes and Counts.

The dense Mediterranean vegetation,crystal clear water and the breezes of summer nights make that site with its  perfect environment the right place to escape from the rhythms of the city life. The proximity of the city, which is about one hour by local boats obviously is an incentive including for locals who love to spend there relaxing times.

Lopud is a beautiful island which has a shape from a perspective similar to a butterfly.You get to the small harbour, and then everything is by foot, there are no vehicles on that island,the village consists of houses of local people and a little fishing harbour.

You can easily reach the beaches near the inhabited agglomeration or across the island to go to another beach further away,but in summer, not necessarily with fewer people.The island is the second largest island of the Elaphiti Archipelago and there are ferries that cross the three islands,leaving about five times a day,you can easily get in the morning and return to Dubrovnik in the evening.The island has two hills,the highest is Polacica, about 200 metres high.Between the two hills by a footpath you can reach the beach of Sunj, on the other side of the island.

 Kolocep is another of the three islands which are populated .It is very  close to Dubrovnik, in fact, is the closest to the coast of the archipelago.It is the southernmost island of Croatia and from there you are at only 22,0 kilometres from the border of the Republic of Montenegro.There are no vehicles on the island and it has 150 people live, but there are some little hotels and the famous restaurant Kalamota very appreciated by locals too.That island suffered in its past also for the proximity of the city and for the strategic geographic position several attacks and invasions and it was conquered by Greeks,Romans and Napoleon.

The islands did not suffer too much in the war of the former Yugoslavia, and the local buildings were not not destroyed or severely damaged as Dubrovnik.Historically they were generally before the advent of the intense tourism frequented by middle-class families of the city who came there during summer season to spend sunny days in a peaceful place.

Do not miss to take a look to Most Dr Franje Tudmana, the name is  from Franjo Tudjman former president of the Croatian Republic.The bridge is a kind of suspended wire cable type and on the western side of the access road there is a viaduct 66,0 meters long.The length of the bridge is 518 metres and the clearance is 50,0 metres.Until the construction of the bridge at the western entrance of the city of Dubrovnik, was accessed through the Adriatic tourist road from Rijeka.

The bridge has led to savings of time and has been shortened about 14,0 kilometres and therefore has contributed to the rapid development of the suburbs of Dubrovnik such as as Orasac,Vrbica,Zaton Lozica and Stikovica.

Dubrovnik hosts several Festivals and International events.The annual Dubrovnik Summer Festival is a 45 day-long cultural event with live plays,concerts and games.It has been awarded a Gold International Trophy for Quality in the year 2007 by the Editorial Office in collaboration with the Trade Leaders Club.Dubrovnik Karneval the Carnival of the city is celebrated three days before Ash Wednesday the exact dates each year depending on the Christian calendar.People in mask fills the streets, dancing and singing and the famed and iconic Stradun becomes protagonist packed by locals and tourists in an atmosphere highlighted by numerous masked balls.

Dubrovnik International Film Festival after the award of the Palme d'Or at Cannes in Croatia began another international film festival perhaps less prestigious than the famous French but sure as much audience participation.The dates vary according to the date of the event in Cannes.Libertas Film Festival,since the year 2004, in late June,early July is another exceptional film event with a week of outdoor screenings in different places.

Dubrovackim Ljetnim Igrama Dubrovnik Summer Festival is  the most important event of the city and one of the largest in the entire Croatia. From July until the end of August,the city lives a magic air and atmosphere with parties, music performances,classical concerts and several cultural events celebrated in many key points of that Dalmatian city such as theatres, historical buildings,streets,parks and beaches.

An annual event with the theatre of Shakespeare in the charming outdoor arena in the courtyard of the Fort Lovrijenac that appointment apart to be a relevant cultural event also has a notable reputation for the high quality performances linked to the British artist in a scenery unique,that charming and scenic fortress which is an emblematic and distinctive place of the city.Another appointment is the a feast linked to a Religious theme dedicated to the Patron Saint of the city is Sveti Vlaho,Saint Blaise,on 3rd February with a Mass and parade in the city.

Christmas in Dubrovnik is really splendid with The Christmas Fair celebrated at Sponza Palace in an enchanting atmosphere with lights, music,scents and flavors reflecting all the local traditions and furthermore as another attraction linked to that period from 28 December to 2 January is also celebrated the Classic Regatta which call several people from abroad too.

The local cuisine in Dubrovnik is very varied and  happily appreciated for aesthetic and gastronomic quality.
fish is definitely one of its main highlights.The Brujet is fish soup typical of that place prepared with eel,cod,mussels,prawns,monkfish,garlic,onion,tomato,white wine,olive oil and salt really tastefully.Notable is also the tradition to combine fish and seafood to rice,the Crni Rizot is similar to an Italian risotto prepared with onion,garlic,butter,pepper and exquisite fresh squid while a variant is the Rizot with fresh clams.

Na Bijelo Bakala is another delicious plates combining cod with potatoes and very traditional is also the Na Buzaru consisting in shellfish,scampi, sautéed with garlic,olive oil,salt,pepper parsley and white wine.

The Orada is also another speciality very appreciated,it consists in grilled sea brass cooked with olive oil,salt, pepper,adding lemon and some herbs accompanied by potatoes and salad the same recipe is with an excellent dentex which is another fish of high level for its flavour and always fresh on the Dalmatian coast.
The Na Leso is another recipe which can contain dentex but also other fish as grooper and prepared with pepper,salt,garlic,onion,laurel,wine and vinegar,that plate is often accompanied by salads,but also by cabbage,boiled potatoes or chards too.

Among the meat worth a mention the Vitalac a recipe made of lamb rolled in the guts and roasted .Capture the attention of even the taste of  the local Pasticada, a traditional peasant plate consisting in beef marinated and stuffed with bacon,pepper and garlic, then served with very fine noodles and sprinkled with a tasty sauce made with red wine.Do  not miss the taste of well-known Dalmatian ham Pršut, often served with local olives in starters,snacks and appetisers.

The Dalmatian desserts are usually made with fruit, dried figs, almonds and honey and are known as Rafioli, and Mandulat Smokvenjak.The Turkish influences and brings in sweets like the famous Baklava and one type of pudding called Rožata or even the popular Palačinke very similar to the Hungarian and Austrian often present in menu and in the traditional local gastronomy in family,excellent are also the local Fritule and Krostule.

Dalmatian wines deserve a separate comment, as well as all the wines of Croatia,wines which have a very high quality,there is a long list,many kind grapes are cultived on the hills from Istria to Southern Dalmatia, favoured by a climate ideal to create from those vineyards fine and selected wines,the Mediterranean and Alpine Dinaric breezes they embrace themselves in that geographic point and the grape collects all the properties of them combined with a more than fertile soil.

The altitude of the cultivation can be different generally the vineyards are developed under the 500,0 metres of altitude,the result is a wine very smooth and robust about the reds,aromatic,savoury and classy the wines,including the local Malvasia and Moscatel sweet wines show a perfect colour.

Those wines highly palatable are also famous for their texture and notable versatility.Many can replace another in a meal,that is another features,there are similar grapes offering a selected choice some excellent are the Dingac, Postup Peninsula Peljeac,Marastina in particular from Vinarija Benkovac-

The area od Sibenik also has a great reputation with its local Opol,Babic and a very appreciated local Merlot.Including on the islands of Hvar,Korcula,Brac and in others there are superb wines,such as Plavac, Admiral, Bolski Opol,Bogdanusa,Faros,Ivan Dolac,Posip,a long list for exigent palates which will satisfy every taste and the most demanding requests.

The city offers a lively atmosphere at night and you can enjoy the several trendy clubs and Music Bars around the city such as "Eastwest beach club","Labirint","Fuego" and "Lazareti".

The airport Zracna Luka Dubrovnik Čilipi is located approximately 20,0 kilometres south east of the city.Buses connect the airport to and from Dubrovnik and the main bus station is in Gruž. In addition, a network of buses connects all Dubrovnik neighbourhoods running frequently from dawn to midnight.

Dubrovnik is a spectacular destination,not many cities in Europe can offer a great historical patrimony, beaches,an archipelago with beautiful small islands,culture,an excellent gastronomy,all that are the ingredients to choose that Adriatic pearl as a splendid destination all year for unforgettable holidays and short breaks.

The ancient Ragusa is a treasure always shining,every time ready to enchant tourists and travellers,the captivating secrets and the charm which embrace that Dalmatian jewel with its enchantment are absolutely unique.

Francesco Mari

Recommended Hotels in Dubrovnik 

Hilton Imperial Dubrovnik 
Hotel More 
Hotel Kazbek 
Hotel Excelsior & Spa 
Hotel Bellevue 
Hotel Gran Villa Argentina 
Hotel Ariston 
Hotel Royal Princess
Hotel Valamar Lacroma Dubrovnik