Dubrovnik, Croatia

Dubrovnik is one of the best preserved walled-in cities in the world. Come see why this UNESCO World Heritage Site is the most popular tourist destination in Croatia and a frequent filming location for the HBO show Game of Thrones.

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1 Fort Lovrijenac next to Old Town Dubrovnik, Croatia

In the early 11th century, the sea-facing, 40 foot thick walls of Fort Lovrijenac were constructed in three months to fend off a pending Venetian attack. Nicknamed “Dubrovnik’s Gibraltar,” St. Lawrence Fortress stands on a 121 foot cliff along Pile Bay near the western edge of Old Town. Above its entrance is an inscription from the Aesop fable “Of Dog and the Wolf.” It says, “Freedom is not sold for all of the gold in the world.” Fans of the HBO series “Game of Thrones” will recognize this as part of King’s Landing, the capital of the Seven Kingdoms.

Ul. od Tabakarije 29, 20000, Dubrovnik, Croatia

2 City Wall and Minčeta Tower in Dubrovnik, Croatia

When approaching Dubrovnik by land, your first view of its massive city walls makes a lasting impression. They are about 20 feet thick with regularly spaced cannon ports. Looming in the background is the Minčeta Tower. At 80 feet it is the tallest part of the city. Both of these elements of the city’s formidable defense system were built in the mid-15th century.

Ul. Iza Grada, 20000, Dubrovnik, Croatia

3 Pile Gate West Entry into Dubrovnik, Croatia

The main entrance to Stari grad Dubrovnik or Dubrovnik’s Old Town is through the Pile Gate. Look up before walking through this early 16th century Outer City gate. Above the arch is a statue of a bearded man wearing a robe and a mitre or bishop’s hat. He is holding a staff and a model of the city. This is Saint Blaise who is Dubrovnik’s patron saint. You’ll see his image repeatedly inside one of the world’s best walled-in cities. Now proceed through the Vrata od Pilla to discover why this entire town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Ul. Vrata od Pila, 20000, Dubrovnik, Croatia

4 St. Saviour Church in Dubrovnik, Croatia

The first structure you will encounter after entering the Pile Gate is Crkva sv. Spasa. This humble, Renaissance style Catholic church was finished in 1528. The elegant rose window and two columns of St. Saviour Church survived a 1667 earthquake so it appears much like it did in the early 16th century.

Poljana Paska Miličevića, 20000, Dubrovnik, Croatia

5 Close up of St. Saviour Church in Dubrovnik, Croatia

Dubrovnik suffered from an earthquake in 1520. The event was frightening but caused minimum damage. This prompted the Senate to commission Petar Andrijić to build the St. Saviour Church. The cherubs are unraveling a scroll with a Latin inscription giving thanks to Jesus Christ for sparing the town. Among the other ornate carvings over the portal is the winged angel in the pediment.

Poljana Paska Miličevića, 20000, Dubrovnik, Croatia

6 Franciscan Monastery Tower in Dubrovnik, Croatia

The Franciscan friars established the Monastery of St. Thomas outside of Dubrovnik’s walls in the Pile area around 1235. When they feared attacked in the early 14th century, they relocated inside the citadel. That structure was lost during an earthquake in 1667 and then reconstructed. This Franciscan Monastery tower is located near Pile Gate at the western edge of Old Town.

Placa 2, 20000, Dubrovnik, Croatia

7 Little Brothers Church Door in Dubrovnik, Croatia

Most of the Franciscan Monastery in Dubrovnik was destroyed during an earthquake in 1667. One of the architectural elements that survived was this doorway on the south side of the Franciscan Monastery. It dates from 1499. When the monastery was reconstructed in the late 17th century, it was moved to become the entry to the Little Brothers church.

Placa 2, 20000, Dubrovnik, Croatia

8 Pietà Carving on Little Brothers Church Door in Dubrovnik, Croatia

Dubrovnik was under the rule of the Republic of Venice from 1205 until 1358. But even when they became a free state, Venetian art continued to influence their architecture. In Italy, this image of the Virgin Mary cradling the crucified Christ is called Pietà. Flanking her are the statues of St. Jerome on the left and St. John the Baptist. On top is God the Father. This exquisite ensemble was carved by Leonard and Petar Petrović towards the end of the 15th century. It is above the entry to the Little Brothers church which is part of the Franciscan Monastery.

Placa 2, 20000, Dubrovnik, Croatia

9 Franciscan Monastery Cloister in Dubrovnik, Croatia

No visit to Dubrovnik is complete without admiring the Franciscan Monastery Museum and especially the lower cloister from the 14th century. In order to fully appreciate the genius of its architect, Mihoje Brajkov of Bar, you must step into the inner courtyard. Above the ornate oval window is a row of decorative pilasters. Surrounding you are 120 columns. Look closely and you’ll notice each of the capitals in this colonnade has a different carving. This is a magnificent example of Renaissance and Gothic architecture.

Placa 2, 20000, Dubrovnik, Croatia

10 Franciscan Monastery Fresco in Dubrovnik, Croatia

Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone was born into a wealthy family in 1181 and enjoyed the high life until he had a vision early in the 13th century. He then lived among the poor and began preaching. Soon afterwards he founded the Catholic Order of Minors, better known as the Franciscans. Along the walls of the Franciscan Monastery are a dozen frescos depicting scenes from the life of St. Francis of Assissi. This one shows him arriving on shore during one of his sea voyages to spread the Gospel. The museum also contains over 20,000 historical items including 1,200 manuscripts.

Placa 2, 20000, Dubrovnik, Croatia

11 Friars Minor Pharmacy in Dubrovnik, Croatia

The Friars Minor Pharmacy was established in 1317 to serve the medical needs of the monks and the public. It is considered to be the world’s third oldest. Surprisingly, it is still in operation. In 1938, a pharmacy museum was opened to display old vases, lab equipment and other medical artifacts.

Placa 2, 20000, Dubrovnik, Croatia

12 Placa, the Main Street of Dubrovnik, Croatia

Dubrovnik’s primary promenade is Stradun street or what the locals call Placa. The latter is a derivative from the Latin word “platea” which simply means “street.” It runs for about 1,000 feet from the west to the east and roughly divides the town in half. Its two bookends are the Franciscan Monastery Tower (shown on the left) and the Bell Tower. This main street was created during the 13th century and was paved with limestone around 1468. The buildings on either side were all built after the 1667 earthquake and have a uniform, Baroque appearance in adherence to strict construction laws.

Ul. Između Polača 18, 20000, Dubrovnik, Croatia

13 Orlando’s Column in Luža Square in Dubrovnik, Croatia

From 1102 until 1526, Dubrovnik was part of the Kingdom of Croatia in union with Hungary. Symbolic of this protective arrangement was a legendary knight named Orlando (also called Rolando). A larger than life sculpture of the hero stands on this column bearing his name in Luža Square. It was sculpted in 1418. During the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, the platform on top was used by orators for proclamations. The square was the venue for public punishments.

Luža ulica, 20000, Dubrovnik, Croatia

14 Bell Tower at Luža Square in Dubrovnik, Croatia

The prominent landmark at the eastern edge of Old Town is this Bell Tower. It was originally built in 1444 and then rebuilt in 1929. The Renaissance style tower looms 102 feet over Luža Square. Every hour the sounds of Gradski Zvonik rings out thanks to bronze soldiers named Marco and Baro who hammer a bell that dates from 1506.

Luža ulica, 20000, Dubrovnik, Croatia

15 Cable Car up Mount Srđ in Dubrovnik, Croatia

At a quick glance you see the Bell Tower and the Sponza Palace. Look closer and you’ll see the Dubrovnik Cable Car. This attraction opened in 2010. While your cabin climbs 1,361 feet up the side of the Mount Srđ, you’ll have great views of the city and the sea. It only gets better when you’re standing on the platform at the top. You can also explore Fort Imperial which was built in 1812. The museum inside tells the story of the brutal attack by the Serbian and Montenegrin armies in 1991 during the Croatian War of Independence.

Luža ul. 3-1, 20000, Dubrovnik, Croatia

16 Onofrio’s Little Fountain in Dubrovnik, Croatia

There are two Onofrio’s Fountains in Dubrovnik named after their designer, Onofrio della Cava. The larger and most famous is near Pile Gate. This one on the east side is Onofrio’s Little Fountain. They were constructed in the early 14th century to supply water to the town. As you can see, over 700 years later, they have tourists lined up to fill their plastic bottles on a very hot afternoon. The building in the background was originally called Divona. When its rooftop was used to capture water for the cistern, it soon became known as the Sponza Palace. Its Latin derivative is “songia” which means where rainwater is collected.

Luža ulica, 20000, Dubrovnik, Croatia

17 Sponza Palace in Dubrovnik, Croatia

When the Sponza Palace was built in 1522, it was a customs office and a bonded warehouse. It survived the 1667 earthquake so an inscription about honestly weighing shipments can still be seen over the loggia. Towards the top is the seemingly ever-present statue of Saint Blaise. Palača Sponza now houses the city’s archives with thousands of public records and manuscripts dating back to the 12th century.

Stradun 2, 20000, Dubrovnik, Croatia

18 Church of St. Blaise Dome in Dubrovnik, Croatia

This is the magnificent dome crowning the Church of St. Blaise. Its Venetian Baroque style was designed in the early 18th century by Venetian architect Marino Gropelli. This is ironic because its namesake, St. Blaise who was martyred in 316 AD, appeared as a vison in 971 to warn the city of a pending Venetian attack. The Protector’s feast day of February 3 is a major celebration in Dubrovnik called Festa svetoga Vlaha.

Luža ul. 2, 20000, Dubrovnik, Croatia

19 Rector’s Palace in Dubrovnik, Croatia

From 1358 until 1808, Dubrovnik was the center of the Republic of Ragusa. Its territory was called Dalmatia. It had a geographical footprint similar to the coastal areas of today’s Croatia. The republic’s functioning governor was the Rector. The original Rector’s Palace was built and rebuilt during the 15th century and after earthquakes in 1520 and 1667. It is now the Museum of Dubrovnik’s History Department. To the left are the Gradska Kavana or Town Café, the City Hall (Vijećnica) and the Bell Tower.

Ul. Pred Dvorom 3, 20000, Dubrovnik, Croatia

20 Relief Panel on Gundulić Statue in Dubrovnik, Croatia

Ivan Gundulić was a Croatian politician and poet who lived from 1589 through 1638. He is credited with standardizing the Croatian language. In a square bearing his name is an 1893 monument with his statue and four bronze reliefs. The panels depict scenes from Osman, his greatest literary work. This one shows Sunčanica being abducted by Ottoman sultan Osman II. This square is probably most famous for a flock of pigeons that descend on it every noon to be feed corn by the city. It is also the venue for a regular outdoor market.

Gundulićeva Poljana, 20000, Dubrovnik, Croatia

21 Richard the Lionheart History of Cathedral in Dubrovnik, Croatia

The Dubrovnik Cathedral has an interesting history. According to legend, while Richard I of England was returning from the Holy Land during the Third Crusade in 1192, he and his crew were shipwrecked off the coast of Dubrovnik at Lokrum Island. At the height of the storm, Richard the Lionheart prayed if his life were spared he would commission a magnificent church. The result was a beautiful Romanesque basilica that was built during the 12th century. When it was destroyed in the 1667 earthquake, the Catholic church was rebuilt as the current Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.

Ul. kneza Damjana Jude 1, 20000, Dubrovnik, Croatia

22 Statues on Cathedral Balustrade in Dubrovnik, Croatia

Along the balustrade of the Dubrovnik Cathedral are numerous saint statues. On the right side of the façade are Saint Joseph carrying the Christ child and Saint Blaise holding a staff. Inside the church are relics of the city’s patron saint. These reliquaries are carried during an elaborate procession on February 3, the Feast Day of Saint Blaise. The two-day celebration called Festa svetoga Vlaha is marked by releasing white doves, ringing church bells, carrying flowing banners and people marching in period costumes.

Ul. kneza Damjana Jude 1, 20000, Dubrovnik, Croatia

23 Dubrovnik Cathedral Façade in Dubrovnik, Croatia

The Dubrovnik Cathedral is formerly named the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. This Roman Catholic church was finished in 1713. Surrounding its entrance are four Corinthian columns with pilasters on the second level just below the cornice. The early 18th century may seem old (and it is). However, previous churches were built at this same location during the 7th and 12th centuries.

Ul. kneza Damjana Jude 1, 20000, Dubrovnik, Croatia

24 Organ inside the Dubrovnik Cathedral in Dubrovnik, Croatia

This ornate, second-story organ beneath the cross vaults of the Dubrovnik Cathedral was crafted by Ivan Feller Slovenian in 1690. It replaced two previous organs on this site. One was constructed in 1385 and the second dated from 1543. The main and side altars are equally elaborate. Next door is the Cathedral Treasury. This includes over 100 relics of saints from the 11th to the 19th centuries plus artwork and jeweled religious vessels.

Ul. kneza Damjana Jude 1, 20000, Dubrovnik, Croatia

25 Ribbed Dome of Dubrovnik Cathedral in Dubrovnik, Croatia

Italian architect Andrea Buffalini from Urbino designed the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary early in the 18th century including this ribbed dome. Its beautiful Baroque style can best be appreciated while walking along the City Walls because you’ll enjoy this rooftop perspective.

Ul. kneza Damjana Jude 1, 20000, Dubrovnik, Croatia

26 City Walls Walk around Dubrovnik, Croatia

Almost every guide book on Dubrovnik encourages first-time tourists to walk along the top of the City Walls. The entire circumference is about 1.2 miles and it has severe slopes at times. There are three entrance/exit stairs so you do not need to make the entire trek around. The most popular entry spot is near the Pile Gate and Minčeta Tower. However, I preferred this location near the Tower Sv. Ivan and the Maritime Museum because of its southern, sea-facing views. It is a fun stroll to see the red tile roofs nestled together along tiny streets. Plus you get a better appreciation for these city’s stone fortifications. Many of them were built during the 15th and 16th centuries.

Ul. Ispod Mira 7, 20000, Dubrovnik, Croatia

27 Café Buža Seaside Bar in Dubrovnik, Croatia

On a hot day while touring Dubrovnik you might enjoy a cold drink from this tiny bar. Café Buža is nicknamed the “Hole in the Wall” for a good reason. It is carved into the seaside cliff below the City Wall. The view is outstanding and the breeze is welcoming. But sip slowly. The prices are high and they have no bathroom. Some real adventurous people cliff dive from here.

Crijevićeva ul. 9, 20000, Dubrovnik, Croatia

28 Ponta Gate to Old Port in Dubrovnik, Croatia

During Medieval and Renaissance times, Dubrovnik only had four gates leading into its fortified city walls. Perhaps the least elaborate is the Ponta Gate which means “pier” in Croatian. This portal to the Old Port was designed by Juraj Dalmatinac and built during the 15th century by Paskoje Miličević. If you look to the right as you exit old town you will see the circular St. John Fort.

Na ponti bb, 20000, Dubrovnik, Croatia

29 Quay along Old Port in Dubrovnik, Croatia

This quay runs parallel to the city walls and the Old Port. While enjoying your stroll, notice the three arches on the left. This is part of the old Arsenal complex. One structure was used to repair boats while the other is where mastership builders constructed much of Dubrovnik’s fleet that numbered over 200 ocean-worthy vessels. It is now a restaurant with an ambiance of a shipyard and a terrace with great views of the water. In the background is the Asimov Tower with three bells from 1463, 1515 and 1622. Construction of this four-story tower began in 1390 and was finished during the 18th century. It is part of the Dominican Monastery and Fort Revelin.

Ul. Pred Dvorom 1, 20000, Dubrovnik, Croatia

30 Old Port of Dubrovnik, Croatia

The master architect of the Old Port was Paskoje Miličević. During the 15th century, he was responsible for building St. Luke’s bastion and the Kaše breakwater. The first protected the city from attack and the second from angry seas. This once was the harbor for Dubrovnik’s massive fleet of ships. Today Stari Porto accommodates only small pleasure boats. In the background are the Asimov Tower, the Dominican Monastery and Fort St. Luke.

Ribarnica ul. 1, 20000, Dubrovnik, Croatia

31 Outer Ploče Gate at Revelin Fortress in Dubrovnik, Croatia

This white, mid-15th century bridge designed by Paskoje Miličević leads from land and over a ditch to the Outer Ploče Gate. You must pass through two more gates before entering Dubrovnik. On the right is the massive Revelin Fortress. This citadel was finished in 1549 in response to a potential attack by the Venetians. A more lethal attacker was the plague. So for centuries the city had a strict policy that all visiting merchants and seamen must be quarantined for 40 days. The only remaining lazaretto or detention building from 1642 can be seen a few steps before crossing this bridge.

Ul. Vrata od Ploča, 20000, Dubrovnik, Croatia

32 Southern Portal of Dominican Monastery in Dubrovnik, Croatia

The Dominican community of White Brothers was founded outside the city walls in 1225. Construction of this monastery began in 1301 and continued through the 16th century. Most of it has a bland façade. The exception is this elegant southern portal with its Gothic arch and a carving of St. Dominic in the lunette. This entrance to the church was built from the design of Bonino of Milan around 1419. While you are at the northeast section of town, it is worth touring the Cloister of the Dominicans plus the Monastery Museum and Library.

Ul. Svetog Dominika 4, 20000, Dubrovnik, Croatia

Woman Selling Embroidery in Dubrovnik, Croatia

If a town caters to tourists then you can bet there are plenty of shopping options and Dubrovnik is no exception. The stores range from designer boutiques to inexpensive souvenir shops. But if you want to sample something regional, look for Bajadera chocolate or a biscuit named Paprenjak. For something stronger, try Komovica or Slivovitz liquors. And if you really want to support the locals, then approach the Croatian women wearing the traditional white dresses near the port. They are often selling lovely, handmade embroidery.

33 Peline Street along Base of Northern Wall in Dubrovnik, Croatia

Most people besiege the Minčeta Tower from the staircase to the City Wall near Pile Gate. It gets crowded with lots of overzealous tourists. If you prefer the road less traveled, then approach it from Peline Street which runs along the northern wall. It is virtually empty. As you climb the stairs, look for a small doorway that leads to an outdoor basketball court. You’ll be rewarded with the best views as shown from the horizontal photo of the tower in this gallery.

Peline ul. 37, 20000, Dubrovnik, Croatia

34 Minčeta Tower in Dubrovnik, Croatia

All 8.25 square miles of Dubrovnik’s Old Town is surrounded by walls and forts. They are spectacular! The Minčeta Tower, which was finished in 1464, is the city’s symbol. Tourists flock to climb up this fortress for its spectacular views. Game of Throne fans are thrilled to see what was called the House of the Undying in parts of season two.

Ul. Ispod Minčete 9, 20000, Dubrovnik, Croatia

35 Franjo Tuđman Bridge near Dubrovnik, Croatia

This A-shaped pylon stands 464 feet and is the dramatic accent of a cable-stayed bridge named after the first the President of Croatia: Franjo Tuđman. He took office in 1990 when the country became independent from Yugoslavia. The nearly 1,700 foot span crosses the Rijeka Dubrovačka river near Gruž where the country’s major port is located.

Lozica 8, 20000, Dubrovnik, Croatia