Fun on the Stradun

Sbusker

Sonya greets a busker

Strying

Sonya tries to get up on the stone face…

As I wrote in the previous post, one way to enter the Old Town in Dubrovnik is through the Pile Gate, which leads to a small square and the start of the Stradun.  In the square is Onofrio’s Big Fountain, a large rounded structure. During the Middle Ages the city had an aqueduct system that brought water from the mountains many miles away. The water ended up here as it was the biggest fountain and then was routed through the rest of the city. This water supply was one of the reasons that Dubrovnik could resist sieges a number of times through history.

On the edge of this square you’ll see many buskers, and there’s also a fun activity that visitors like to try: On the outside wall of the Monastery is a protruding stone face with a flat head. People try to climb onto it and stay balanced, a feat harder than it looks! Sonya tried and succeeded, with a bit of help from Rod!

Sup

…she manages!

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And with a bit of help from Rod….

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A Stroll Along the Stradun

 

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Stradun is #6, running from #1 to #14

 

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A happening street

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Seen many times in the city: Pile Gate and St Blaise

Stradun is the main street that runs through Old Town in Dubrovnik and is packed with people and sights, shopping and eating places. Its official name is the Placa but it’s more commonly called Stratun. It starts at Pile Gate and ends at the Old Port.

A bit of history: around the 7th century, Dubrovnik was just beginning to develop. At that time, this street was a canal. Romans, who were fleeing the invading Slavs, lived on the island of Ragusa, which was on the right as you stand with your back to the gate. The Slavs settled on the shore, to your left. Around the 11th century the canal was filled in and the towns merged and a unique Roman-Slavic culture emerged. The street was much more crooked then but was rebuilt in a straight way after the 1667 earthquake.

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Enter the Od Town though Pile Gate

 

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St Blaise on Pile Gate

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Big Onofrio Fountain

Any visitor will definitely walk on Stradun many times during a visit to Dubrovnik, so here are just some of the main sights. Strolling along here gives a good introduction to the city, and it’s a lot of fun, even if it is very crowded (and hot in summer).

Start at the Pile Gate into Old Town, an impressive entrance. Note the statue of St Blaise above the entrance, cradling Dubrovnik in his arm. St Blaise is the patron saint of the city. Legend has it that a thousand years ago St Blaise appeared to a local priest in a dream and told him that the up-and-coming Venetians would attack the city soon. The priest warned the authorities, who could then prepare for war. This prediction did in fact come true. St Blaise became the symbol of the city and the locals have resented Venetians since then!

BigOspout2

 

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A nun gets water for her flowers 

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Onofrio has many fun spouts

nightJust inside the gate is a small square, always busy. To the left is one of the stairways that give entrance to the walk around the old city walls. Next to the stairs is the Church of St Savior (see here https://easterneuropetrip.wordpress.com/2017/07/28/dubrovnik-the-little-church-that-could/ ) and then the Franciscan Monastery (see here https://easterneuropetrip.wordpress.com/2017/07/24/dubrovniks-franciscan-monastery/ ). In the square is Onofrio’s Big Fountain, a large rounded structure. During the Middle Ages the city had an aqueduct system that brought water from the mountains many miles away. The water ended up here as it was the biggest fountain and then was routed through the rest of the city. This water supply was one of the reasons that Dubrovnik could resist sieges a number of times through history.

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Bell Tower and St Blaise Church

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Orcolumn

Orlando’s Column

On the edge of this square you’ll see many buskers, and there’s also a fun activity that visitors like to try: On the outside wall of the Monastery is a protruding stone face with a flat head. People try to climb onto it and stay balanced, a feat harder than it looks! Sonya tried and succeeded, with a bit of help from Rod! (see next post).

Towards the end of Stradun you get to Luza Square. Straight ahead is the town’s Bell Tower, originally built in 1444, but rebuilt in the 1920s when it started to lean. It has a very fancy clock, somewhat similar to that in St Mark’s Square in Venice, but this clock predates the Venice one.

To the right is St Blaise’s Church and in the square in front of the church is the famous SOrcolumnOrlando’s Column. The city built this column in 1417, after it changed allegiance to the Hungarians from the Venetians. Columns like this were quite typical in northern European towns, so erecting this column was a symbol of Dubrovnik distancing itself from Venice. The column is important in other ways too. The town crier would come to the column to announce any important news and decisions, and which step he stood on was an indication of how important the news was—the higher the step, the more important the news. The column was also used as a pillory, where people were publicly punished. And the column had the city’s standard measurement: the thin line on the top step is exactly as long as the statue’s forearm, so the standard measurement was not a foot, but an “elbow”.

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Cathedral

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St Blaise atop the Cathedral

Sstatue

Sonya and Marin Drzic

Not strictly on Stradun but kind-of linked is the Cathedral on the wide street called Pred Dvorom to the right off Luza Square. What we see today is an 18th century Baroque church, but the original was a 12th century Romanesque building, which was destroyed in the 1667 earthquake.

Nearby in front of the Rector’s Palace is a statue of Marin Drzic, whose nose, hands and knees are much rubbed for good luck. Marin Drzic (born 1508 in Dubrovnik, died 1567 in Venice) is considered the best Croatian Renaissance playwright, especially for comedies, and prose writer. He was ordained as a priest but was often a bit of a rebel, very extroverted and popular. An annual drama prize is named after him.stradunnight

At night, Stradun is all lit up and there are many places to eat and drink and relax—which we certainly did!

 

 

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Dubrovnik: The Little Church That Could

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Entrance to St Saviour

inside

Inside St Saviour

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Big Onofrio Fountain and St Saviour Church next to the city walls

St Saviour Church (Crkva Sveti Spasa in Croatian)

Dubrovnik has many churches and houses of religion, but many people say that this is one of the more beautiful ones, and well worth a visit. It’s a church with a lot of history and has become a symbol of strength.

Just inside the Pile Gate, St Saviour is wedged between the city walls and the Franciscan Monastery complex. In front of it you can’t miss the large round structure, called Onofrio’s Big Fountain, built in the Middle Ages. It is the city’s largest fountain (more about it later), and is a popular meeting spot for tourists.

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Beautiful interior

insidedetailThis is a Roman Catholic votive church, dedicated to Jesus Christ. In May 1520, Dubrovnik was hit by an earthquake, which killed about 20 people and damaged many buildings. The local Senate commissioned a new church in thanks that the city wasn’t damaged even more. Architect Petar Andrijic from Korcula designed it and it was completed in 1528.

Another disastrous earthquake struck the city in 1667. It destroyed a lot of the city and around 5,000 people died. But St Savior Church survived, so what we see today is its original form. It survived another close call during the 1991-1992 siege of the city when a shell exploded on the ground in front of it.

It’s a very good example of Renaissance-Gothic architecture. The church has one nave

Ninside

Nath sits quietly in the cool interior

with a Gothic cross-ribbed vault, and the windows are also Gothic with pointed arches. But the façade is Renaissance style, so a little plain.

The interior is very beautiful, more Baroque, and it’s easy to sit on one of the benches, looking around at all the details. Which is what we did after visiting the Franciscan Monastery Museum next door. It was quiet and cool inside, perfect for a hot summer day.

 

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Dubrovnik’s Franciscan Monastery

 

entrance

Entrance to Franciscan Monastery and museum

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Monastery, gardens and cloisters

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We enter just beyond the ticket table

Franciscan Monastery

The Franciscan Monastery Museum (Franjevacki Samostan-Muzej). This monastery was very photogenic, so we have MANY pictures. Please scroll through and enjoy!

This monastery museum is just inside the Pile Gate, off Stradun. You enter through the door at the end of the gap between the small church almost up against the city walls and the big monastery. Entry is 30 kuna (about US $ 4.50, but they also accept euros: we paid 3 euros each). Open 9-6 in summer season and 9-5 in winter.

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A peek into the working pharmacy

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what the old pharmacy looked like

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frescoes and old clock

Dubrovnik’s monasteries flourished in the Middle Ages, and the cloisters of this one are particularly fine. Just inside the entrance door, before you get to the table with the ticket seller, a pharmacy that’s more than 100 years old still serves residents. It’s possible this is situated here as the monastery had a pharmacy in the building since the early 1300s. Nowadays a small museum is in the original pharmacy (no photos allowed inside).

Part of the mission of the Franciscans was to contribute to the health of the citizens, so they opened this pharmacy in 1317, a tradition that still continues. We see jars, pots and other pharmaceutical supplies. Apparently the sick would come to a small window, which had limited contact with the dispenser, thus reducing risk of passing on disease. The small museum also has some old manuscripts and a painting of early 17th century Dubrovnik.

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Looking into the garden

 

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fountain

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One of the four corridors. See Nath and Sonya resting on a step

All interesting, but the real pleasure here is wandering around the cool cloisters. It’s quiet and peaceful and we can imagine monks walking and meditating here. Covered arcades run along the walls of the buildings on 4 sides, forming a quadrangle, which has a pretty garden and fountain. The garden even had some large, flowering cycads!

 

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Some of the Romanesque-Gothic double pillars

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Dogs on pillars

Two other features stand out: the pillars along the arcades, and frescoes along the tops of the walls. There are 60 Romanesque-Gothic double pillars and each one is different. We had fun trying to identify quite a few of them. We found faces of people, dogs, horses, a dragon, for example. Sadly, this monastery was hit during the 1991-1992 siege of Dubrovnik and we could notice that some parts of the portals inside the courtyard have a different, lighter-colored, stone. This is because they had to be repaired after the siege.

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Dragon on pillar

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Horses on pillar

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New faces on pillar

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Old faces on pillar

The frescoes are 19th century and many are also damaged. They depict the life of St Francis who is supposed to have visited the city in the early 13th century.

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Fresco near the current pharmacy

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fresco

There’s also an ornate stone tomb, The Tomb of the Gucetic Gozze Family, by an unknown master 1371.

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Goose Tomb

Also noticeable on a wall near the exit is a poster with the flags of many countries, with the name and signature of some well-known people from those countries who have visited here. We also had fun picking out some of those names, such as Jacqueline Kennedy.

poster

 

JackieK

Jackie Kennedy signature

The church next door (also enter off Stradun) has a beautiful Baroque interior. Another cool, peaceful place on a hot summer day! See next post.

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Nath and Sonya take a rest in the cool cloisters

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A broken pillar

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Ice-cream on a Hot Summer Evening

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An ice-cream shop beckons

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Dolce Vita

NStableCooling off in Dubrovnik

What better way to top off a great meal and to cool off on a hot summer evening—and it certainly was that!

After eating at Konoba Kamenice we wandered along Stradun (the main street) on the way back to our rooms. On one of the alleys leading up the hill, a sign beckoned to Nath and Sonya: Dolce Vita. That means the soft or sweet life, and apparently the local people (according to Eddie) swear that this is the best icecream in the whole city. The city has many rollicecream shops (sladoled), but this is the top one; they call this one an ‘ice saloon’ in English!

We got a small table and both Nath and Sonya said their icecream wrapped in a kind of crepe, served with whipped cream, was great.

 

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More Meals in Dubrovnik

tables

eddgesquare

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A long line of people waiting to get a table

Konoba Kamenice

This very popular restaurant is on the market square, an attractive square not too far from the main cathedral. We’d walked past it a few times, either just passing by or to stroll around the small market.

The blue and white striped chairs and blue tablecloths are striking, and we thought it would be a good place to try one evening. When Eddie from our rooms also recommended it, we decided to give it a try.

scampi

Scampi

 

Ndish

blackrisotti

Blackrisotto

There’s always a queue—and I can see why, as the service was good and the food great—but luckily we got a table pretty quickly. It’s listed as a basic fish restaurant and their fish dishes are superb. We’d heard about the huge shrimp, and black risotto, done in the Ston style (Ston is an old town on the Peljasic Peninsula nearby), so we wanted to sample those.

We shared a couple of prosciutto plates and salads, but the highlights were the main dishes: wonderful scampi (looked like small langoustines to us), done in a garlic-tomato sauce; and the black risotto, done with squid ink and chopped pieces of octopus and scallops. They were really delicious. I think the photos tell the story!

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Market on the square

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Market on the square earlier in the day

wine

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Dubrovnik: Museum of Homeland War

fortonSrd

Fort Imperial on Mt Srd

poster

photosincity

Photo display in the city

 

A fascinating and sobering story

All around the old walled city of Dubrovnik one sees reminders of the damage done to the city during the 1991-92 siege of the city and the terrible bombardment. The first time Rod and I were there we took photos of photos that were in a special display on one street wall, and of shell craters in walls, but we didn’t go up to the museum on Mt Srd (pronounced ‘surge’). This time with Nath and Sonya we decided to visit the museum.

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Photo display in the city

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The city shows pictures of the destruction

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Looking down to the city from the fort

But first, a bit of background:

This was a turbulent time in the history of Yugoslavia. In June 1991 Croatia declared independence from Yugoslavia. Very soon, the nations were at war, mostly raging in the Croatian interior, and nobody expected the bloodshed to reach Dubrovnik right down in the south. Refugees from NE Croatia started arriving in Dubrovnik during the fall, and war planes from the Serb-dominated Yugoslav People’s Army started circling the city.

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Attack on Mt Srd

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Board describing damage to Dubrovnik

 

In the morning of October 1, 1991 the Serbs attacked Mt Srd above the city and destroyed a famous giant cross and a communications tower, plus the cable car that whisks visitors to the top of the mountain (all since repaired). Then Yugoslav land troops (mostly Serbs and Montenegrins) started to surround the city. A very newly-formed, unorganized Croatian army resisted by digging in at the old Napoleonic fortress on top of Mt Srd. A small group of only 25-30 soldiers prevented a Yugoslav takeover of this very strategic position throughout the siege, even though it was shelled and damaged. Though seriously outgunned and outnumbered, they held the fort. Locals brought supplies up by foot or by donkey, usually at night. Even after peace came, minefields and unexploded ordinance left the hilltop a very dangerous place. But, this was all cleared by 2010, the same year the cable car was rebuilt.

 

bigroom

One room in the museum

At first the Yugoslav forces targeted positions on the edge of the city, but then moved closer to residential areas, and then started shelling the actual old city of Dubrovnik. The city people sheltered in their cellars or in the old 15th century forts in the city walls.

The Yugoslav Army hoped that many residents would flee the town but that didn’t happen and the people of the city resisted the siege and bombardment way better than anyone predicted.

Bombing of the city continued for 8 months, despite the fact that Dubrovnik had been a

display

In the museum

UNESCO site since 1979 and should therefore have been off-limits. The city was liberated by the Croatian army, but by the end of the siege the casualty numbers and the damage were tremendous: more than 100 civilians died and more than 200 Dubrovnik citizens who actively fought and were called “Dubrovnik Defenders.” In the greater Dubrovnik area many hundreds more were killed and in the Republic of Croatia an estimated 14,000 people were killed, 6,000 of them civilians. More then two-thirds of the buildings in Dubrovnik were damaged and more than 30,000 people had to flee their homes. Awful statistics at any time, but even more so when one considers that this was supposedly a “protected city”.

roomPeople have asked why the city was targeted. Many reasons are given: partly so Yugoslavia could gain a foothold right in the south of the Dalmatian coast; partly to fan pro-Serb passions in the nearby Serb-dominated areas of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro; and partly to hit Croatia where it hurt—its proud, historical, beautiful city of Dubrovnik.

On the surface, the city has recovered but the emotional toll is still very much there, and the museum on Mt Srd shows that. The Croatians in Dubrovnik were mostly innocent victims in the Yugoslav war and the brutal attack on their city, and the citizens cannot easily forget that. They feel very aggrieved and somewhat vulnerable that their special city was literally blown almost to bits in front of their eyes.

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Fort Imperial on Mt Srd

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Entrance to museum

Back to the Museum: The Dubrovnik During the Homeland War (199-1992) Museum is housed in the Fort Imperial, built by Napoleon in 1806-1812 after he added Dubrovnik to his holdings in order to keep an eye on these new subjects. The fort is behind the cable car station, and is a huge grey stone structure.

Entrance to the museum is 100 kuna per person (about US$ 15) and is open the same hours as the cable car.

The museum is in part of the ground floor of the Fort, in a series of vaulted rooms off a long corridor. More than 500 original photos, documents and objects (such as rifles and mortar shells) are displayed, divided into different thematic units: the fort’s history; the preparations for defence; Serbian and Montenego aggression in 1991; the liberation of the Croatian south in 1992; suffering of the population; and damage to civil buildings and cultural monuments in the Dubrovnik area.

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Fort history

Ivan Gundulic

Ivan Gundulic monument boarded up

All the information boards and explanations are in Croatian and English, luckily. The descriptions are very dense and detailed, with way too much information to take in during one visit.

Here are just a few factoids: Under “Preparation” we see photos of famous structures boarded up where possible, such as the Big Onofrio Fountain and the monument to Ivan Gundulic.

Under “Suffering of the Historic Center and Cultural Monuments we learn that the first bombardment was on 23-24 October 1991. After that there were repeated bombardments, with the enemy army using guided missiles, mortar shells and artillery projectiles of all calibers. The detonation of these damaged the structural integrity of most buildings. Almost none of the important buildings in the protected heritage area were left unscathed. For example, Stradun had 45 direct hits, the Franciscan Convent 37 direct hits, the City walls 40 locations hit. Nine palaces were completely burned down.

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Map showing the extensive damage to old Dubrovnik

room2The whole exhibition is rather disturbing, on many counts—it shows how awful the attacks on Dubrovnik were; and how war brings out the worst in some people, with total disregard for loss of life or loss of historical or cultural assets. It also shows us how any event can be interpreted in different ways, as this museum sees the war only from the Dubrovnik/Croatia point of view. What happened to them here was awful and atrocious and the people of Dubrovnik were largely innocent victims, but at the same time the Croatian army elsewhere was also bombarding other innocent people. Think of the Old Bridge in Mostar (Bosnia-Herzegovina), for example, which the Croats shelled in November 1993.

However, it is an important museum to visit and does spotlight a huge turning point in the history of this glorious city.

 

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Eating in Dubrovnik: Konoba Pupo

pupo

calamari

NSKonoba Pupo

We had lunch here one very hot day. We chose it really at random, because it looked quiet (compared to the bigger streets) and had shady umbrellas. It’s just off Od Puca, a small street that runs roughly parallel to the main street Stratun. The street is attractive, but rather hot and airless but was okay when a breeze blew. We found it strange that more cafes and eating places here in Dubrovnik don’t have fans and/or misters as it’s known to get really hot here in summer.

At Pupo, tables are set out on the side alleys and the food was pretty good. It seems that they share the kitchen with another place next door.

We shared 2 seasonal salads, had many bottles of mineral water and coffees afterwards, plus a main dish each (beef, calamari, trout). Very tasty food and good service, so we’d recommend it.

beef

trout

Some very nice words written on the back of the menu:onmenu

There are presents we don’t find under a tree…

There are feelings that we share on such ordinary days…

But Xmass brings them all together…

With such lightness that even those who don’t believe still feel the joy…

That is its miracle…

Happy Holidays!

XO

Pupo & Pupica

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Panoramic Views from Panorama

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View from the top cable car station

NScable

Nath and Sonya in the cable car

 

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Selfie from the cable car station

 

In Dubrovnik (Croatia) the restaurant on top of Mount Srd (pronounced ‘surge’) behind the walled medieval city is aptly named “Panorama”. We went up in the cable car, and from the top the view can only be described as spectacular—beyond the mountain to more mountains that are in Bosnia-Herzogovenia, across a small bay to the island of Lokrum, and on the other side straight down to the medieval city. We were so high up here that we could see the city layout just as it is on maps! The only thing the layout cannot tell us from here is how steep the narrow streets within the walls are.

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cabledown

SNVview

How’s that for a view!

Rod and I had been here on our previous visit and were so impressed that we wanted to bring Nath and Sonya on this trip.

The restaurant bills itself as “The restaurant with the most beautiful view on the Adriatic coast” and we have to agree.

We went up on the cable car (108 kuna return, about US$16) and also enjoyed the views as we went up and down. We bought tickets at the cable car, but some shops at the bottom where you leave the top city gate also sell them at the same price. We tried to go up early-ish (about 9am) to try and avoid some of the heat later in the day. It was fine for visiting the Museum of Homeland War in the fort up on Mt Srd and for lunch, but was brutally hot once we got back down into Dunrovnik.

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The tables at Panorama are shaded by white umbrellas

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4vivew2For lunch, again we were lucky to get the best table right on the edge overlooking the city, and we voted this the “Best Lunch View” ever (so far anyway!). An amazing view, a pleasant breeze, friendly service and excellent food. They serve Mediterranean cuisine, for lunch and dinner (might be fun to try that in the evening).

 

trilogia

Our delicious trilogiya salad

Sonya had a beer, Rod and I a glass of rose wine, and we all had tea or coffee afterwards. menuRod and I had the trilogiya salad (3 types of seafood), which was wonderful. Nath and Sonya had a green salad with feta, and a small cheese plate with preserves—also great.

Definitely recommended. A special place.

 

 

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Dubrovnik: Fort of St Lawrence

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View from Mt Srd. The walled city on the left, and the fort on the peninsula on the right. It overlooks the small cove and the city walls

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The opposite view: from the fort, down to the cove (which our hotel overlooked) and up to Mt Srd, with its own fort

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Going up. Note the statue of St Lawrence in the wall

Fort of St Lawrence (Tvrdava Lovrijenac)

Our tickets for entry to the City Walls were also valid for entry to the Fort of St Lawrence, if used on the same day (100 kuna per person, about US$ 14.50).

We went around the walls in the morning, and then to the Fort later in the afternoon. Our hotel was on the same side of the cove as the Fort, outside the Pile Gate, so it wasn’t a long walk to get there, but it was a long trek up the steep hill! Part of “Game of Thrones” was filmed up at the Fort, plus in other parts of the city, so Sonya was excited (sadly, Rod and I don’t know that series!).

 

GameT

We see ads for Game of Thrones all around Dubrovnik

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From the gateway you get an idea of the really steep cliffs

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From the gate across to the city

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Nath and Sonya on the terrace

The Fort of St Lawrence (Tvrdava Lovrijenac) is a huge fortified peninsula with impenetrable cliffs just outside the city walls. It’s Dubrovnik’s oldest fortress, often called “Dubrovnik’s Gibraltar” and now one of the top venues for the Dubrovnik Summer Festival. It has become a famous stage for one of the world’s best plays, Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”. The Croatian leg of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series takes place from Lovrijenac too.

You get amazing views over the Old Town from the top of the fortress, as it is 121 feet above sea level and it dominates both the sea and land entrances to the city on the western side.

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View over city walls

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The cove, where kayak trips begin

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Through a canon port

NSRThe fort is triangular in shape with three terraces. The walls facing the outside reach 39 feet in thickness, whereas the walls facing the inside (the actual dwelling part) are only 24 inches thick. Two drawbridges lead to the fort and and above the gate there is an inscription Non Bene Pro Toto Libertas Venditur Auro (Freedom is not to be sold for all the treasures in the world).

RVterrace

Rod and Viv on the terrace

 

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Inside the fort

canonLovrijenac is seeped in legends of heroic acts of guards and defenders, and caused many problems for those who attempted to capture the republic, primarily the Venetians.

The famous story/legend attached to this peninsula is how the locals resisted the Venetians. Early in the 11th century the Venetians tried to build a fort on the same spot where Fort Lovrijenac currently stands. If they had succeeded, they would have kept Dubrovnik under their power, but the people of the city beat them to it when they learned of the Venetians’ intention. When the Venetian ships arrived, full of materials for the construction of the fort, they were told to return to Venice. The “Chronicles of Ragusa” reveal how the fort was built in just three months, and since then has been constantly reconstructed.

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VterraceWe have to remember that in the Middle Ages the city-state of Dubrovnik (then called Ragusa) bought its independence from whoever was strongest at the time—Byzantium, Venice, Hungary, the Ottomans. It became a seafaring power in the Adriatic that rivalled Venice, and European nations were happy to have an alternative port when Venice was blockaded by the Ottomans.

 

 

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