10 August 2008

Dubrovnik on the Croatian Riviera

After a day of sailing through the Ionian Sea, we arrived in Dubrovnik, Croatia.

The city was founded in the 7th century AD and was part of the Byzantine Empire. It was built on a small island just off the coast. Later, a group of Slavic people established a settlement at the foot of the Srd Mountain, which was named Dubrava, Old Croatia for "Oak Forest." By the 12th century these two settlements had joined forces and the narrow water way between the island and the coast was filled in, making the two settlements one larger town.

Eventually Dubrovnik, as it came to be called, established itself as a maritime city state which rivaled the the power and wealth of Venice. All that came to an end when a earthquake levelled the city, killing more than 5000 of its residents, in 1667. However, it remained an independent city state until it came under the power of the Hapsburg Empire in 1815. After World War I it became part of the newly formed Yugoslavia and was eventually incorporated into the USSR after World War II.

However, now it is remembered as being one of the cities under siege by the Serbs during the bloody civil war in the early 1990's. Due to its fortified walls, it never fell. And the only remnants of the 8 month siege are the slightly different colored roof tiles which had to be replaced due to heavy shelling. It has once become one of the most popular tourist destinations in Croatia, and deservedly so.

Since the old city of Dubrovnik is very small and extremely walkable, we had decided not to arrange a formal excursion. Rather, we simply meandered.

It's a good thing we weren't trying to get somewhere, because the streets are primarily extremely narrow alley ways which wend and wind their way through the city.

Had we been trying to actually get somewhere, we would have immediately become hopelessly lost. As it was, we were free to roam at will without the stress of following a map.

Eventually we came upon the central square and the Dubrovnik Cathedral.

Built between 1671-1713, the Romanesque Baroque construction replaced an earlier cathedral which was destroyed in the earthquake.

By the time we came upon the Old Harbor, it was late enough in the day (11:00 am) that it was getting a tad uncomfortable.

Although the temperature remained relatively low (about 80F/26C), Dubrovnik had extremely high humidity which was making it difficult to breath. So we headed back to the ship (and the wonderful air conditioning), which left a few hours later enroute to Sarande, Albania.


Kirk said...

Dubrovnik is really high on our list of places we wish we had visited when we lived over there--looks beautiful!

Expat Traveler said...

wow - now that is also high on my list to visit.

bathmate said...

very good posting. i liked it. :-)