Known as the Athens of the Adriatic, this Medieval and Baroque fortress-city is the most popular touristic attraction in Croatia. A symbol of freedom, Dubrovnik has been an independent municipality which kept its independence for most of the centuries. Despite that, it had glimpses of history when it went under the Venetian rule for one and a half centuries, between 1200s and mid-1300s. It was freed by Louis of Hungary and it became a vassal stat of the Hungaro-Croatian kingdom, despite the fact that its official status was of an independent state.
After that, the Hungaro-Croatian handed it over to the Ottoman Empire about one century after, but, with smooth diplomatic tactics and tributes offered to the Gate, the city-state had regained its tacit independence. It managed to preserve a detached position between the political blocks of the era and, even if it managed to tie strong diplomatic connections with the Catholic world – Spain, the Papality -, the small state avoided to side against the ottomans, as it had the interest of maintaining a neutral status in the area for economic reasons – gaining revenues and taxes from whoever was passing through the neutral port. Afterwards it has been disputed by Napoleon, then added to the Dalmatian province, but it has kept its strength and singularity as if time has passed by it without leaving too many marks.
Now a part of the UNESCO heritage, its moniker remained “the pearl of the Adriatic Sea” after George Bernard Shaw paid a visit and was struck by its beauty. Dubrovnik it distinguishes itself by its stone walls – along which you can walk and admire the entire panorama – standing against the waves and the mixture of elegant architectural styles that have been kept almost untouched.
The Old Town is the highlight of the structure. You can get there walking, or by taking a cable car that will take you up, on top of the scenery. When you roam the streets of Dubrovnik, you breathe history with every step that you take, but you can also enjoy the luxuries of modernity by enjoying the summer festivals that take place every year, savor the tastes of Croatian wine and bathe in the blue of the waters.
In this respect, the main beach of Dubrovnik, Banje, which is perfect for any age, especially for families with small children, as they offer a great variety of entertainment. However, keep in mind that it reserved only for tourists, so, in case you want to start a conversation with a local, you can go to Sveti Jakov, some 20 minutes’ walk along Vlaha Bukovca, a lovely pathway shadowed by old, majestic trees.
There are plenty museums which preserve fascinating artifacts and slices of history, but one of the most captivatin is the Rector’s Palace, which has a history and elegant architecture of its own and preserves samples of the most recent history of the region.
Also, try to not miss any of the institutions that store memories of Europe’s golden ages: Ethnographic Museum, Maritime Museum, the Homeland War Museum, and memorial houses such a Ronald Brown and Marin Drzic.