|On our way into Dubrovnik|
Dubrovnik was the busiest place we went in Croatia by far. As soon as we got anywhere near the city walls Jordi was continuously stopping and looking out for us to make sure there were no stragglers getting sucked up into the crowds or lost in alleyways, before letting us loose for the afternoon.
Dubrovnik was the place everyone had been looking forward to. As soon as Ciko shouted that we could see it in the distance, everyone was crowding at the front of the boat snapping photo's. It's beautiful orange rooftops standing out before we could really see the rest of the city. Of course the reason the city is so busy is that everyone has heard about the Pearl of the Adriatic, the walled city with the complex history.
To get more into the history we decided to listen to an audio guide. For Croats, Dubrovnik represents freedom, having been self-governing for much of it's history. Previously known as the Republic of Ragusa, the city was formed in the 7th century when coastal residents were fleeing the Barbarian's. The new city used it's status as a crossroads between culture's and civilisation and thrived through extensive trade with other ports like Venice. Venice was it's chief competitor on the Adriatic waterways.
Unfortunately in 1667 there was a massive Earthquake, literally crushing the city with only two buildings surviving the quake. It was reconstructed in the baroque style we can see today, but in spite of this reconstruction, trade was in decline. When Napoleon arrived 1806 the city was a shadow of itself, and in 1815, like most of the Eastern Adriatic Dubrovnik fell under the rule of the Habsburg Empire.
That's not the end of Dubrovnik's history, tho'. It's not so long ago that the siege of Dubrovnik happened. It was within my lifetime. Just within the city walls is a map which has labelled on it which parts of the city were damaged or destroyed by the Yugoslavian Army's shelling in the early 90's. The scars are less visible than in Karlovac, where another front line was during the Croatian War of Independence & you can see some of the damaged buildings as well as visit the Open Air War Museum (small but interesting). In Dubrovnik, tho', everything is restored and looks pristine, the only signs are the gleaming white walls patching up the grey walls that were damaged.
We arrived in Dubrovnik later than planned because of having further to go than if we'd reached Mljet, and whilst that was no one's fault, it meant we were rushing to squeeze everything in, and more than anything I wanted to walk the city walls. We only had to wait an hour before the cruise ship passengers would leave & we'd be able to walk around freely (which will give any guide's reading this some idea of how late we got to Dubrovnik).
Have you visited Dubrovnik? How did you find the city?