Dubrovnik Old Town
Old City Walls, Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik’s voluminous city walls, up to 12 m (39ft) thick and 23 m (82ft) high in places, are a stunning site. A cradle of stone, they helped to protect one of the most perfectly preserved medieval cities in Europe, as well as safeguarding the independence of the city-state for centuries. Running from the steeps cliffs to the north through to the Adriatic in the south, they provided an impenetrable barrier to pirates and potential conquerors, until the keys to the gates were finally hadned over to the French on 31st of January 1808, and the Republic of Dubrovnik (or Ragusa, uo use its former name) came to an end.
This grand western entrance to the Old City leads, via a drawbridge, down on to the Stradun. Look out for the figure of Dubrovnik’s patron saint, St. Blaise, above the gate and, a little further on, for a more modern depiction by Ivan Meštrović.
The legacy of the 1991-92 siege is evident from the strech of walls around the old port. From here the contrast between the charming, original roof tiles and the newer replacements, imported form France and Slovenia, is easy to see.
St. John’s Fort
This fortification protected the old port from advancing enemy ships and was, in its time, right at the cutting edge of military technology. Begun in the 14th century, additions were being made well into the 16th century.
Part of st. John’s Fortress is a museum, that sheds light on the Republic of Ragusa’s rich and eclectic maritime heritage. The exhibits include a large collection of model ships, sepia photographs of the port and historic maps.
For completely different perspective of Dubrovnik’s walls, join a tour boat or hire a local water taxi and skirt around the base of the city, where Adriatic swishes against the rocks and ramparts soar menacingly upward.