April 11, 2022
So many people have told me how beautiful Dubrovnik is.. well it certainly lived up to expectations and then some! George Bernard Shaw visited the city in 1929 and said “If you want to see heaven on earth, come to Dubrovnik”. Just sailing in was spectacular.
Our guide today was Tony, who was born in 1986 and grew up in the Old City of Dubrovnik. His English was amazing and we noticed he counted in English which in our experience is rare. People usually count in their native languages. It is compulsory to take both English and Croatian in school here from the age of 6.
Croatia is a country of 56,000 square kilometers. The population is 3.8 million with 43,000 living in Dubrovnik and only 1000 living in the Old City. Croatia borders 6 countries and the longest land border is with Bosnia. Dubrovnik is a UNESCO heritage site so no changes can be made to the buildings here.
They are not on the Euro yet, they will be next year but their currency is the kuna and 1 Euro is equal to 7.5 kuna.
The country is mostly Catholic but there are 45 Jewish people in Dubrovnik and they do have a synagogue but no rabbi. The patron saint of the city is Saint Blaise (Catholics know of the blessing of the throat which dates back to St. Blaise.) The most beloved church here is dedicated to St. Blaise.
The third oldest European pharmacy dating back to 1317 is located here and is still operating.
Few of Dubrovnik’s Renaissance buildings survived the earthquake of 1667 but there are enough left to understand the architectural heritage.
We went by cable car to the top of a mountain where the War Museum is located. It is in the old fortress and is lined with pictures and narrative of the war with Serbia and Montenegro. There is also a short movie about that war and the extreme damage it did. They have meticulously reconstructed the city after both the earthquake and the war. The images of the current war in Ukraine came to our minds. What a tragedy.
The views from both the cable car and outside of the War Museum were amazing. Tony told us that the roofs of the buildings in the Old City will let you identify the buildings that were destroyed and rebuilt because their roofs are orange and the old ones are brown.
Then we were invited to a café overlooking the city for a refreshment. The servers were so friendly and we were served either blueberry juice or orange juice and what they called a muffin. They were more like cupcakes with icing and were delicious.
We took the cable car down and then walked to the Old City. There are so many wonderful sights – I will just post photos of some of them.
There was one church that survived the war and there are bullet holes on the outside.
One church is called the “cat church” because of the many cats that congregate here. The cats are fed by local restaurant owners and in return they keep mice and rats away.
One item of interest was the first orphanage, from the 1400’s. Women could bring babies they either couldn’t care for or were products of a relationship they wanted to keep hidden to this window and simply hand the baby into the box. No one was allowed to watch so it was anonymous. If the mother wanted to later be identified, she might leave a note or a necklace with the child. Then when the children reached 6 years of age while in the orphanage, they could be adopted or returned to the mother.
Much of the HBO series Game of Thrones was filmed here and of course many shops sell items related to the series.
This gargoyle is said to guarantee a wonderful love life if you stand on it and take your shirt off. No one that I saw did it, but the walls are dark from the people who try to hold on. It is slippery and slanted which makes it almost impossible to keep your balance.
We walked through the Old City and then had free time on our own. We chose to climb and walk the City Walls. They are 2 km long and are famous around the world. They were protection from the enemy in the past but now they are an attraction that is sort of a city museum offering views from above the city. The walls are so thick!
We had to have a gelato before we left the city at 2. I guess you could call it lunch.
Both weather and scenery made this a real highlight of the trip for us. Tomorrow we arrive in Slovenia.