Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Dubrovnik: City walls and cable car provide best views

We passed one very large 4,000-passenger ship anchored offshore as we sailed closer to Dubrovnik. This time we had to take a tender ashore but then we were right in the Old Town where no cars are allowed. We walked to the cable car station, where we took the ride to the top of the hill, meanwhile enjoying the panoramic views over the town. It was time for coffee in the open air restaurant. How many places can you say that you looked out on two other countries while you had coffee, Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Next we wandered around Old Dubrovnik to the Pile Gate where we climbed to the top of the 13th century walls. They enclose the entire city in a curtain of stone over 2 kilometres long and up to 25 meters in height. It took us an hour to  wander the walls looking out over several old fortresses and the Maritime Museum. We looked right into the backyard of several old stone houses. Because of their location these houses are quite expensive today.Finally we ended up in the very centre of the Old Town.

Dubrovnik was originally the old Roman city of Epidaurum, which was destroyed in the 7th century by invading barbarians. By the end of the 12th century Dubrovnik had become an important trading centre providing a link between the Mediterranean and the Baltic states. From 1205 Dubrovnik came under the Venetian authority for 150 years. In the 15th century the town extended its borders and became the Republic of Ragusa. It established a fleet of its own and cut out the middleman, which brought more wealth to the city.

Centuries of peace and prosperity allowed Dubrovnik to flourish but much of its Renaissance art and architecture were destroyed in an earthquake in 1667. Some of the earthquake ruins were still visible. The city went into a decline and the final nail was driven when Napoleon entered the city in 1806 and declared an end to the republic.

Although it was demilitarized in the 1970s to protect it from war, in 1991, after the breakup of Yugoslavia, it was besieged by Serb and Montenegrin soldiers and suffered significant damage from shelling.

Our visit to the Maritime Museum was very interesting, highlighting the naval history with ship models, navigational objects, huge old atlases and paintings. After this we visited the Rector's Palace, which has had many reincarnations over the centuries resulting in different styles of architecture. Today the Rector's palace is the home to the history department of the museum of Dubrovnik. The majority of the halls have period furniture, portraits, coats of arms, coins minted by the Republic and old state documents, which recreate the original atmosphere of these rooms.

For us it was time to say goodbye to Dubrovnik. Back in the port we were refreshed with some lovely oatmeal cookies and iced tea as we waited for the tender to take us back to the yacht.

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