The Venice of Croatia, King’s Landing, Ragusa or Dubrovnik. Those attributes belong to the city located in between the high hills and the calm Adriatic Sea. Never heard of that? Don’t worry, me either, until the time I was about to visit it. And now I will remember it forever.
Introduction of Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik lays in the southeast part of Croatia on the Dalmatian coast. Monumental walls, which are surrounding the city are the clear remainder of its former glory, while hundreds of people who daily visit it are the proof of its nowadays strength. The city itself is magical. Every little inch smells of history, high culture, and wealth. Ragusa hasn’t changed itself much from the times of middle ages. The time doesn’t pass in Dubrovnik, and you can feel it thanks to the walls, old but as good as new churches and the whole Old Town, which is part of UNESCO World Heritage site. Those narrow streets are home for 40 000 people right now, so it is not a large city at all.
History of Dubrovnik
After brief introduction let’s make a short jump in Dubrovnik’s history, which is especially attractive. Why? You ask. Well, it is not a big city at all; it was never the central city to any empire, and Alexander the Great was not born there. So how could be Dubrovnik, historically, of course, so relevant and engaging? Slyness is the answer, and yeah, the geographical location too. Slyness? Really? Hell yeah. Ragusa was like Little Finger of Europe. They knew how to play a game, and that ability saved it many times.
Why was Dubrovnik so unique?
From many legends surrounding Dubrovnik, I’ll tell you only a few.
This city was skilled in diplomacy. When the army of thousands of men, hundred times bigger as Dubrovnik came, instead of sending the troops, It sent its diplomats. They didn’t fight useless battles with enormous empires, essentially when the ending was very clear from the beginning. Instead, they surrounded, most of the times. But under one condition. Independence. What? When you are conquering something YOU want to hold it entirely, YOU want to rule there; YOU want to decide. And that is not possible with autonomy. So why would you let Dubrovnik be sovereign? Gold. How could Ragusa have enough money to buy its freedom? Trade.
Trade which served Dubrovnik for a long time
Dubrovnik was like a small gate to the eastern world. It held its deals with India, Turkey, Africa, and other countries of the east, but also to the west. The business was easy for merchants from Dubrovnik because the city lays on the coast of Mediterranean Sea, which means that you could simply get your fines from the pearl of Jadran to distant Spain. And what’s even better, when you wanted to sail to Venezia, the center of trade in Medditarean Sea, you had to pass Dubrovnik. There was no way you could skip it.
Shame for Venezia but a victory for Dubrovnik. Don’t you understand? Imagine. You are a merchant. You want to make money because you have children to feed. Medditarean Sea bubbles over pirates, who are waiting for your fines as hungry wolves. What do you do? You securely sell your good stuff for a good price in Ragusa, and then you’ll send ”the trash” over to Venezia. And that’s the reason, why even mighty Venice was once envious of Dubrovnik.
The history is repeating itself
That diplomacy and trade earned Dubrovnik 700 years of independence. You had to be very powerful when you could manage to stay self/governing for that long in medieval ages. But those glory times are gone. Nowadays is Ragusa part of Croatia and touristic it is one of the most attractive cities in the country. 2 million people visited the city in 2015. And I’d say that is mainly because of its history or better, because of what that history has created. The beautiful churches from all different styles, imposing buildings for various purposes that are rising above the clear sea, are the bright note of that history.
Dubrovnik as King’s Landing
Dubrovnik’s nature and history creations also charmed the HBO production team. And thanks to that Ragusa also gained another title. The King’s Landing. If you are not familiar with Game of Thrones, you are now just like “What the hell are you talking about.” No, I did not go mad.
Dubrovnik is the place, where the central city to Westeros, King’s Landing remelts to reality. When you are in this town, you feel like in King’s Landing, cos you can see all those places. Fort Lovrijenac as the Red Keep, where His Majesty King Joffrey celebrated his name day or Cersei’s Walk of Shame street and even more. Those all places are in Dubrovnik. If you are a fan of GoT, you’ll feel incredible walking through it and spontaneously recognizing those areas.
When you visit Dubrovnik
History, nature or Game of Thrones are not the only things that Ragusa can offer. There is a lot more. A loooot. You can do everything in there. And I’m not kidding. Ragusa lives from tourism. Sea kayaking, Cliff jumping, Bungee jumping, city tours, cabins, scuba diving. You name it, and I can guarantee you that it’s possible in that crazy town.
Just don’t forget to bring comfortable shoes, because you’ll have to walk a lot to get yourself to those funny things. Dubrovnik is all about Up and downs. Endless steps down, and even more many steps up. You could never count them all. And yeah, try to skip gym at least for two weeks before visiting King’s Landing. Otherwise, you’ll die of exhaustion.
Dubrovnik, city of ghosts
For a tourist like me, Ragusa looked like a heaven on the earth. It is, but it also has the dark side. I don’t want to disappoint you. However, tourists are Dubrovniks doom. Thanks to visitors the prices in the town are so high that Croatian people can’t afford to live in there. It goes during the tourist’s season when they have work, but after that, when Ragusa transforms into the city of ghosts, there’s nothing you could do. Just move out. And that’s what happens in there every autumn. Only a few hundreds of people winter in Ragusa. Mainly old ones. And what that’s mean? Potentially no future for the city.
But don’t let this fact discourage you from visiting Croatian Venice. I stayed in there for three days, and I’d recommend it. It is paradise on the earth. The hidden pearl. You’ll get lost in its charming streets. Your problems will magically disappear. You’ll feel that calming atmosphere of the city. The locals will enchant you with their hospitality and kindness. And you’ll never forget the picture of the pink sun setting down in the infinite blue sea. I’m not dramatic. Dubrovnik is a place in the world, where nothing else matters, only enjoying your life. If you are looking for escape hole or chilled summer vacation, visit it. And I can tell you, that this city will steal your heart.
Have you ever visited Dubrovnik? What was it like? The thing that you liked the most? Any negative experiences? Please write me in the comment section about your experiences with a Pearl of Mediterranean Sea. Stay tuned, because more content is coming.
Credit for few photos goes to solvoanimus.