Dubrovnik, the “Pearl of the Adriatic”, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and perhaps the most important touristic site in Croatia.
This is nothing new, as this massive luxury hotel was built in 1897.
Today the Old Town and the surroundings are peppered with massive hotels like this one and countless little pensions and vacation apartments.
And people go because the architecture is magnificent.
You can’t really see the damage that was done during the 1991-92 siege of the city by Serbian forces, but it was extensive. This map shows the various points of impact and shrapnel damage throughout the old town. In red, the buildings that burned down. In total 56% of the buildings were damaged. This was a scandal in Western media at the time. The death of 114 people, not as much.
And as you would expect around an enormously popular pedestrian town, traffic to and from there can get insane.
And pedestrian traffic inside is not much better. Keep in mind I visited outside the peak June-July season!
And from the narrow lanes.
To the large street, everything is a restaurant, a hotel or a souvenir shop. In the winter, all the good restaurants close. In medieval times, Dubrovnik was an important trading city, keeping a tight balance in its dealings with the giants of the area, Venice and the Ottoman Empire. While it did not seek to conquer lands, it established small trading posts around the world and grew very wealthy, until an earthquake nearly destroyed the entire city in 1667. Interesting factoids; slavery was abolished as early as the 15th century and at the time, the official language of the city was still Latin! Today the main industry is the sale of ice cream, followed closely by refrigerator magnets.
Maybe Croatians have moved out because the stores sell radioactive clothes?
Apart from tourists, there are also countless cats everywhere. They are generally pretty and look well taken care of.
But despite this insane development, I still saw a number of abandoned apartments. I didn’t find out why, but I can imagine two explanations. Either the protected status of the whole area makes renovations prohibitively expensive or, as is the case in other parts of the former Yugoslavia, there are lingering legal battles over ownership of some buildings caused by wartime displacements.
There are small museums and churches to visit, but the main thing to do in Dubrovnik is to walk along the 2 km defensive wall for the magnificent views it offers. Considering the “attraction” only consists in letting you walk on a wall, the $20 price tag is a little stiff, but it is well worth it. Unlike staying in Dubrovnik, which I can’t find a good reason to do. These pictures are in order in which I took them, so it gives an idea of the scenery as you walk around, which going slowly, takes about an hour.
The weather when I left. I laugh when an old friend, unaware of the local weather, sent me a message on Facebook with a beach recommendation for Dubrovnik!