Dubrovnik, Croatia Travel - Guides
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It would take an army of Hollywood special-effects experts to design a set as perfect and pure as Dubrovnik, and a team of creative stagehands to build it. Yet this "city made of stone and light" is as strong and magnificent as the shimmering sunsets that ricochet off its 14th-century ramparts. It is as ethereal as the foam on the azure waves caressing the land beneath them. In short: This UNESCO World Heritage city is a stunner.
Even after being devastated by Serb shells in the 1991-92 siege, today's Dubrovnik is remarkably whole and flawless. In fact, a shade of red is one of the few telltale reminders of those violent days: New terra-cotta roof tiles on buildings blasted in the war are a little brighter and a little more orange than older roof tiles that escaped Serb mortars. Hard as they tried, the city fathers were unable to find enough tiles to match the old tiles when doing repairs after the Serb attacks, and they had to settle for the new ones. You might find a tiny bullet scar if you are looking for such reminders, but by and large the "Pearl of the Adriatic" is as lustrous as it was 5 centuries ago when Dubrovnik was a major sea power bustling with prosperous merchants and aristocrats, and dripping with Renaissance grandeur.
Dubrovnik (nee Ragusa) began as a Roman settlement. From the Middle Ages on it was a prize sought by Venice, Hungary, Turkey, and others who recognized the city's logistical value as a maritime port. But Libertas (Liberty) has always been uppermost in the minds of Dubrovnik's citizens, and through the ages their thirst for independence repeatedly trumped other nations' plans to conquer their city.
In 1667, another kind of assault leveled Dubrovnik when a catastrophic earthquake destroyed almost everything in Old Town. Only a few original palaces and church buildings were left standing. The city was quickly rebuilt in the new baroque style of the times, only to be shattered again in the 1991-92 siege, this time from the skies. Croatia's war with Serbia destroyed the entire country's tourism industry. Dubrovnik, one of the most popular towns to visit, was physically scarred from the war, and economically crushed from the lack of visitors. However, crowds are once again flocking to this charming city nestled between the Adriatic and Dinaric Alps, returning it to its former status as a vacation destination par excellence.
Inside Dubrovnik's walls, the pedestrian-only Old Town once again resembles a glistening marble world stage bustling with people from far and near. Here you will find almost all the Dubrovnik sights worth seeing--historic churches and public buildings, designer shops and homey restaurants, ancient sculptures and modern galleries, fountains and bell towers, monasteries and gardens--and the most famous of all, the ancient city wall and its towers. Today's Dubrovnik attracts visitors from all socio-economic levels and corners of the world, whether they are student backpackers, ultrarich celebrities, or anyone in between.
Outside the walls, Dubrovnik's suburban districts are clogged with hotels, restaurants, parks, campgrounds, and other services, all existing for the hordes of tourists who come to Dubrovnik to bask in the city's Mediterranean magic and revel in its citizens' exuberant devotion to Libertas.
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