|An insider's guide to little-known places to go and things to see in Dubrovnik|
CAVTAT, THE ANCIENT EPIDAURUS
Cavtat is like Dubrovnik in miniature, a place where people like to go and breathe the fresh air of relaxation. It takes about 30 minutes from Dubrovnik with a car or a bus. Buses to Cavtat leave from the old and new bus station throughout the day.
The bus station in Cavtat is in the center and everything is close from there. The best place to start the sightseeing tour is the famous waterfront. Passing the market just next to the station and picking up some fruit will lead you to a nice walking place, the so called Riva. The sight from the beginning is blissful, especially while sun is setting. The bay that represents a resting point to many yachts and sailboats from different parts of the world, exit to the open sea in the distance, restaurants, few coffee shops near the sea and benches to sit and take rest. These are the first impressions of this little place.
Rector's Palace, St. Nicholas's church, St. Blasius's church and a Franciscan monastery remind people of Dubrovnik. It is worthwhile to visit these old monuments because there is a lot to learn about the style of life that once existed. Paintings of Vlaho Bukovac, famous Croatian impressionist painter from Cavtat decorate the church of St. Nicholas. His gallery is open for public and it is also the place where young artists exhibit their works, mixture of past and present art.
There is another famous painter that lives and works here for hundreds of years. It is the Mother Nature that paints this little place with strong green colors which attract a visitor to keep exploring every detail of it. A nice thing about Cavtat is that the walking place by the sea goes in circle. It leads all around, passing the beaches and small pathways that are calling for you to explore them.
A few pathways lead to cave Šipun, a legendary cave that was the shelter of a dragon in one chapter of its history. I heard very similar stories from other places as well, including England. All of them carry the same patterns and I find the idea of sharing similar stories of our human connection quite pleasing and comforting. For the last few years it was not possible to go inside the cave, but hopefully someone will take the initiative to open it again to the public eye. This just might happen when you decide to come... Here's the short version of the Dragon Tale:
The story says that the dragon was worshiped by the villagers during the ages of paganism. St. Hilarion brought the salvation from this primitive form of belief. The legend says that he tied the dragon to a string and dragged him right to the bonfire. That was the end of paganism and the beginning of Christianity in Cavtat.
The pathway next to cave Šipun goes through the pine tree forest and leads to the cemetery on the top of the hill St. Rok. Next to the cemetery, famous Croatian sculptor Ivan Meštrović built mausoleum of family Račić. This is an exceptional work of art and a real blessing for the eyes.
It would be a shame to miss this miniature town when visiting Dubrovnik, a nice day or an afternoon spent there will fill your trip with sights to keep in memory for a long time.
Cavtat can also be reached by regular boats departing from the port in the Old Town.