|An insider's guide to little-known places to go and things to see in Dubrovnik|
OLD TOWN, A VIVID EXAMPLE OF HISTORY
Old Town is the easiest place to find in Dubrovnik, it represents Dubrovnik itself. In whatever part of the town you are located, any five star or one star hotel you're in, any apartment or a little room, all is connected to the Old Town. Every road and bus or your feet will lead you there. You'll finally end up in Pile, a place outside the City Walls that gives an introduction to the ancient open stage of old Dubrovnik. Crossing the stone bridge above the hidden park full of trees and passing the great Pile gate will take you inside, behind the curtains.
Stradun represents the core of the Old Town. The word comes from Venetian "stradone" which means "big street". It is the center and any corner is the meeting place of locals and visitors. Walking down this big street, people who work in restaurants will offer you the menu every 20-30 meters, but don't get discouraged, you will eventually find a proper meal in one of numerous choices. The summer season is the hot button for everyone, even the renaissance ladies and gentlemen who walk across Stradun smiling to everyone. Their renaissance bow is perfect for taking photo. To sit in one of the café places just at Stradun gives a privileged view to the very center of happenings.
THE TWO FOUNTAINS AND CLEAR WATER
Two Fountains of Onofrio decorate the beginning and the end of Stradun. The first one is the big one with stone masks throwing water out of their mouth. Dubrovnik was one of few european cities that had spring water, a very rare diamond in those days. It is safe to drink the water from the fountain, nobody ever got poisoned. It is a real refreshment during hot summer days and it's free, what more can one want!
The City Walls have protected Dubrovnik throughout its history and they never collapsed because of diplomatic attitude of Dubrovnik's citizens, treating every country equally and finding solutions to bypass aggressive conflicts by turning them into reasonable outcomes. The variety of cultures in Dubrovnik is obvious in synagogue and orthodox church, along with many Christian churches, monasteries, convents and a beautiful cathedral.
To walk across the walls is an extraordinary experience and an exercise as well because it takes about 45 minutes of walking and sightseeing. The view from the walls stretches to horizon, little islet of Lokrum, the entire scenery of the Old Town and surrounding hill Srd. A tour across the walls is the perfect opportunity to discover little secrets of this town, maybe those secrets nobody has yet discovered... Every rock is full of history.
Walls are open for visits every day all day long, from early morning till early evening in the summer and spring time. But you can pay a visit during any season.
After 45 minutes of excercise your body will be thirsty and a perfect place to satisfy the thirst is to go to the market. At the end of Stradun, street at the right leads to Gundulić Square where the market is. When there, you will observe the scene made of high statue of famous croatian poet Ivan Gundulić, under him the benches full of fruits, vegetables, dry figs, aromatic oils, home made cheese, liquers and various products with centuries old tradition. Behind the benches there are lovely characters, hosts to everybody who visits their market. A homey atmosphere indeed...
When your Old Town tour comes to an end, I suggest the next step of hopping to other places like islands and places out of Dubrovnik. Old Port is the starting point in visiting main Dubrovnik islands as well as places near Dubrovnik with alot of stories to be heard.
When you get to know the Old Town on your first visit you will feel how vivid it still is, knowing that it is hundreds of years old but it lives even today in its full glory.