Saturday, 29 March 2014

Dubrovnik in a Day

I went on a Mediterranean cruise in September last year which I had chosen partly because I had always wanted to visit the Adriatic in general and Dubrovnik in particular. I am pleased to report that I was not disappointed, my only regret being that I could only spend a few hours there.

While the weather was not great, I hope you will agree that I took a few reasonable photos. which I would like to share with you. The easiest way to show the images will be to walk you through the day.

I decided to walk into Old Dubrovnik from the cruise ship terminal as it gave the opportunity to view the local town. It looked quite an easy walk on the information map I had, and it was - apart from the very long and steep hill between the port and the old town!

It did prove worthwhile however, as during the walk I came across the Love Locks of Dubrovnik

Thirty five meters above the sparkling blues of the Adriatic Sea, Dubrovnik lovers are pledging their love with Love Locks – the declaration of eternal love. On a three-metre-high fence where the padlocks engraved with hearts and lovers’ initials have been put as a symbol of eternal love to which the lovers have pledged.

The locks of love started appearing in February 2012 and they are interpreted as the intention to change Boninovo into a place of eternal love. The padlocks are placed on the fence secretly over the night and the keys to the locks are flung into the sea – the pact of love sealed with the waves.

I then proceeded to the Old City, which I entered through Pile Gate from where I took the main entrance onto the City Walls, from which you can get the very best views of the city. The full circuit of the walls is around 2 kilometres and involves climbing many steps but it is well worth the exertion!

From the walls I had a great view of the main street of the city, Stradun Dubrovnik.

Stradun or Placa is the main street of Dubrovnik. The limestone-paved pedestrian street runs some 300 metres through the Old Town, the historic part of the city, surrounded by the Walls of Dubrovnik from where this is taken. The Franciscan Monastery is on the left with the city Clock Tower at the end of the Stradun.

The Walls of Dubrovnik are a series of defensive stone walls that have surrounded and protected the citizens of Dubrovnik, since the city's founding prior to the 7th century. With numerous additions and modifications throughout their history, they have been considered to be amongst the great fortification systems of the Middle Ages, as they were never breached by a hostile army during this time period. In 1979, the old city of Dubrovnik, which includes a substantial portion of the old walls of Dubrovnik, joined the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.

 Walking along the walls in an anti-clockwise direction we passed the coast and then came round to the Old Harbour, or Gradska Luka, one of the oldest parts Dubrovnik, which provides a very pleasant area in which to have a short rest, before continuing on round the other half of the Walls, which have even more steps than the first half!
Walking around the walls gives some great views over the rooftops of Dubrovnik.

After circuiting the Old City I took a walk into the town and found an excellent bar in one of the side streets for a drink and a snack, before making my way to the lower station of the Cable Car, for what I expected to be stunning views of the city. 
The best views of Dubrovnik and the surrounding area are, without doubt, experienced from the top of the Srd Hill. The Dubrovnik Cable Car was built back in 1969 and had been out of use for almost two decades before being rebuilt and reopened again in July 2010. On a clear day, you can see up to 60 km (37 miles). For this reason the neighbouring Imperial Fortress was strategically built on this privileged spot, back in the early 19th century.

By the time the cable car had reached the top however, the clouds had rolled in and visibility was extremely poor.

My first thought was to walk round to the way back down, but decided to wait to see if the clouds cleared and within ten minutes or so visibility was good, giving stunning views over the city and surrounding area. 
A view of Dubrovnik and outlying Islands from the top of the cable car. The new harbour is seen to the right with the small island of Daksa and the larger island of Kolocep.

All too quickly it came time to leave Dubrovnik but as we sailed away I took this image of the Franjo Tudman Bridge, which provided a total contrast between the architecture of Dubrovnik Old Town and a magnificent example of modern design and bridge building.

Named after the first President of Croatia, the Franjo Tudman Bridge is a cable-stayed bridge crossing the D8 State Road over the Dubrovacka coastal inlet near the port of Gruz (a neighbourhood of Dubrovnik, Croatia).

Design of the original bridge was completed in 1989, however construction was halted at the onset of the Croatian War of Independence. The bridge was ultimately completed in April 2002 and officially opened one month later, at a cost of US$ 31 million -- making it the most expensive bridge in all of Croatia.

The bridge is 518 m (1,699 ft) long, consisting of a pier on the Western side of the inlet supporting a pre-tensioned girder and an anchoring pier on the Eastern side. The girder’s overall span is 325 m (1,065 ft), and the single pylon is 142 m (464 ft) tall.

I hope that this short essay has given you a taste of Dubrovnik and will encourage you to visit. I certainly hope to return and spend more than a few hours in Dubrovnik and to explore the many islands.

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