Situated in the far south of the Dalmatia region, this Croatian port was thought to have been settled in the 7th century CE, however, recent evidence points to an even earlier founding. No matter its age, this city is as rich with history as its famed walls are thick.
Originally referred to by the Italian name Ragusa, Dubrovnik has been under the protection of numerous empires throughout the centuries, including the Ostrogoths, Byzantines, Venetians and Austrians as well as extended periods of independence. In the past two centuries alone Dubrovnik has been ruled by the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Kingdom of Yugoslavia, Nazi Germany, Communist Yugoslavia and now Croatia. Although this frequent changing of hands was generally non-violent, a major earthquake in 1667 destroyed much of the renaissance-era architecture in the city.
Nonetheless, the city is now a UNESCO Cultural Heritage Site and features numerous historical attractions in addition to stunning views of the Mediterranean. The oldest operating pharmacy in Europe resides in Dubrovnik, dating back to 1317, as do the 15th century Sponza Palace and Big Onofrio’s Fountain.
Referred to by Lord Byron as “the pearl of the Adriatic,” the historic walled city is almost always closed to motorized traffic, allowing for incomparable ambiance that exudes old-world charm. Cafés and vendors dot “The City,” as the locals refer to the walled old city, which overlooks the quaint, picturesque harbor.
To keep palates interested, Dubrovnik’s cuisine is known for its fresh ingredients, especially those from the bountiful sea upon which it lies. Not heavily spiced, the food here is simple and traditional. Leave room for dessert though as dubrovacka rozata, a style of crème brulee, and bruštulane mjendule, sugared almonds served in most cafes, are delectable local favorites.
Dubrovnik may not be as well known as other destinations in the Mediterranean, yet with a rich culture overflowing with history, architecture and art to go along with beautiful beaches, it’s a hidden gem that should be on any travelers destination list.