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Dubrovnik

The Old City is about a 40-minute walk from the harbour, or a 10-minute ride on Bus # 1A, 1B, or 1C to the Pile Gate; Bus #8 takes you to the lower station of the Cable Car.  As of this writing (September 2013), bus fares are in Kuna: 12 Kuna at newsstand/15 Kuna on board.  A taxi into the Old City will run about €10-15, and takes approximately 7 minutes.  Tourist Information centers are at Gruz (the cruise port), Lapad and Pile.

Croatia is in the process of converting its currency to Euros.  Some venues accept Euros and/or credit cards, while others accept only Kuna.  Prices are quoted in Kuna but, unless noted, you MAY be able to pay with Euros.

Although Dubrovnik has been walled since its founding as a Byzantine castrum (military camp) in the 7th century, today’s City Walls date largely from the 14th-15th centuries, and survived the 1667 earthquake largely intact.  A walk along the walls is 1.9 km (1.25 miles), and lets you take in all of the Old City from above.  Entrance is from the Pile Gate.  Open November-March 9:00 to 3; April-June, 8:00 to 4:30 Admission: 90 Kuna.  NB:  Admission is in Kuna only:  no credit cards, Euros or Dollars are accepted.

Game of Thrones – Dubrovnik is the stand-in for King’s Landing and Season 4 is filming here from July through September 2013.  It’s possible to book a “Game of Thrones” tour for a more in-depth look at the various locations used in the HBO hit show.  The more frugal among you may want to make note of the locations, many of which are part of the city’s massive fortifications:

Lovrijenac Fortress – the “Red Keep” – outside the City Walls, just west of the Pile Gate

Fort Bokar – the Walls of King’s Landing, from which you can see the “Red Keep”

Minceta Tower – the “House of the Undying” in Qarth

Sponza Palace

Rector’s Palace

Dominican Monastery

To book a tour:  http://www.viator.com/tours/Dubrovnik/Viator-Exclusive-Game-of-Thrones-Walking-Tour-of-Dubrovnik/d904-5360GAMETHRONES

Location photos:  http://moviemaps.org/movies/aa and  http://ageekabroad.net/kings-landing-dubrovnik-game-of-thrones-filming-location/

Here’s a link to a map of Dubrovnik:  http://www.dubrovnik-travel.net/gallery/var/albums/Maps-of-Dubrovnik/dubrovnik-old-town-map1.jpg?m=1337251589

Dubrovnik’s main street, Stradun (Placa), is one of the city’s best-known sights, lined with beautiful baroque buildings.  Historically, Stradun separates the earliest Illyrian settlement on the island of Laus from the 7th century refugee settlement of Dubrava,  (These Greco-Roman refugees were fleeing invading Slavs.)  In the 12th century, the narrow marshy channel separating the island from the mainland was filled in, creating Stradun.

Stradun runs west/east from the Pile Gate to the Old Harbour, and the city’s most important buildings/monuments are clustered at the two ends.  In the large open plaza at the west (Pile) end of Stradun stands the Great Onofrio Fountain, a domed marvel with 16 taps.  The fountain is the end point for an aqueduct built by Onofrio della Cava and Andriuzzi de Bulbilo in the 15th century.

On the south side of the plaza is St. Clara’s Convent, which now holds the Visia Dubrovnik 5D Multimedia Museum.  This is a state-of-the-art multimedia museum that uses virtual reality and holograms to reveal the history and culture of Dubrovnik and Croatia.  Offered in six languages – you’re bound to speak at least one of them!  (Open 9:00 to 10:00 – Admission 75 KN)

On the north side of the plaza are the Church of St. Saviour and the Franciscan Monastery.  St. Saviour is a small, Renaissance-style church built in 1520 as thanks for the city’s deliverance from an earthquake; it survived the 1667 earthquake unscathed.  The Monastery complex extends along Stradun to the east and north along the walls as far as the Minceta Tower.  Access is via a narrow passage from St. Saviour Church.  (Look sharp and you’ll see a small 12×12 stone with a carved face and a flat smooth top protruding about 6 inches above the pavement.  This is “The Mask,” and local legend holds that any man who can stand on the stone long enough to remove his shirt will have good luck!)  The Monastery’s Romanesque cloister dates to 1360; the complex also houses the oldest working pharmacy in Europe – it opened in 1317 – and holds a fascinating display of ancient lab equipment.  The original Franciscan Church was destroyed in the 1667 earthquake; it was reconstructed in the Baroque style and its portal – a combination of Gothic and Renaissance styles – moved to the church’s south wall on Stradun.  Of special interest is the Pieta in the lunette above the door.  Open Summer 9:00 to 6 – Winter hours are hit and miss – Admission 30 KN

Stradun ends in another open square near the City Harbour.  In the center of the square is Orlando’s Column, a tribute to the legendary French hero Roland (Orlando in Italian), who died fighting Islamic invaders at the Battle of Roncesvalles.  (A second legend has it that Orlando’s fleet saved Dubrovnik from a Saracen siege in the 9th century.) In any event, the column was raised in 1418 and became the focal point of civic life:  public proclamations were made from the platform at its top, and state punishments were carried out before it.

St. Blaise’s Church faces the square on the south.  Named for the city’s saint protector, the church has stood on this spot since 1368.  The original church was destroyed in a fire; the present building dates from 1717.  The church’s front steps are the setting for some of the most important events of the life of the city, including New Year’s Eve and the opening night of the Dubrovnik Summer Festival.  Open 8:00 to Noon and 4:00 to 6.

To the east of the square is the Bell Tower, where two oxidized copper figures strike the bell with hammers.  These are the zelenci, or “green ones,” replacements for the bell’s original wooden figures.  The bell is the only original part of the 1444 tower, which was destroyed and rebuilt in 1928.  The Small Onofrio’s Fountain, decorated with playful dolphins, stands near the Bell Tower.

Just south of the Bell Tower is a remarkable series of buildings, beginning with the three huge arches of the old Arsenal.  Once a dry-dock for the repair of galleons, it is now a grand café overlooking St. Blaise’s Church.  Next to it is City Hall and the Marin Drzic Theatre.  The original 14th century City Hall was destroyed by a fire in 1816; the current building dates from 1882, and also houses the Marin Drzic Theatre

Next to City Hall is the Rector’s Palace, the former residence of the Republic’s figurehead.  The Rector was elected from within the nobility; he was confined to the Palace for the duration of his one-month term, and could only leave on official business.  The present Renaissance building dates to the 1460s; Baroque alterations were added in the 17th century, following the 1667 earthquake.  The Palace is now the Cultural History Museum displaying artwork, clothing, furniture and other objects from the 14th-19th centuries.  You can also tour the Rector’s offices and quarters, as well as the arsenal, courtroom and prison cells.  Open November-March 9:00 to 4, April-October 9:00 to 6 – Admission 70 KN

NB:  The “Dubrovnik Card” permits entry to the City Walls, the Natural History Museum, the Martin Drzic House, the Maritime Museum, the Dulcic-Masley-Pulitika Gallery, Art Gallery Dubrovnik, the Rupe Ethnographic Museum and the Rector’s Palace.  A daily pass sells for 130 KN/117 KN on-line.  http://www.dubrovnikcard.com/clanak.php?id=43

At the end of Prod Dvorom, to the south of the Rector’s Palace, is Assumption Cathedral.  The current Baroque cathedral was built between 1672 and 1713, on the ruins of a 12th century Romanesque cathedral that was, in turn, built on the remains of a 7th century Byzantine cathedral – both destroyed in earthquakes.  Among the cathedral’s treasures are relics of St. Blaise and Titian’s painting of the Assumption on the main altar.  Daily Mass at 7:30 AM and 6 PM; Sunday Mass at 9:00, 10:00 and 6:00.  Admission to the Treasury – 15 KN..

At the end of Stradun, on the north side of the street, is the Sponza Palace, a Gothic-Renaissance building begun in 1516.  One of the few buildings to survive the quake of 1667, the Palace gives some idea of how Dubrovnik looked in Republican times, when it housed the customs house, the mint, the treasury, the bank and the armoury. Today, the Palace houses the Dubrovnik State Archives, and preserves the historical heritage of the Dubrovnik Republic.  Open daily – Admission – 15 KN.

Around the corner from the Sponza Palace, just down Ul. Sv. Dominika, are two small churches.  The first is St. Nicholas, a small pre-Romanesque style typical of Dalmatia in the early Middle Ages.  (The Renaissance façade was added in 1607.)  Inside are stone ornaments reminiscent of Celtic knot-work; these are called pleter, and are common in early Croatian churches.  The painting of the Madonna dates to the 13th century.  The second church, St. Sebastian, was built in 1446 as protection against the plague.

At the end of Ul. Sv. Dominika is the Dominican Monastery and, directly opposite, the Confraternity of the Rosary Church.  The Church, which dates to 1594, is now used as an occasional gallery space.  The Monastery itself dates to the 14th century, and was an important part of the city’s defenses. A doorway at the top of a grand semi-circular staircase gives way to a 15th century Gothic-Renaissance cloister filled with palms and orange trees.  The Dominican Museum is accessed via the cloister, and contains many artworks, including a triptych of the Madonna and Child with pre-1667 earthquake Dubrovnik in the background.  Open Winter 9:00 to 5, daily; Summer 9:00 to 6 daily – Admission 20 KN.

At the end of Ul. Sv. Dominika is the Ploce Gate and Fort Revelin beyond.  Built in 1463 as defense against the Ottoman threat, the Fort is now the Dubrovnik Virtual Museum by day and a nightclub after dark.  Just beyond the Fort is the Lazareti, the old quarantine houses for travelers in times of plague.  Today the stone buildings house artists’ workshops and the occasional concert.

Other Sights

Serbian Orthodox Church and Museum of the Icons – at the corner of N Bozidarevica and Od Puca – built between 1865-1877, the church holds a number of Byzantine and Cretan icons; a more extensive collection is on the second floor of the building next door.  Open 8:00 to 2 and 4:00 to 9 – Admission is free

Synagogue Museum – Ul. Zudioska – the oldest Sephardic synagogue still in use, established in 1352 – the small museum contains artifacts from the community’s history in Dubrovnik.  Open Mon thru Fri May-Nov 10 to 8; Dec-Mar 10 to 1; Apr 10:00 to 3 – Admission 15 KN.

For more in-depth information:  http://www.jpost.com/Travel/Travel-News/Visiting-Jewish-Dubrovnik-pearl-of-the-Adriatic

St Ignatius’ Church – a monumental Baroque staircase leads from Gundulic Square to the Poljana Ruđera Boškovića and the Church of St Ignatius – built between 1667 and 1725 and modeled on Gesu, the Jesuit mother church in Rome.  One of the finest examples of Baroque architecture in the city.  Open 8:00 to 5

City Harbour – access is next to the Rector’s Palace – once the home port of Dubrovnik’s merchant navy, today the Harbour is a fine place for lunch or to buy local textiles from the ladies sewing in the shade

Dubrovnik Cable Car – a 1-2 hour trip – accessible from Gruz Harbour via the #8 bus – tickets can be purchased at the lower station on King Petar Kresimir Street, in Restaurant Dubravka (near the Pile Gate) or in restaurant and souvenir shops – the terraces of the upper station, atop Mount Srd, provide panoramic views. Open June-Jan 9 to 4; Feb-Mar 9 to 5; Apr-May 9 to 8 – Admission 87 KN, Kids 40 KN.

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