Like something out of a picture-perfect fairy tale, the Old Town of Dubrovnik, Croatia, is a walled medieval city, with drawbridges and 18-ft-high gates guarding the main entrances. The entire city is a UNESCO World Heritage site, but it's also very much a living, breathing city. Because the Old Town is blissfully free of traffic, the main streets, squares and alleyways are perfect for exploring the city on foot. The views of the city and the sea are amazing from the city walls.
Most of the inhabitants of Dubrovnik live outside of the Old Town's city walls. However, inside those walls, the streets and alleyways are crammed with tiny shops, bars, cafes and restaurants that spill out onto the street at every conceivable point.
The serious damage from the Serbia-Croatian War has been completely repaired. Locals are still keen to point out the shrapnel and bullet damage that has been retained as a reminder of those dark days, which still come up frequently in conversation.
Dubrovnik has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe because of its warm climate, proximity to the sea and its rich historic and cultural heritage. In addition, many Game of Thrones fans visit the city to see the original locations that were used in the popular TV show.
The island-studded coast of Croatia is generally referred to as the Dalmatian coast.
The city of Dubrovnik was named Ragusa until around 1918. At that time, the name Dubrovnik, which is derived from the Croatian word dubrava (oak forest), became the city's official name.
The Republic of Dubrovnik was the first state to recognize the U.S. as a sovereign country.
Croatian-born actor Goran Visnjic, perhaps best known as Dr. Luka Kovac in the television drama ER, was the six-year reigning prince of the Dubrovnik Summer Festival for his lead in Hamlet before heading to Hollywood.
According to local history, Richard the Lionheart gave funds to the city of Dubrovnik to build its cathedral after he found refuge in the city from a storm during his return from a crusade.
The winds through the Adriatic have names, habits and even moods. Maestral is the light summer daytime breeze from the northwest; from the north comes the bora, which is cold and dry but considered good; the jugo blows warm and moist from the southeast and puts the locals in a bad mood.
Dubrovnik's city walls represent some of the most durable fortress walls in the region. They encircle the city with a length that spans 6,365 ft. The walls saved the lives of thousands of residents during the siege in 1991-92.
The Feast of St. Blaise, the city's iconic patron saint, is arguably the most important date of the year in Dubrovnik. On 3 February, the celebrations begin with the release of doves from the St. Blaise Church. Processions, Masses, games and parties follow.
Perhaps the most enjoyable time in Dubrovnik is spent strolling through the alleyways peeking in the little shops, stopping in tiny bars and absorbing the medieval atmosphere of a walled city and its well-preserved architecture.
Passport/Visa Requirements: Passports, but not visas, are needed by US citizens for stays of up to three months. Reconfirm travel document requirements with your carrier before departure.
If arriving by land from the north, don't forget that the highway crosses through a small portion of Bosnia. Bosnia has similar visa requirements, but do double-check to avoid problems.
Languages: Croatian. However, English, Italian, German and other languages are spoken, especially in tourist-oriented locations.
Predominant Religions: Christian (Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodoxy).
Voltage Requirements: 220 Volts, 50 Hz.
The weather is typically Mediterranean, with mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers. Snow is very rare, and the temperature rarely drops below 40 F. Heat can be a problem in high summer, but the mercury rarely exceeds 85 F (although the temperature can be magnified if you're strolling inside the city walls). Spring and autumn are the best months to explore the city unless you're there for a sun-and-sea vacation. It can rain at any time during winter, and you will often need to wrap up in warm layers or a lightweight winter jacket.
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Courtesy of: Darla Logsdon
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