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IDS 2008 International Diatom Symposium - Dubrovnik Croatia

Explore Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik, in the extreme south of Croatia, is known as the Pearl of the Adriatic. A rich and powerful city state until 1806, the proud city once known as Ragusa has a population of over 120,000. Structural damage suffered during the siege of 1991 and 1992, at the hands of the Yugoslav People's Army, has been repaired and visitors once again flock to this tranquil city, nestled between the Adriatic and Dinaric Alps. A wealth of sites lies within the walls of the pedestrian-only Old Town.

The golden walled city of Dubrovnik is one of the most celebrated beauty spots of the Mediterranean. It is a harmonious showcase of art and civil, religious and military architecture from the Renaissance and Baroque periods. Ragusa was one of the great trading powers of the eastern Mediterranean from the Renaissance to the Napoleonic era. Sidelined from history after that, it was spared ugly industrial development and survived intact, a beautiful city proud of its history and culture. It became fashionable first as an exotic winter destination and gained in popularity after the Second World War, when the inauguration of the Libertas summer festival of classical music, theatre and drama brought the city to the attention of a wider international public.

During the most recent Balkan war Dubrovnik was repeatedly bombarded and suffered terrible damage to its marble streets and old roofs. But its citizens refused to leave, and the city was quickly restored after the war, to magnificent effect. A UNESCO World Heritage site, it is leading the revival in Croatia’s fortunes as the fashionable Mediterranean destination of the moment.

The highlight of any visit to Croatia deserves more than a day or two of your time. As well as walking the ramparts and visiting its monuments, take the time to stroll at leisure through the old city, enjoying the bustle and vibrant cultural life of a fashionable Mediterranean resort. The city is also an excellent base for excursions. Boat trips to islands such as Mljet and Korcula are easily arranged. Don’t be in a rush to enjoy Dubrovnik.

We wish you a pleasant stay in Dubrovnik and around.

Recommended attractions

Attraction type: Neighborhood; Scenic/historic walking area

Dubrovnik has a remarkable history. An independent, merchant republic for 700 years (abolished by Napoleon in 1806), it traded with Turkey and India in the East (with a consul in Goa, India) and had trade representatives in Africa (in the Cape Verde Islands). It even had diplomatic relations with the English court in the middle ages. Its status was such that powerful and rich Venice was envious of this Croatian-Slav city.

The old town was completed in the 13th century and remains virtually unchanged to the present day. Tall ramparts surround it and there are only two entrances to the old town which lead to the Stradun, the city's promenade. One of the greatest pleasures for many visitors is to have a drink in one of the nearby cafes and watch the world go by, whilst they themselves are being watched by the city patron, St. Blaise, or Sveti Vlaho as the locals call him. In 1991/2, the Serbs shelled the city causing considerable damage, but thanks to local efforts and international aid, the old town has been restored to its former beauty.
But whatever we say, our words do not give justice to this dazzling place. So come soon and see it with your own eyes!

Attraction type: Ancient ruins; Scenic/historic walking area; Historic village

There’s no better way to appreciate Dubrovnik’s history and architecture than by traversing the beautiful walls that surround the Old Town. There are two entrances, but the best (and most popular) is on the left side of Stradun, just after you enter the city from the Pile Gate (which is topped by a large Croatian flag.) Entrance costs 30Kn (students 20Kn, children 10Kn) and it’s a good idea to bring something to drink as the two-kilometer circuit contains many steps and can get quite tiring, particularly in hot weather.

The walls offer outstanding views into the Old Town and its red-tiled roofs, the Old Port (and the nearby island of Lokrum), and out to sea, but are also quite a sight unto themselves. For all their present harmony, they were actually constructed and expanded over the course of four centuries (from the 1200s to the 1600s) and their sixteen towers reflect a variety of architectural styles. Many individual fortifications, such as the Pile Gate (which is mentioned in sources as early as 972 but which was reinforced in 1461) are even older.

Attraction type: Historic village; Mall; Street

The main east-west thoroughfare is Placa, though locals prefer to call it Stradun. This is like one long pedestrian plaza, with lots of cafes and touristy shops. The marble-paved Placa basically splits the old town into two. The northern part rises up steeply to match the green hills in the background. The southern half of old Dubrovnik is basically level, as it meets the harbor side.

The west end of Placa is marked by the large Onofrio Fountain rotunda (built in 1438) that is a water fountain to grateful sun-baked travelers. The two Onofrio Fountains at either end of Placa are in essence the "pubs of Dubrovnik". Just north of the rotunda is the Franciscan Monastery, significant because it holds a pharmacy and museum that has been functioning since the 1300's.
Pred Dvorom is a prominent pedestrian street running perpendicular to Placa at its easternmost point, and is in a sense an extension of Placa.

The Orlando Column (dated 1419) in the center marks the east end of Placa, with perhaps the finest ensemble of buildings in Dubrovnik. The arcaded Sponza Palace (built 1441) is the north "wall" of this square, with the slender clock tower on the east side. Placa officially ends at the tower, though a smaller serpentine path continues past this eastern wall to the eastern Ploce Gate.

Attraction type: Architectural building

The Sponza Palace has one of the oldest and most voluminous archives in the WORLD! It is said to hold 7000 volumes and over 100.000 individual manuscripts from the Republic including records of travelers, commerce, protocols of the Councils and all nature of historical political, economic and diplomatic data. The oldest Archive dates to 1072! Again this is a Gothic-Renaissance combo like other of Dubrovnik’s facades. It was known for most of its life as 'the Customs house' for obvious reasons. Fittingly the name Sponza derives from the word for sponge – as it was here the water was collected from the alluvial deposits!

Attraction type: History museum; Historic home; Historic site

The Rector's palace was the centre of government in the old Dubrovnik Republic.
Mainly built in gothic style this building, simple and harmonic, seems almost too modest for the once so wealthy Dubrovnik. And that is not at all surprising as it is consistent with Dubrovnik omnipresent unpretentious style of building with no exaggerated luxury. Upon entering The Rector's palace one gets the impression of the past centuries returning and holds breath as if seeing the Rector himself followed by the members of The Small council (executive governmental body).
The Rector's palace was built in mid 15th century by the famous Neapolitan architect Onofrio di Giordano de la Cava who also constructed the Dubrovnik's water supply system and the famous fountains, Big and Small Onofrio's fountains.

Later when the palace was damaged in 1463 by gunpowder explosion, it was partly reconstructed by Salvi di Michele and the local craftsman adding Renaissance elements. Resulting from damage in the Great earthquake in the year of 1667 the atrium was reconstructed to some extent in baroque style adding the final touch to the Rector's palace, the way we see it today. The Rector's palace today is a Cultural Historical Museum featuring authentic exhibition halls with numerous items from rich Dubrovnik history.