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Dubrovnik – Climb the walls, view the roofs

Tiếng Việt

Dubrovnik was chosen as the first destination because of the extreme curiosity as its reputation surpasses the one of country it belongs to. Every year, Dubrovnik attracts 30 times more tourists than the city’s population. It seems to have something to suit everyone with each mood and interest, from its historical and cultural sites to the  multi-style ancient architecture or the beautiful natural scenery along the dreamlike Adriatic coast.

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Unique city walls surround Dubrovnik’s old town

In 3 short days when Dubrovnik was not the most crowded, we experienced the bustle and hustle of Dubrovnik’s old town, and admired local people on their way of preserving the cultural identity to avoid the consequences of its fame.

Excitedly admire a sea of red-brown tiled roofs appearing over the majestic ancient walls, spontaneously stroll in the King’s Landing old town, sip a beer in a cliff bar, shiver in the freezing but clear water of Mediterranean beaches, then immersed in the gorgeous sunsets at the end of the day were the experiences that reminded me of a passionate and energetic Dubrovnik.

Spontaneously strolling in King’s Landing

Chosen as the setting for King’s Landing in the hit series “Game of Thrones”, Dubrovnik’s old town is genuinely one of the most beautiful and perfectly preserved medieval cities in the world.

The architecture in Dubrovnik’s old town is the blend of many styles reflecting its history. Gothic churches, Baroque monasteries and palaces harmoniously interwoven with the fountains and bell towers marked the Renaissance. The features carved on the stones and on the walls are not too fussy, but still exudes a regal classical appearance.

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The Large Onofrio’s fountain

Stradun is the widest street in the old town,  connecting the two main gates of Ploce and Pile. Each end is marked by fountains and bell towers. It is also considered as the center of the old town, filled with a series of cafes, restaurants, and countless fashion & souvenir shops. It is crowded regardless the time of the day, sunny or rainy. Perhaps the footsteps of millions of visitors each year have contributed to make these rocks eroded, becoming so glossy. Specifically, it is always clean and absolutely no trace of any garbage is seen. 

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Stradun in early morning
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Stradun at night

For the fans of Game of Thrones (like me), it is an extremely exciting pleasure to spot the corners that were filmed by yourself, instead of following designed tours. The Jesuits staircase, where Queen Cersei walked in shame when she was punished by the church, appears as glorious as it was in the movie, while Pile harbor – the familiar coast of King’s Landing is not as crowded with plenty of boats. Borak Fort or Lovrijenac Fort are also easily recognized as they are shown in many episodes.

Above all, what attracts me the most in the old town of Dubrovnik is probably the matrix of small alleys with endless staircases, stretching along the mountainside, and then all lead to the sparkling stone paved squares. The colorful lanterns seem to be the only modern element in this ancient ambience. When night falls, the dim yellow lights make these small alleys more fanciful and magical.

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“Each inch of land does matter” – Onofrio fountain from the wall

A nice culture that Dubrovnik offers to its visitors is the open-air market in every mornings (except Sundays). Behind St Blaise’s Church, wooden stalls with fruits, vegetables, flowers and lots of “home-made” products are nicely filled up Gundulic squareAfter only a few hours, all were cleaned up, no traces left, leaving the whole space for restaurants and cafes

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Gundulic square at noon, after the open-air market is closed
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Climb the walls, view the roofs

The huge stone walls built from the 12th century to the 17th century are not only the pride of Dubrovnik, but also a symbol of Croatia’s defensive history. Running continuously for nearly 2km, some sections of the wall reach 25m high, the wall and intermittent fortresses are the invincible system of fortifications of the medieval and early modern period that continue to cover and protect Dubrovnik’s old town.

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One corner of Dubrovnik’s walls

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Walking along the city walls, listening to the sound of the wind blowing through the stone windows, I felt like I was a time traveler because the reality and history were confusingly intermingled. The cannons were quietly facing the sea, but recalled the arrogance and majesty of an ancient illustrious time. The big stones were stacked on top of each other in a straight line, creating a magnificent wall circling a cluster of red -brown tiled roofs below. 

The old and new roofs overlapping to each other in no particular order prominent on the blue landscape of the Adriatic sea. Some roofs are covered by moss, the others look as fresh as the new tiles. The noise of daily trading activities beneath the red-roofs is probably the sound of the modern world in this ancient scenery. It brings along the weary breath of the old town, not to fight the ancient invaders, but to carry millions of tourists’ footsteps in the present day.

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Here and there on the city wall, there are several cafes overlooking the sea, which are served as the resting and sightseeing places for visitors. Buza bar located on the cliff of the walls is a well-known spot to watch sunset. Far away is Lokrum Island, the marina and the beachfront restaurants, which were quite deserted on a beautiful day like that day.

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Enjoy gorgeous sunsets on the sea and on the mountain

With more than 250 sunny days each year, Dubrovnik is famous for its brilliant sunsets on the beautiful backdrop of the Adriatic blue shores. Sunset there is described as a large canvas with a vivid mixture of yellow, orange, red and pinky purple. I was fortunate to witness the sky painted its canvas in two completely different settings, bringing incredible feeling.

Sunset on the top of Mount Srđ

Mount Srđ with the height of 412m is considered as the best place offering the most beautiful panoramic view of Dubrovnik. Although it is easy to reach the summit by cable car in 4 minutes, we decided to hike 45 minutes to admire Dubrovnik at different heights and angles. 

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This trekking road is not for everyone as it is quite bumpy, rocky and winding with many bends. The constant steep slope made my thigh tense sometimes. The higher we hike, the smaller the old town becomes, looking like tiny Lego houses laying inside the majestic city walls and on the immense coastline. In the distance is the bustling harbor of ships, and two small islands – Lokrum and Elaphite.

While walking, I watched the sun gradually descend to the surface of the sea. I didn’t remember how many bends I had turned, just knowing that when I reached the summit, the sunset was so vivid that remove all my previous tiredness.

The sun was as bright as a egg yolk at the far end of the horizon, shining the last beams of golden light, then gently kissing the sea a goodbye, leaving an astonishingly beautiful aura.

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It got dark quickly, and the air gradually changed from hot to cold. The canvas is still brilliant until the city lighted up. When the sky was completely dark, we were trembling in the cold wind, lining up to the cable car to go down the mountain.

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Sunset on the kayar

Sunset on the sea in a kayak was a completely different experience as the sun seemed as close as touchable. Departing at the strait below the main gate of Pile at 4pm, we started paddling at the foot of the wall, then circled Lorkum Island, exploring some nearby caves.

The water was cool and the waves were not very large, so our boat glided quite smoothly. Along the coast, there are some extremely beautiful mansions of local authorities. Our kayak team stopped at a cave called Betina to freely swim and snorkeling.

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When the sun was about to set, we had to paddle back to the starting point. Let the kayak drift by itself, I reached out to catch the sparkling sunlight on the surface of the sea. Sunset has never been as close to me as such. I wish time had stopped so that this moment last forever. And I would stay on the kayak a little longer to see the golden glow after sunset, instead of being urged to return to the shore.

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Relax on “surreal” beautiful Mediterranean beaches

The Mediterranean Sea is known as the paradise of the seas because of its unique blue water. I remembered being astonished when I first saw that spectacular color on a Turkish beach, an unbelievable blue to describe in words, I couldn’t believe it was real even I saw it with my own eyes.

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Clear water in Banje Sea, Dubrovnik

It’s also the Mediterranean Sea, but the beaches in Dubrovnik are not as splendid and impressive as the first time. The water is also clear to see through the bottom, but the color is not up to that uniqueness.

Without fine sandy beach or year-round warm water of tropical regions, the Mediterranean Sea is often colder that shivers you in the first jump. Rough pebbles hurt your feet. So, the best way to enjoy the Mediterranean Sea is to relax on the beach, drink beer and watch the clear blue water.

Traveled on Sep, 2019

Travel information

Time to visit

Dubrovnik is a tourist city, so the best way to visit this place is to avoid the peak season, which is from Jun to Aug as it is the summer vacation of European countries. May or September is much better as the number of tourists decreases while the weather is great. In the remaining months of the year, it is either rainy or too cold to enjoy the Mediterranean sea.

Accommodation

It really depends on your budget and preferences as there are so many options in this tourist-crowded city. Because we only stayed in the old town, our team chose an apartment located right on the main street of Strandun, called Dreams Stradun Apartments, for a price of 465 Euro / 3 nights / 4 people. Despite the high price, this convenient location allows us to experience Dubrovnik day and night. Sometimes just opening the window, looking at the crowd below would make you feel like you are a resident.

Ways to go to Mount Srd

There are 3 ways to go to the top of Mount Srd to watch the sunset: taking the cable car, driving or hiking. Each way has its own special features.

  • Taking the cable car is the fastest, most convenient and most popular way for everyone, of course with a price of $25 for a return ticket, $13 for 1-way ticket.
  • If you have plenty of time, relatively in good shape, hiking to the top of the mountain is a great experience because you can admire the panoramic view of Dubrovnik at different heights and angles.
  • If you have a car, try your driving skills on the narrow and steep roads.

We decided to hike to the top and go down by cable car when it was dark. From the old town, we climbed on a series of stairs to reach the highway on the hillside. Passing the “Dubrvonik Welcome” sign, you come to Jadranska Cesta street, where the trail starts. Looking on the map, you can also see how winding the road is, so please consider carefully before going.

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