Dubrovnik: Cruise Ports of Call 3
Cruise Ports of Call 3: Dubrovnik
Doing Dubrovnik in a Day
The famously walled Dubrovnik is the proudest feather in Croatia’s tourist cap, an elite destination and one of the most beautiful towns in the Mediterranean. Dubrovnik used to be an independent republic, living mostly on trade. It managed to survive over the centuries, with constant threats to its territory, particularly from the mighty Ottoman Empire and Venice. It suffered substantial damage in 1991 as a result of heavy artillery bombardment during the Croatian War of Independence. Damage to the Old Town of Dubrovnik was observed by a UNESCO team which stayed in the city from 27 November until 20 December 1991. They estimated that 55.9% of buildings were damaged, including 11.1% heavily damaged and 1% burned down. Seven burned Baroque palaces were the greatest losses. Additional damage was caused by troops looting museums, businesses and private homes. Some two decades later the casual cruise tourist would never know – almost all of the damage has been repaired, but if you look closely around the old town, mortar damage in the cobblestone streets and bullet marks in the stone houses are visible. George Bernard Shaw once said that “those who seek paradise on Earth should come to Dubrovnik and find it”. Royalty, presidents and diplomats have all favoured the city, together with a host of A-Listers over the centuries including Richard the Lionheart, Wallis Simpson, Prince Edward, Elisabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Michael Douglas, Catharine Zeta Jones, Goldie Hawn, Kurt Russell, Richard Gere, Nick Nolt, Tom Cruise and Kevin Spacey.
Getting into Town Cruise ships typically dock at the Port of Dubrovnik across from the main bus station, 2.5 km northwest of the walled old town. The easiest and cheapest way to get from the main bus station to the Old Town is by using the local buses number 1, 1A and 1B, which circulate almost constantly. Some cruise ships anchor offshore just east of the Old Town and tender the passengers directly into the the Old Port. In 2012. over 1.000.000 passengers visited Dubrovnik by cruise ship. Other options are taxi, which are readily available, especially when returning from the Old Town, or, as a last resort, by cruise ship shuttle bus, which tends to offer poor value for money
What to do in a day in Dubrovnik
The City walls Dubrovnik as a destination is defined by its 2km long City Walls surrounding the town. Walking the walls, one of the best preserved fortification complexes in Europe, is the major attraction for visitors The three entrances to the walls are next to St Lukes Church in the east, next to St Saviours Church at the Pile entrance to the Old City and next to the Maritime Museum located at St Johns Fort. In parts, walking the walls, while spectacular, can be a bit of a test for the physically challenged, but there is still plenty to fascinate the one day cruise visitor at ground level
Old Town Pile Gate, at the western end of the Placa Thoroughfare is a convenient starting place for your stroll through the Old Town. Before entering the Old Town, Fort Lovrjenac, the first among many sites worth seeing in Dubrovnik, provides a good view of the Old Town and its wall. Just outside Pile Gate, is Pile Square is where most of the walking tours begin, by the fountain near Dubravka bar restaurant. To be safe, It’s best to book these in advance.
Big Onofrio´s Fountain. In the western (Pile) entrance of the old town, The fountain stairs are nowadays a favourite meeting place for local youth and where both the tourists and pigeons take rest and refresh themselves with cool water. The water from here is regarded as drinking water but do check
Placa Stradun, The Stradun (Placa) is the central street of the city of Dubrovnik and is the place where the old city comes to life. Explore the shade of the perpendicular streets and alleys, some rising steeply, on its sides. The uniform Baroque architecture of the houses with shops on the street level and their ‘knee-like’ entrances, got its present-day form in the restoration of the City which took place after the disastrous earthquake in 1667, when a large number of luxurious Gothic and Renaissance palaces were destroyed Lovrjenac Fort is situated to the west of the Old City on a 37 metre-high rock. The symbol of Dubrovnik’s survival and freedom, the fort was used for the defence of the city and the western Pile gate. Above the entrance to the fort is the famed inscription: NON BENE PRO TOTO LIBERTAS VENDITUR AURO (Freedom is not sold for all gold in the world). The first official records mention the fort in 1301, although it is believed that its construction began earlier
Bell Tower, (after the Ploče entrance to the city). On top of the tower are the famous ‘Zelenci’ (The Green Ones), bronze statues which strike the gigantic bell every hour.
Sponza Palace, (West of the Bell Tower). Gothic Renaissance palace, one of the few buildings that survived the catastrophic 1667 earthquake intact.
Rector’s Palace, Pred dvorom 1, ☎ +385 20 321 437. Formerly the palace of the Major Council, now houses a museum dedicated to the city’s history.
Synagogue and Jewish Museum, Zudioska 5, ☎ +385 20 321 028. This originally Sephardic Synagogue is supposed to be the second oldest synagogue still in use in Europe today. A permanent Jewish community here was founded at the end of the 15th century following the exodus from Portugal and Spain. The community flourished and included respected doctors, merchants and state representatives. The Synagogue is tiny and delightful, with heavy velvet drapes and a richly painted, midnight blue ceiling. The museum contains valuable artifacts, alongside information on the history of the Jewish community in Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik Cable Car, Petra Krešimira 4. bb, 20000 Dubrovnik Directions to the Cable Car are difficult to find in the Old City. On the northern side of the city Buža Street leads you towards the exit from the city walls. From there you keep climbing towards the fire station. Once you are at the fire station, you need to cross the street on your right hand side and keep going straight. After a few moments you will see the cable car station on your right hand side. The view of the Old City will rival that found on any postcard. There is a small shop at the top and restaurant with outside terraces, and the most fabulous of views. Going Further Afield Your cruise line will of course run their own range of excursions beyond the Old City, examples are: Dalmatian Coastline & Wine Tasting Island of Korcula: Birthplace of Marco Polo Jeep safari through the Konavle Valley Seaside Resort Of Cavtat The cruise lines’ offerings will range from the comprehensive, well planned and value for money through to uninspiring, expensive rip-offs. They always tell you that one of the major benefits of taking one of their excursions is that if you are on one of these the ship won’t leave without you, whereas if you do your own thing you run the risk if something goes wrong of missing the ship, which will sail without you. This is true, but with a bit of planning the do it yourself option is well worth considering as long as you plan to arrive back on the ship say 90 minutes before departure to allow for any unforeseen contingencies. The forums at www.cruisecritic.com are strongly recommended for finding other people to make up small groups for excursions. There will almost certainly be a “roll call” forum specifically for your particular cruise. Or look for recommendations in other forums. Failing that www.viator.com has a good selection of cruise excursions and their 2 hour walking tour of the old city at £14/$20 is recommended as great value for money and delivered by highly knowledgeable local guides with an excellent command of English.