Due to the port being shallow, the ship had to dock at the beginning of the bay and we had to ride a water taxi to the city dock. It took about 20 minutes. We met our guide and boarded a bus for Dubrovnik. (If you were not on a tour, then it cost $15.00 to go into town) On the way, he gave us some history on Croatia.
Yugoslavia was created in 1918 at the end of World War I. They didn’t want to be under Austrian rule, so Croatia, Slavonia, Serbia, Bosnia, Macedonia, and Montenegro came together and formed Yugoslavia, figuring there was strength in numbers. The main industry was industrial production. Yugo means small. From 1945 – 1991 they became a Socialist Republic like Communist Russia but not as strict. In 1992, the 5 countries became independent and Croatia joined the EU on July 1, 2013. Today the economy is entirely dependent on tourism. Unemployment is 20% from Dec-March due to a slow tourist season. The country is 86% Catholic. They have mild winters with lots of rain and wind. The summers are hot and long 35-40 C(95-104 F). Croatia has 1244 islands of which 66 are inhabited. It is a very progressive country, when it comes to energy…25 hydroelectric stations, 1 wind park, 7 hydro-therm units, and 1 nuclear plant. Funny government fact…there are no government decisions made when it is rainy or cold as it is too depressing.
Dubrovnik has become very popular as some scenes from Game of Thrones were filmed here, as well as a Star Wars movie. The city is so crowded with tourist that the buses dropped us off and were parked 3 deep. The city even has a bus drop-off coordinator.
Dubrovnik is surrounded by a city wall that is 2 km long (1.25 miles). It was built from the 10th – 17th century. Venice was their biggest enemy so the walls were to protect from attack. Fort Lovrijenac also dubbed Dubrovnik’s Gibraltar, has thicker walls facing the water and thinner walls facing the city. This is so if it were to be occupied by an enemy it could be bombed from the city. New residents were Quarantined for 40 days (Quarantine means 40)
The Pile Gate is the main entrance through the city wall.
The city was extremely crowded…and the rain didn’t help due to the umbrellas. The city has one wide street. It was to bring the grain to the granary, which was built to have a constant temperature of 17 C.
The city was independent from the 14th – 19th century, with salt production being the largest industry. During the 14th and 15th centuries, a pharmacy, aqua duct, and a orpahange were established. The Orphanage had a child box. You placed the child in the box, closed it, and rang the bell.
There is a small gargoyle hanging on a wall. Legend has it that you climb on the gargoyle. take off your shirt, put it back on, all without falling off or touching the ground, you will have a great love life.
You can walk on top of the city wall. You have to pay in Croatian Kuna. There was a huge line to exchange to Kuna and another huge line to pay. So we walked up the inside stairs. There are many shops and residencies.
An earthquake in 1667 destroyed part of the Old Town and another part was destroyed by a gun powder explosion and resulting fire. After the earthquake, the present day Church of the Assumption or Dubrovnik Cathedral was built in a Baroque style.
There is a Franciscan monastry…home to a medieval pharmacy.
Right next to the monastery is the Square of the Loggia which has been a central gathering place for centuries. There is a St. Blaise statue. He revealed that the Venetians did not come as friends but to spy for a future attack on the city. It sits in front of the Church of St. Blaise.
Rector’s Palace…the rector was elected to 1 month stints, so as to not become power-hungry. Every night the city gates were locked and he was the keeper of the keys for the night. This building is also where Game of Thrones was filmed.
In the war for independence in 1991, 60% of the city was destroyed. In 1992, many of the native families who had fled, returned. You could still see the bullet marks on the walls.
We walked outside the city wall to the small semi-enclosed harbor.
We were supposed to ride the gondola to a hill over-looking the city, but it does not operate in the rain, we guessed it was following the lead of the government. So our tour guide, drove us up the hill on Croatia “Hwy 101” for some fantastic views of the city.
There is an island south of Dubrovnik. It is said to be cursed. If you fall asleep on the island, you will meet an untimely death. It is patrolled to make sure no one spend the night.
The tour guide convinced the driver to take us to the Franjo Tudman Bridge. It opened in 2002. It is 1699 feet in length and 161 feet to the water below. It was originally to have been built in the early 1990s but war stopped the construction. It is a cable bridge.
Since we were on a tour, we were dropped off on our ship’s dock and did not have to take the water taxi. Back on board we watched the movie the Intern and an interesting show in the theater called Elements. It was strange and awesome at the same time. Two more nights on the ship and then we disembark in Venice. We have been gone along time, so not sure whether we are sad it is ending or excited to get home….nah sad it is ending.