Dubrovnik is a sea of terracotta rooftops
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Travellers Reviews

'Dubrovnik is a sea of terracotta rooftops'

Seasoned world travellers boast of vacations in Rome, Paris, New York City, and Hong Kong, grand and glorious cities every one. Recently, on a Mediterranean cruise that included many of the popular and eagerly sought-after European destinations for tourists, I found myself disembarking the cruise ship in what seemed like an unlikely locale Dubrovnik, Croatia.

I had few expectations for a stop that rounded out the much more highly publicized venues of Barcelona, Florence, Venice and Rome. What was there to see in a small country tucked tightly into the elbow of the Mediterranean Sea? As recently as the early 1990's, Dubrovnik was at the centre of political unrest with attacks from the Yugoslav People's Army. What had I gotten myself into? One of the valuable lessons of travelling is that it opens your eyes to the world as you never knew it. And so it was with Dubrovnik. Entrance into this walled city was breath-taking as I stepped out of the 21st Century and walked among the solidly built, architecturally astounding structures of centuries gone by. War, while taking its toll, had managed to leave intact towers, fountains, and churches of remarkable beauty and strength.

The Church of St. Blaise, patron saint of Dubrovnik, is a popular draw for every tourist in the city. This 18th century church holds treasures and artefacts depicting the history of the region and the artistic excellence of its inhabitants. St. Blaise is celebrated with a festival that begins February 3rd of each year and continues on, with feasting, mass and festivities, for several days. The rest of the year the church is open to the public to view and appreciate historic relics.

Onofrio's Fountain, while not able to boast the sculptural intricacies of the Trevi Fountain in Rome, is a central attraction in the centre of the city and is not to be missed.

Even the monetary system of Croatia is not in keeping with European unity. The Euro is not the currency of the day here; instead I purchased my home-made gelato with the Kunas I received in exchange for my Euros. The few lipas I received in change for my purchase became souvenirs to bring back home for friends whose children delight in collecting foreign coinage. The past and the present exist side by side in Dubrovnik, The University of Dubrovnik and a thriving international airport coexist with the Sponza Palace, a 16th century castle that is home to the national archives and the church of St. Ignatius, another monument to the faith and the history that defines Dubrovnik.

A trip to Dubrovnik is not complete without a trek up the steep stone steps (not a journey for the easily winded) to the top of the wall. From this vantage point, Dubrovnik is a sea of terra-cotta rooftops. The Mediterranean Sea below is at its bluest, with glints of sunlight on the water to accent every picturesque photograph.

The mile long hike along the wall gives the energetic tourist every conceivable view of the city. It is from here that most of the magnificent photographs of the city are captured.

Much to my delight and surprise as I recount my Mediterranean adventures, Dubrovnik has come out of the shadows and is a highlight on a trip that boasts many outstanding sights and experiences.

by Leann Zotis

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