Walking the walls of Dubrovnik


The St Lawrence Fortress sits just outside the walls, and is often called Dubrovnik's Gibraltar.

The St Lawrence Fortress sits just outside the walls, and is often called Dubrovnik’s Gibraltar.

Our trip to Croatia over the Christmas holidays was incredibly special – it’s definitely in the top 3 of my “list of favourite places”. (So far the others are Japan and Istanbul.) Walking along the city walls was without a doubt the highlight of the trip, which is why I’m going to post these pictures from our jaunt around the town. First of all, it’s not a short jaunt. We’ve walked the city walls in places like York and Winchester, so we thought we knew what to expect. Even in Istanbul, the short sections that you can actually access are not very extensive. But we weren’t prepared for Dubrovnik. There are only 2 or 3 access points, and once you are ON the wall, you can’t get OFF.

Wikipedia says that the wall runs for 1,940 metres, but I could easily believe it was double that, simply for the amount of stairs! Dubrovnik is perched on the side of a mountain, and the amount of ups and downs makes for a strenuous “jaunt!”

But it was gorgeous. Absolutely, stunningly, jaw-droppingly perfect.

  1. Take water. In the summer months there is one café, approximately halfway around, that sells snacks and drinks, but in the winter you are on your own. And because the sun can be quite bright (even in December), you’ll be thirsty before you get to the first tower.
  2. But not too much water. There is only one set of toilets on the wall – about halfway around (conveniently near the café), and they charge for admittance. So don’t drink too much, or you’ll find yourself hurrying around the last bits just to get down again!
  3. Wear comfy shoes. I already mentioned the steps, but I re-iterate. There are a lot of steps. We probably went up and down the equivalent of 8-10 storeys on well-worn stone steps, some with handrails, but some without.
  4. Ask if you can leave at the halfway point and come back. The signage is very confusing, particularly during the off-season. It seemed to use that once you enter the walls, you have to complete the full circuit before you can leave, and your ticket is only good for one entry. However, I’ve found reference in various guidebooks that you can leave the wall and come back later – although there are only 2 or 3 places you can do this, it would have been nice to break the day.
  5. Don’t stop too often. In the beginning we stopped every 20 feet to take pictures because it’s JUST SO BEAUTIFUL, before realising that we would be on the wall for days if we didn’t pick up the pace. Don’t worry – it just gets better and better – you won’t miss anything.
  6. Don’t forget that people live next to the walls. It was fairly empty during our circumnavigation, but I can only imagine that in the summer months it’s crawling with tourists. And there were people hanging out on their balconies, doing laundry, washing the dog … all the regular activities of life, mere metres from where we were being obnoxiously touristy.

So, all that being said, here are some of our snaps. Enjoy!

One of the many fortifications built into the walls - this one is on the landward side.

One of the many fortifications built into the walls – this one is on the landward side.

This is Fort Bokar, on the west side of the city, which is a key defensive point for the Pile Gate (our hotel was just outside this gate, so we passed through it every day).

This is Fort Bokar, on the west side of the city, which is a key defensive point for the Pile Gate (our hotel was just outside this gate, so we passed through it every day).

We thought it would be a quick, 20 minute brisk walk. It took us a good 3-4 hours!

We thought it would be a quick, 20 minute brisk walk. It took us a good 3-4 hours!

Looking east along the wall, you can see how high it is above the tops of the buildings. It rises 85 metres in some places!

Looking east along the wall, you can see how high it is above the tops of the buildings. It rises 85 metres in some places!

A little guard tower, overlooking the water.

A little guard tower, overlooking the water.

I would not make a very good guard in the little guard tower....

I would not make a very good guard in the little guard tower….

Heading east along the water side - in the distance is the island Lokrum (where Richard III was shipwrecked on his way back from the Holy Land.)

Heading east along the water side – in the distance is the island Lokrum (where Richard III was shipwrecked on his way back from the Holy Land.)

Here you can see the wall and our walkway running along the right-edge of the photo. To the left is a school, with an artifical field for sports! There is hardly any green space within the city walls.

Here you can see the wall and our walkway running along the right-edge of the photo. To the left is a school, with an artifical field for sports! There is hardly any green space within the city walls.

I loved this falling archway! Don't worry - we didn't have to walk over it. This is a bit of the walls that were badly damaged during the Siege of Dubrovnik (1991-1992).

I loved this falling archway! Don’t worry – we didn’t have to walk over it. This is a bit of the walls that were badly damaged during the Siege of Dubrovnik (1991-1992).

Red tile roofs ... blue Adriatic...

Red tile roofs … blue Adriatic…

The old harbor, which sits just inside the eastern edge of the city. Later I'll post some picture from a boat tour we took from here.

The old harbor, which sits just inside the eastern edge of the city. Later I’ll post some picture from a boat tour we took from here.

Looking down from the wall into a typical Dubrovnik "street". No cars allowed, of course, and lots of stairs and narrow passageways.

Looking down from the wall into a typical Dubrovnik “street”. No cars allowed, of course, and lots of stairs and narrow passageways.

Laundry day.

Laundry day.

I think I could retire here.

I think I could retire here.

This is the part of old town Dubrovnik most damaged (and not yet repaired) by the siege in 1991-1992.

This is the part of old town Dubrovnik most damaged (and not yet repaired) by the siege in 1991-1992.

One set of stairways up to the wall - they've almost all been closed off now, so you can only enter and exit via the approved routes.

One set of stairways up to the wall – they’ve almost all been closed off now, so you can only enter and exit via the approved routes.

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Posted on 26/02/2014, in Castles & Cathedrals, travel, Travel to Europe and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Dubrovniklady

    Congratulations, you made the entire circuit for a grand total of 1,080 steps. It normally takes me only 2 hours for the entire trip, but then I do not stop for photos.

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