The historic heart of the city and the main tourist hub, the Old Town of Dubrovnik is one of Croatia’s liveliest and most cosmopolitan centers. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and described by George Bernard Shaw as the ‘the pearl of the Adriatic’, the Old Town is a warren of glistening limestone pavements and beautifully restored medieval architecture, encircled by ancient fortification walls. Despite suffering substantial damage from the earthquake of 1667, the city has managed to restore many of its historic churches, palaces and buildings, marrying them with the surge of modern cafés, restaurants and designer boutiques.
A walking tour of Dubrovnik is best undertaken within the pedestrianized streets of the walled town and there are a myriad of historic sights to uncover. Stroll the main street of the Stradun home to many of the Old Town’s most prominent landmarks, including the stunning 16th-century Sponza Palace, and pay a visit to the spectacular Franciscan Monastery and Museum, famous for beautifully preserved 14th-century Venetian Gothic south door and home to the oldest working pharmacy in the world.
The city’s star attractions are its remarkable buildings and highlights include the reconstructed gothic-renaissance Rector’s Palace, housing a museum of medieval artefacts; the 18th-century baroque Cathedral of the Assumption; and the grand Bell Tower, rebuilt in the early 20th century and remaining one of the city’s principal landmarks. The 15th and 16th century City Walls are also a striking attraction in themselves and walking atop the walls is a popular pastime among visitors, affording great views from a number of lookout points, and passing over the dramatic bridged Pile Gate and the Fortress of St John.