For such a small city, Dubrovnik offers quite a bit to see and do. We barely could cover it in our three days there. Unfortunately we never did get to explore the hills above Dubrovnik, Island Lokrum, or the outside city of Dubrovnik. We did make it to the main attractions, which you can’t miss on a visit to Dubrovnik. These include:
1. Rector’s Palace:
Right off Luza Square is the Rector’s Palace. It was the seat of the Ragusan government, where the Rector lived and worked. The first prince (Rector) ruled the Republic from here. After Napoleon’s army dissolved the Dubrovnik Republic the Rector’s position was reduced. In fact a new Rector was selected each month.
The original palace was modeled after the Roman imperial palace, with some influences from Venetian palaces. In 1435 there was a gunpowder explosion that demolished the structure. It was rebuilt in a late-gothic style. There was another explosion in 1463, and a an earthquake in 1667 that severally damaged the city. What you see now is the final redo that took place at the end of the 17 century.
The central portico features beautiful archways and a second story mezzanine. The rooms are interesting, and not so extensive you feel obligated to spend tons of time wandering through. For me, the highlight was the portico with the open ceiling and archways.
2. Pile Gate:
This is the north gate into the city. It features a stone bridge with two gothic arches. If you exit towards the outside you can get to Tower Loverjenac, something we did not do. On entering, the outer draw bridge is met by an internal bridge that leads into the city. If the light is right, some good shots are to be had from Pile Gate. My suggestion is to walk down the path to the left as you exit out of the town. at the end you’ll be at the bay I mentioned from the wall tour. There is a great view of the enormous Tower Loverjenac and Tower Bokar with the Adriatic in the background.
3. Big Onofrio’s Fountain:
You’ll see this round structure near the pile gate. It’s close to the entrance to the wall tour. It’s a 16-sided water fountain and is considered a masterpiece of engineering for the early 1400’s. This is not only for the design, but for the design of the irrigation flow. The water that serves it is 20 kilometers away.
4. Church of St. Blaise & the Cathedral:
While the Church of St. Blaise is worth seeing, mostly because of the religious artifacts in a small room behind the alter, I liked the Cathedral much more. At night the lighting is dramatic and great for night shots. The courtyard in front of it was not that busy when I was shooting, so I was able to take a long exposure without people walking through.
5. Franciscan Monastery:
The Franciscan Monastery is a must see for fans of great architecture as this courtyard and surrounding buildings are considered a masterwork of Dubrovnik architecture. The Roman-Gothic styling features an outside courtyard with the second oldest pharmacy in Europe, and it’s still a pharmacy today. Inside the library features 30,000 volumes of books and 1500 hand written documents. The garden area is extraordinary.
6. Troubadour Jazz Cafe:
One night after dinner, we were walking through the main square where outdoor cafes were busy with customers. We ended up at the Troubadour Jazz Cafe, where they played some great American style jazz. It was quite a treat listening to our home music under the stars with a cold Karlovacko beer in hand in Durbrovnik.
7. Cafe Buza:
This is the THE find in Dubrovnik, and not all that well known. On an ally way in the along the main western wall you’ll find a non-descript small door. Enter it to find the coolest bar you might ever have a beer in. The cafe is built on the side of the rocky cliffs and into the Dubrovnik wall. At the water level is a small beach if you’re in the mood for a swim. We sat at sunset and took in the view and the dramatic scene of the wall rising above our heads. It was truly spectacular and is still a personal highlight of the trip for all of us who went.
There are plenty of other famous Dubrovnik icons that you’ll run into during your stay. Thinks like the bell tower, the Jesuit Church, Orladno’s Column, and Fortress Revelin you’ll find just roaming around. Palace Sponza is worth seeing as well, though we did not spend much time there.