Dubrovnik is an amazing place to visit, the sun shinning of the characteristic terracotta roof tops, the sense of history as you stroll thorough ancient old town and the glistening blue of the Adriatic. In this unforgettable and historic city there really is only one way to truly take in the scale and majesty of it. To walk the impressive city walls! If there is one things not to miss here, it is these!
Here’s the honest part, we actually considered missing these out!! Shoot us now! The reason being that they are quite expensive and we figured, well how good can some city walls really be?! Well how wrong we were! But we also managed to use Shorty’s student card twice and get them at a fraction of the price, so that helped too!
Some history on the city walls
The city of Dubrovnik has not always been part of Croatia, hundreds of years ago it was a country in its own right with enemies and rivals all over the surrounding region. Those in Istanbul and Venice being the most feared and having the most intense competition. On this rocky island that the city was founded there have been fortifications of one form or another dating back to the 8th century when they would have most likely been wooden.
Over the years a larger and more elaborate fortification was build to protect the city, those that we see today were constructed mainly between the 12th and 17th centuries and are considered to be one of the great fortification systems of the middle ages. These walls were never breached by hostiles during this time and part of that reason is there intelligent design and sheer height.
The walls feature a double line that spans the entire old town of the city. The section closest to the sea is a much narrower so that if captured it would be easy for the local forces to destroy from the inside their invaders position and they would struggle to launch an attack on the city from such narrow walls. The entire course around the city runs for 6.360ft and at some points is up to 82ft in height!
The city walls are a huge source of pride for the locals of Dubrovnik as they protected the freedom of those living inside of them. For hundred of years the gates had been open, day and night, to a peaceful Dubrovnik. But during the siege of the city they were once again closed and the walls used to protect the city. What is one of the largest and most complete city walls in Europe is a complex structure which includes 3 circular and 14 quadrangular towers, 5 bastions and several other fortresses! We could not wait to explore!
Walking the walls
There are a few entrances to the walls but you must walk around in an Anti-clock wise fashion as some areas are rather tight. These means that if you begin by the main city gate you will only find yourself at the main fortress towards the end of your visit, so plan carefully if the weather is due to turn or you only have a short amount of time.
We decided to head up via that main entrance and see the south side of the walls, which face out towards the sea, first. I think in reflection this is the best way to do it, the views here are amazing but those on the north really are a highlight, this way you get to build up to the best sections rather than seeing them first and the rest not feeling as impressive!
As soon as we began our accent of the steep steps towards the walls I could see why everyone flocked up here…and why it would have been worth paying full price had we had to. The famous terrocotta roofs now revealed themselves across the whole of the city and you could get a clear view down the beautiful main street of Dubrovnik.
Looking out over the other side we were greeted by the Adriatic, one of the most stunning seas in the world. The sun was beating down as we explored the walls and the colour just magnificent. The dramatic cliffs on which these walls are built are also a quite breath taking site. To see the powerful waves splashing up against the jagged rocks and pock marked centuries old walls is to be taken back in time to when these fortifications were essential to the survival of the city. And in a strange way they still are, apparently the economy here is pretty much solely based on tourism.
Up here there is so much to see and in all directions. The walls often can feel a little intrusive and yet at the same time I am always intrigued when it comes to the real lives of the people in the cities we visit. From here you could literally peer into peoples gardens and some houses even join on to parts of the wall. There was a guy who had a section of it as a sun deck and was selling a few homemade wares from his kitchen door!
After the wall takes a short detour and up some rather steep steps you enter the northern section. Here the walls are much thicker, they considered the threat from the land to be more than that from the sea, and much taller. This is also where the vast majority of the fortresses and bastions sit, each one towering over the already high walls and offering unparalleled views over this beautiful city.
It is from this angle here that you can really appreciate the city in all its glory, the lines and lines of orange rooftops and the contrasting blue sea in the background is beyond words. The white spires of the churches that made this city so appealing for the Game of Thrones poke out in the sea of orange to create a picture perfect scene. I could have stood here for days, taking in the vista and yet noticing the details such as the tiny basketball courts built into the walls and the differences between the buildings damaged in the war and those ones what passed through unscathed.
When in Dubrovnik there is no question that visiting the walls in a must do, this is without a doubt the most amazing way to see what is a spectacular old city. The pearl of the Adriatic truly is a priceless gem.
How to visit
The city walls have 3 main entrances and a few places dotted around where you can buy tickets. The best way is to head to the main one right by the Pile gate and buy your ticket on the door.
The walls take a couple of hours to walk around as there is so much to see, I would recommend getting there early to avoid the crowds and the midday heat. But it is also a wonderful place to watch the sunset too.
Opening times are as such: