Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Ragusan Republic

Bella Relaxing in Dubrovnik's architecture
We ended our days in the Former Yugoslavia in the city of Dubrovnik, the former capital of an independent country called "The Republic of Ragusa".  This country consisted of the portion of Dalmatia south of the Bosnian access to the sea.  In it's day, it was a major maritime power, challenging the Venetians for commercial control of the Adriatic.
Today, the walled city of Dubrovnik is a World Heritage site and a fantastically beautiful place.  We had already drove up and down the Adriatic coast and seen the fantastical walled cites of Zadar, Trogrir, Split, Mostar, Kotor, and Ston, and it was certainly the most impressive of the lot.
The history of the city is fascinating - how the Ragusans (whose ruling class spoke a Latin language called "Dalmatian") played off the Ottomans against the Venetians in order to remain independent and only lost that independence to Napoleon's army.
The one unforgivable thing about Dubrovnik is the hordes of cruise ship passengers that descend upon the city daily.  Our first day here, there were 5 mega-ships in port with well over 100,000 tourists dumped into the 1 square mile of city walls.  This was repeated each day and it really, really, sucked.  I would put it up there with Yosemite for crowd induced hell.
That said, it was fantastically gorgeous, romantic (even with kids along!) and friendly.  For anyone going - the cruise ship passengers all need to depart at 16:00 for their boats - so plan accordingly.
Highlights of the city?
The Walls.  Walk the walls.  Wait until 19:00 to do so and you will be rewarded by both the absence of crowds and lack of daytime heat.
Fort Imperial.  Take the cablecar up Srđ for the best views in Yugoslavia.
Swimming at the city walls.  My kids expressed this best - and it is totally awesome to swim in the shadow of this Medieval fortress.

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