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    Croatia | Dubrovnik – Walk the Wall

    Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast is an extraordinarily beautiful part of the world which is easily accessed by road, but even better by sea. To truly appreciate Croatia’s coastline at its best jump on board a charter yacht or small cruise boat and island hop.

    When electing to travel by boat, the starting point is usually Dubrovnik or Split. We chose Dubrovnik, one of the world’s best-preserved medieval cities and a UNESCO World Heritage site.

    Allocate a couple of days to explore Dubrovnik before you set sail or you may miss one of its best attractions, walking Old Town’s 13th century wall . For some, the wall walk may be overlooked because an afternoon or morning has been allocated to wander around Old Town’s cobbled lanes, Baroque churches, Renaissance palaces, monasteries and fountains before boarding your boat. There’s plenty to see and do in Old Town and it’s easy to run out of time. Irrespective of what you’re keen to see and do, you must put the wall at the top of your list; even the not-so-fit will discover the historic walk is doable. Just take it slowly and stop at regular intervals to appreciate the shimmering Adriatic sea and get a bird’s eye view of the town below with its hidden courtyards and gardens.

    During the walk you’ll come across places to sit, take a breather, and buy something to eat and drink. Take advantage of these breaks to simply enjoy the beauty that surrounds you. And, if possible, do the walk first thing in the morning before the cruise ships bring their hordes, or leave it until an hour or so before closing time when it is cooler and not so crowded. Depending on the time of year, the wall’s open hours change and can very from 8am to 9am while closing can be anywhere between 6pm and 7.30pm.

    Wall walk entry: There are two main entrances. The first is through Pile Gate (pictured above). The second is by Saint John’s Fortress, near Ploče Gate, at the opposite end of Old Town; this is your best exit point if you are unable to make the full 2km distance. There also is a third entrance via Lucas Fortress (St Dominic’s Street). My recommendation is start your walk after entering Old Town via the imposing Pile Gate. Once through this outer gate, you’ll see stairs and a ramp leading to the inner gate.

    You will pass through a Gothic arch and arrive at Onofrio’s Great Fountain (also known as Onofrio’s Large Fountain, image above). Straight ahead you will see the main pedestrian promenade known as Stradun (the main road; officially known as Placa) . To the left of the fountain is a flight of stairs (image below) which takes you to the top of the wall and the beginning of your circular wall walk. Expect to take about 1.5 to 2 hours. Tip: Onofrio’s Great Fountain is the ideal spot to refill your water bottle before starting your walk.

    Tickets: 35 euro for adult. 15 euro per child aged 7 to 18 years. Free for children aged 0 to 7 years old. The ticket also entitles you to free access to the fort of St Lawrence and is valid for 72 hours from the time of purchase. Tickets can be bought on-site from the ticket office which is located to the right, the moment you enter Stradun through Pile Gate. If you’re in Dubrovnik for a few days the Dubrovnik PASS is great value as it covers entry to a variety of museums, galleries and studios as well as the walk wall. http://www.dubrovnikpass.com Remember when purchasing your tickets in advance you may incur a booking fee and your email with your voucher may not arrive immediately. It may take 48 hours. You will have to exchange your voucher for the entrance ticket at the City Wall’s Dubrovnik office, at the beginning of ‘Siroka ulica’ street. Look for the second door at the right hand side when entering the street from Stradun.

    As you make your way around the wall you will come across pop-up shops as well as caffe-bars where you can buy something to drink, to eat and have a spell. These bars are a welcome respite on a hot, sunny day. There are four public toilets: two are in Pile, one in Ploče (usually open 7am to 11pm) and one is at the fish market (Peskarija).

    Fast facts: The seaport city dates back to 7th century when it was known as Ragusa, founded by refugees from Epidaurum (now known as Cavtat, Croatia) and protected by the Byzantine Empire. Between the 14th and 17th centuries Dubrovnik ruled as a free state. The city survived a devastating earthquake in 1667, was occupied by the French Empire forces during the Napoleonic Wars and became part of the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy. In the 19th and early 20th centuries Dubrovnik was part of the Austrian Empire. After several changes of rulers fast forward to 1991, during Croatian War of Independence, Dubrovnik was besieged by the Yugoslav People’s Army and suffered significant damage from shelling. In the 1990s and early 2000s, the city underwent significant repair and restoration works however you can still see scars from the shelling in the medieval city’s walls. Today Dubrovnik has re-emerged as one of the Mediterranean’s top tourist destinations.

    Last word: The filming location for Game of Thrones TV series and Star Wars firmly placed the city on the international radar. Dubrovnik may be more expensive than many other Croatian destinations, yet it continues to attract over one million tourists a year. It is still, hands down, the best launching pad for your island hopping adventure and deserves your attention for at least a couple of days.

    Vicki Montague is a freelance writer with a predilection for travel, European fashion, architecture that oozes history and charm, and objects that tell a story. She and her partner John are empty nesters - their three adult children have left the comforts of home to carve out their own paths in life. Vicki’s professional background is in marketing and public relations.

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