Dubrovnik, Croatia, A Fairyland City on the Dalmatian Coast

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It’s not surprising that the outside scenes for the HBO fantasy “Game of Thrones” are filmed here.

Located on the Dalmation Coast, east of Italy on the Adriatic Sea, the walled city of Dubrovnik juts out into the bright blue water like an unwieldy Ottoman fortress  with many rounded section and towers.

The interior—carless, by the way—is a maze of Medieval and Renaissance buildings and narrow marble streets.  On the circumference, steps lead up to alleys lined with restaurants, residences, museums, and shops.  Two  of the most popular tourist activities are walking on the pathway on the top of the outer walls, and taking the cable car up Mt. Srd—both of which provide panoramic views.

Like most of Croatia, Dubrovnik  is a vortex of cultures.  The first settlement began  with the arrival of the Greeks in the 4th century B.C.E., and was later transformed by the Romans  around 100 B.C.E.  By the 14th century it  rivaled Venice as a trading port.  The city was largely damaged by an earthquake in the 1660s, and invaded  by Napoleon in 1806.  Now fully recovered from the Balkan Wars of the early 1990s, it is a fairy tale place for tourists.

We entered from Ploce Gate, the eastern side of the historic center, where a porter from the Pucic Palace Hotel hoisted our suitcases up on a dolly  and walked us the several blocks to the entrance.

By using the Pucic Palace Hotel, once an Italian nobleman’s vacation retreat,  as our base we were able to get anywhere  in a few minute’s time.  We soon learned that passengers from cruise ships crowd the Stradun or main street during the day, but we could stroll on many quieter and equally fascinating side alleys with restaurants, museums, ancient  monasteries, and  important small churches.

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Looking down at the daily market from the 4th floor of the Pucic Palace Hotel

During our visit, we took the 10 minute ferry to Lokum Island, a nature preserve that is kind of an extension of the city, and is one of the many island trip possibilities.  Richard the Lionhearted may have been shipwrecked  here when he was returning from the Crusades, and now  its rocky paths, gardens, and forest provide locales for “Game of Thrones” scenes, and escape from the carnival like business of the mainland.

 

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