Looking at a perfect postcard, Dubrovnik, Croatia

When I turned and Dubrovnik came into my field of vision, it was like looking at a perfect postcard; I put down my camera and gazed at the medieval city, totally captivated. It was time for me to get closer. As I walked downhill, the ring fortress and the small port grew bigger and bigger; my slow approach to the city was for me a way to feel deeper and deeper the charm of that place. 

I finally entered through the central gate, which, to be exact, was not one but two or maybe three, with thick, completely restored walls and, quite unexpectedly, I saw the central square before me. I remained speechless! Not just because it was flooded by thousands of tourists. A very lively, open market had been set around a pole marking the centre of it; behind benches, under red umbrellas, people dressed in traditional costumes, were selling local products such as jams, pasta, wine, even sponges and embroidery, just like at a fancy fair.

Three more giant cruise ships had arrived. The passengers of all these vessels, along with us and some people from inland, had flooded the historic centre which, miraculously, despite the crowds, maintained the beauty of its baroque architecture. I tried to focus on the details of the majestic palace decorations which reminded me a lot of Valletta, in Malta, and Syracuse in Sicily. Not surprising, since Italian artists from these cities -authentic pieces of the Mediterranean, after all- had been summoned by local lords to assist their creation.

I was so enchanted, I believe I walked every single little street, not stopping even for a cup of coffee, for my “thirsty” eyes kept asking for more. Only for a little while, upon arriving at the picturesque port full of fishing boats, tenders and yachts, did I stop, resting my back on the stone walls, listening curiously to two Croats sailors talk. The language was rhythmic and sort of brisk.

As a final note, the last thing that touched me deeply was the 15th century Dominican monastery at the end of the pedestrian walkway, which crossed the city. The inner court, in its pure beauty and quiet, gave me a scent of Italian monasteries, which I absolutely adore.

Is there love of the past in Dubrovnik? Of course! That is why Dubrovnik was quickly reconstructed despite the fact that more than half of it had been bombed. From the ashes of war, beauty had emerged. And it certainly was not just the natural beauty of the area, but also the heart of its people that envisioned its future and succeeded in turning it into one of the most wonderful resorts of the Mediterranean.

 Αn excerpt of the book: Cruising on the Ocean Majesty

A panoramic view of Dubrovnik, Croatia

A panoramic view of Dubrovnik, Croatia

Barbara Athanassiadis