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Dubrovnik, Croatia - A City of Royalty
by Roy Witman © 2008

The Pearl of the Adriatic, Dubrovnik, Croatia, is often frequented by royalty and is virtually unchanged since its 13th-century completion. Situated on the coast of the Adriatic Sea, this city has had a dramatic and cluttered past. Being tossed from one regime to another, Dubrovnik (formerly called Ragusa) was finally freed after 14 centuries of upheaval.

As part of their military strategy, Dubrovnik constructed a wall to encompass the city. Surviving years of threats and attacks, the wall is still standing today and is highly visible to those approaching the city via cruise ship.

The Wall

According to Princess Cruises, “The town of Ston is surrounded by one of the longest defensive walls in the world. The stone wall, over three miles in length, protects the city and ancient salt pans created during the Dubrovnik Republic in the 12th to 19th centuries.” The wall is of such significance that it has been named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Dubrovnik gained her independence in the early '90s although she had to endure an attack. On October 1, 1991, the Yugoslav People's Army began an assault that lasted seven months. At the end, the walls held, and the country was renamed the Republic of Croatia.


Filled with bay laurel and camphor trees, Dubrovnik has as many smells as it does sites. The aroma of bay leaves wafts through the air, leaving fragrant clues as to the types of vegetation found in this region. Many cruise lines, including Princess Cruises, offer excursions that include walking tours of the many botanical gardens in Dubrovnik. In addition to bay leaves, you'll also become familiar with camphor trees, which have a similar scent to eucalyptus and menthol.

Additional tours that take you along Croatia's coast and countryside offer hours of fun. Tour monasteries, historic churches and museums filled with ancient wonders. You'll also have plenty of opportunities to sample local seafood (a specialty!), locally grown figs and other regional delights.

The Gem Among Gems

With customary white buildings with bright red roofs, Dubrovnik has a panoramic view of sapphire-blue seas backed by lush-green foliage. The Dubrovnik Summer Festival (held since 1950) celebrates cultural accomplishments in music and stage, while the Dubrovnik Film Festival marks achievements on screen. Numerous other cultural festivals take place throughout the year.

With regal palaces and cathedrals, Dubrovnik boasts some of the most detailed and breathtaking buildings in the world. One such site is the Church of St. Ignatius (the stairway and the square in front are used as venues at the Dubrovnik Summer Festival). Enormous columns of marbled pink, gray and blue hues stretch forward toward the sky as if to reach heaven itself.

From its turmoiled past to its bright future, Dubrovnik is a gleaming jewel in the Adriatic that offers both educational and cultural value to those who visit.

Read more about the Princess Cruise Line.