A heritage of culture and history
Dubrovnik is called the Pearl of the Adriatic above all because of its great wealth of heritage in the arts and in history. The famous writer George Bernard Shaw once wrote that "those who seek heaven on earth must come to Dubrovnik." He has been followed in visits and delight by millions of those searching for the dream during the past century in which Dubrovnik has been an unavoidable tourist destination in the Croatian south.
Its name is derived from the oak forests that grew nearby, called locally "dubrave". Every historical story and legend has today its traces and inscriptions in the stone facades of the historical core and the paving stones of Stradun, the surrounding streets, the church of the patron saint St. Vlaho (Blasius), the fortresses among which are Lovrijenac that rises on a steep 37 meter high crag and that cost the Venetians great pains as they threatened the freedom of the Dubrovnik Republic and in the memorials to Dubrovnik's knights and princes, nobles…
But the most identifiable characteristic of this historic UNESCO protected city is its untainted city walls that circle the city in an unbroken line 1940 metres long. The walls of Dubrovnik are one of the most beautiful and strongest fortress systems on the Mediterranean, full of forts, bastions, towers and separate fortresses. A walk along them offers a real picture of all the stone beauties of the City, dominated by Dubrovnik's best-known street, the Stradun, the shortest path between the city's east and west portals. The clean stone surface of the largest street in the historic core – Stradun, is the venue of large municipal events among which the best known are the Dubrovnik Summer Games, but also a place for meetings, fun and gathering and spectacular open-air New Year's celebrations.
The Dubrovnik waters have in the past few years seen newly built Dubrovnik Karaka's once again set sail, replicas of the passenger and merchant ships of the glory and commercial spirit of the Dubrovnik Republic. At the end of the 16th century the Karaka's of Dubrovnik were counted among the largest ships in the world, today they sail tourists on tours of the hidden coves and small islands around Dubrovnik and on the "pirate's route" on the Adriatic.
An unavoidable place for rest and relaxation is the Pelješac peninsula, after Istria Croatia's largest peninsula and once a part of the Dubrovnik Republic. There to this day are the walls of Ston, a 5 and a half kilometre long line fortified by strongholds that defended the passage to Dubrovnik. Especially interesting is the town of Orebić, an 18th century maritime centre where to this day the facades of the local family homes show the prosperity and wealth of the families of the sailors who sailed the entire world and invested their earnings into these stone villas and palaces.
From back when the global seafarer Marco Polo departed from his birthplace of Korčula, an island in the waters of Dubrovnik (his home still stands in the city and can be visited), the knightly town of Korčula with its rich history has developed into a kind of stone urban sculpture of orderly lines and is entirely preserved to this day. What makes it special is the municipal architecture, the creators of which wished to have the city's streets, arranged in a fishbone pattern, at all times bathed in sun – morning and afternoon, but not during the heat of noon.
In honour of the famous seafarer Marco Polo an international festival of song and wine bearing his name is held in July, while a rendition of his sailing into the Korčula harbour is held every May. Korčula is also the site of a festival of Knights games of traditional sword-play dances, the Moreška, Kumpanija and Moštra. Performed in the original 16th century outfits, these dances depict the struggle of the white and black king for the favour of the princess that has been abducted by the black king. The performance is accompanied by a battle march song played by a wind orchestra and is performed every year on July 29th on St. Todor's Day and every Thursday during the tourist season.
Only 3 km from Metković in the place Vid there are the remains of the antiquity city of Narona, a Roman colony and Emporium that based it wealth on commerce and is the most precious part of the historical heritage of the Croatian south and the most significant archaeological find outside of Rome with over 30 Roman-era monuments. Not far from this historic place there is, every year at the beginning of August, a boat marathon of the traditional vessels of the region, a sports competition on the river Neretva spanning 22 and a half thousand metres.
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