Dubrovnik: It’s All in the Details

Like most travelers, we enjoy every city’s major attractions: the museums, monuments, and cathedrals. But over the years we’ve also developed a keen eye for detail – an appreciation for the small things that contribute to a city’s character.

Whether it’s local art, architectural embellishments, signs, gates, gardens or graffiti; it’s these telling details that help weave the fabric of a place. And as you might expect, a charming city like Dubrovnik has its own unique character.

It’s a wonderland of grand houses, sun-warmed squares, narrow alleyways, and majestic churches. In the 17th and 18th centuries it rivaled Venice in wealth and power. Its amazing preservation makes it easy to forget that during the Balkans War it was bombarded for 7 months, and the destruction was extensive. But surprisingly, delightful details remain and a ramble around the town reveals intriguing frills, both small and large.

Ivy Covered Arch

The city-state was founded and flourished because of maritime trade, but the many churches and small, patinated chapels are a reminder that life isn’t all business.

Palladian Window

This to-die-for terrace and sun room overlooking a busy square couldn’t be more perfect: drinks, dinner, and people-watching in summer, or a cup of tea indoors on a sunny winter afternoon.

Pizza Ad

Over the centuries, millions of footsteps have polished the stones in this narrow, cozy alleyway to a living-room shine, but a lone pizza sign and T shirt shop reminds visitors that Dubrovnik is far from being stuck in the past.

On a visit to Dubrovnik you’ll find a near-perfect Medieval walled fortress. But you’ll also find tons of tiny details that help make it what it is: The Pearl of the Adriatic. Enjoy.

Happy Trails,
James & Terri

Author: gallivance.net

We're Terri and James Vance - high school sweethearts who went on to international careers and became world nomads. Today, 65 countries later, we're still traveling ... and still in love. Check out Our Story for more of the backstory at gallivance.net.

34 thoughts

  1. Your posts over the years have definitely given me inspiration to look for the details. We are just coming home from Quebec City and earlier today I thought of you as I took a photo of an unusual head ornament over a door.
    Dubrovnik looks good in the details and the amazing vistas. Hope you are having a great time.

    1. As you can guess Sue, I see these details as the icing on the cake, and they can be very telling. For instance, we all have small decorations around our houses, both inside and out, that are special to us, and when seen as individual items they can say a lot about us. People were no different in the Middle Ages. ~James

    1. Thanks for the comment Maja, and for dropping by the blog. As I said to someone else, details are the icing on the cake for me. And I learned years ago that if I pay attention to the details, I won’t miss the big picture. ~James

  2. The cost of the restoration was estimated at $20 for the old city within the walls and $30 million for the urban area as a whole. A lot of it came from UNESCO. I have often wondered why the world took Dubrovnik to its heart whist other reconstruction of other destroyed cities remain unfunded. Why are we not doing something about Palmyra?

    1. As always Andrew, you make an interesting point. I’m sure you remember the billboard sign outside Dubrovnik’s main gate that had a map of all the locations where bombs exploded. I haven’t seen photos, but I’m sure the damage was extensive. As for Syria, I’m not normally a pessimist, but I don’t see a way forward or even a remote chance of a peaceful solution. In the meantime, all sides waste their money on the war machine and ignore everything else. ~James

      1. I haven’t been to Croatia for about 5 years now but last time there were still a lot of war damaged places that hadn’t been repaired. Even Mostar in Bosnia was still in ruins except for the famous bridge. TV coverage generates sympathy and cash for the lucky ones.

  3. You are so right about the gorgeous details in Dubrovnik. Your photos remind me of our summer holiday there in 2014. I remember particularly how shiny the paving stones were too. Happy travels and thanks for the great pics.

    1. Thanks Keiry. After 7 months of bombing, it’s amazing to me that so many of these details survived. Obviously, the city has been painstakingly restored, and it was so well done that it all appears original. Amazing! ~James

    1. You’re a woman after my own heart Laura. Is that terrace not perfect? It overlooked a busy little square with a cafe and lots of activity, so to me it was the perfect spot. And the palladian windows are beautiful. ~James

    1. Darlene, I’ve always loved and appreciated outdoor spaces that are multi-seasonal. In addition to being architecturally attractive, this terrace would be a lovely space at any time of the year. And if I were the Croatian Viscount of Something or Other it could be mine. 😉 ~James

  4. What I love about your posts is the attention to details others miss. The polished stones of the alley are a perfect example of your keen eye for the common yet beautiful!

    1. Thanks Martha. I love this narrow alley for a couple of reasons. First, this buff colored stone is one of my favorite building stones. It just screams Mediterranean. I think it’s limestone, but as a geologist, I should be horse-whipped for not knowing exactly what it is; see, there’s a detail I missed. And the other thing is the polish. I read somewhere online that the locals call these polished alleyways a “street salon.” Very appropriate. ~James

  5. Love your details no matter where you travel. My fave shot this time has to be that alleyway. But I’m not crazy about how modern retail has crept into our little towns — like the t-shirt shop you mentioned. A necessary evil, I suppose. I just wish they were selling “old” stuff since I love antiques and things with history. (It doesn’t pay the bills, however.)

    1. Rusha, not to toot my horn too much, but this alley shot took planning (and as always, some luck). I wanted to catch it without a mob of people and when the light was right. I waited until siesta time until most folks were at lunch or on their way somewhere else. I even tried cropping out the pizza sign, but it just didn’t work. We were just in Kotor, Montenegro, which also has some dandy alleys. Watch this space. ~James

      1. You have patience but also your wife does, too! Bert will wait only so long for me to get down on my knees, get the camera focused, and then take several shots. Ah, the patience of spouses!

  6. Have you guys been to Israel? The shiny, polished stone in the Old City in Jerusalem reminded so much of Dubrovnik every time I walked in there this summer. But then again, it also reminded me of the ancient Greek walkways in Athens and the Peloponnese – I think it’s partly the worn stone and partly that special Mediterranean light!

    1. No, we haven’t been to Jerusalem, but we’ve spent a fair amount of time in Greece, and we’ve seen these polished stones there. We were just in Kotor, Montenegro, which is another Medieval fortress city, and we saw it there. Don’t be surprised if you see a post or two. Watch this space. ~James

      1. Looking forward to it! I was in Kotor a few summers ago, but only for a day. I’ll be very interested in seeing what you found in (what was probably) a longer time there.

  7. I would say that that is my favorite part of your posts is the way that you do see the little details and share them with us. It’s so different and awesome! Thanks guys!

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