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The walled city

The walled city

In 1979, the Old City of Dubrovnik (which includes a large part of the ancient walls of the city) joined other world treasures on the Unesco list of World Heritage Sites. On average 24 m high and up to 6 m thick, the walls date back to the 13th century. Further reinforcements, including a series of imposing towers intended to protect the city against the marauding Turks, were added later on. The oldest systems of fortifications around the town were probably wooden palisades. Today's intact city walls, constructed mainly during the 12th –17th centuries, have long been a source of pride for Dubrovnik. This complex circular structure, amongst the largest and most complete in Europe, protected the freedom and safety of the ‘civilized and sophisticated’ Republic of Ragusa’ that flourished in peace and prosperity for five centuries. The walls were reinforced by three circular and 14 quadrangular towers, five bastions, (bulwarks), two angular fortifications and the large St. John's Fortress. Land Walls were additionally reinforced by one larger bastion and nine smaller semicircular ones, Fort Bokar, the oldest preserved fort of this kind in Europe. The moat running around the outside section of the city walls, was once armed by more than 120 cannons, making superb city defences and a formidable sight.

Another interesting feature along the walls is the Maritime Museum (inside the Bokar tower) containing objects, paintings and documents from the city’s history. The ground floor houses the famous Aquarium. The monumental space of the fortress creates a spacious and interesting ambience for visitors who can view specimens of Adriatic fauna in 27 basins of various sizes.

A definitive 'must' on any visit to Dubrovnik, the medieval city walls are best explored by taking the full, two-kilometre walk along the battlements. Featuring ever-changing views out to sea and over the Old Town, they offer excellent photo opportunities and beautiful views over the Adriatic. A good starting point is Placa - the main entrance to the walls just inside Pile Gate. Open daily from 8am-7pm (summer); 10am-3pm (winter).