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article imagePast and present in Dubrovnik, Croatia: A Photo Essay Special

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By Darren Weir     Jul 12, 2012 in Travel
Dubrovnik - Dubrovnik Croatia surprised me. I always knew it was a city with a lot of history but I didn’t realize everywhere you turn you would be faced with Dubrovnik’s past. The focal point of the city is the walled old city and the seaside fort.
Dubrovnik's history stares back at you from the buildings, homes and its cobblestone streets (especially around the waterfront). The fort is very prominent with its giant stone walls rising from the harbour, providing protection from invaders for centuries. And it turns out that fort still plays an important role in the defence of the city.
Shops and stairs on Dubrovnik side street
Shops and stairs on Dubrovnik side street
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But as the hills rise from the sea, the homes and buildings are built along steep side streets and I was not really prepared for all the stairs. I have never visited a city or town with so many steps. It felt like we were constantly climbing up flight after flight, sometimes going up a couple of flights before going down and then up again. It certainly gave my quads and my knees a workout.
Dubrovnik has some nice beaches right on the Adriatic Sea just don’t expect expanses of soft white sand. There is a rough sand public beach but you will have to stake out your space early. If you want to get away from the crowds you will head over to the island of Lokrum, about a 20 minute ferry ride from the harbour.
Rocky  beach  on Lokrum Island  Croatia
Rocky 'beach' on Lokrum Island, Croatia
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Take a stroll through the woods, home to the friendliest flock of peacocks, peahens and their chicks you'll ever meet. The ‘beach’ though is basically a field of relatively flat rocks, tidal ponds and small cliffs to jump into the sea.
The best way to enjoy Dubrovnik is on foot as you make your way through the historic city, in amazing condition after the rebuild following the war with Serbia in the 1990's. Most of the homes and buildings had their roofs destroyed or at least heavily damaged so the clay tile roofs are all relatively new.
roof lines in Dubrovnik Croatia
roof lines in Dubrovnik Croatia
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I also learned that the fort and giant wall helped to save the city yet again from its approaching enemy. While almost the entire harbour went up in flames and mortars were fired heavily at the wall, it managed to withstand the barrage and forced the invaders to rethink their battle plan.
stone wall and battlements surround the old fort in Dubrovnik  Croatia
stone wall and battlements surround the old fort in Dubrovnik, Croatia
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Its residents have picked up the pieces and moved forward, not looking back but ahead, at the city and the country’s future.
poster display at art shop showing the shop pre-war and after being bombed during Serbian war
poster display at art shop showing the shop pre-war and after being bombed during Serbian war
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big storm clouds over the clock tower in old Dubrovnik  Croatia
big storm clouds over the clock tower in old Dubrovnik, Croatia
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I was there to see one really big rain storm... it was a deluge! In fact as we looked across the sea at Lokrum we spotted a tornado.
Tornado over Lokrum Island  Croatia July 2011
Tornado over Lokrum Island, Croatia July 2011
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Luckily there was no damage. And later there was a spectacular rainbow but the rain made the slippery stone streets as slick as ice and I spotted a few people take some big falls so make sure to tread carefully.
rainbow after rainstorm in Dubrovnik Croatia July 2011
rainbow after rainstorm in Dubrovnik Croatia July 2011
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You'll also want to browse through some of the art and craft shops around the city.
art vendor on side street in Old Dubrovnik  Croatia
art vendor on side street in Old Dubrovnik, Croatia
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The crafts are still the same ones that have kept Croatians in business for centuries; beautiful paintings and artworks, amazing textiles and of course the bounty from agriculture.
vegetable vendor at Farmers Market Dubrovnik  Croatia
vegetable vendor at Farmers Market Dubrovnik, Croatia
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The smell of lavender hovers over all of the farmer’s markets with dozens of growers offering up their homemade sachets and pillows for sale, next to flavoured honey, local pastries, fruit and vegetables.
lavender products at farmers market  Dubrovnik  Croatia
lavender products at farmers market, Dubrovnik, Croatia
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It’s hard not to go home with fragrant souvenirs of your visit, memories of Dubrovnik every time you open your suitcase.
Dubrovnik marina on the Black Sea with Old Fort walls in the background
Dubrovnik marina on the Black Sea with Old Fort walls in the background
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Old stone sculptured face on the side of a building in Dubrovnik  Croatia
Old stone sculptured face on the side of a building in Dubrovnik, Croatia
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