The Resurgence of Dubrovnik
PHOTO: Aerial shot of Dubrovnik's UNESCO designated Old City Medevial Walls courtesy of Wikipedia
No offense to the actual designated capital of Croatia, Zagreb, the real pulsating heart of this small Adriatic country is Dubrovnik on the southern coast. Currently undergoing a resonance in tourism interest after the shocking bombings of 1991 put them on the modern day map, Dubrovnik’s 16th century “Old Town” -- with its astonishingly well-preserved medieval walls, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site -- is well worth the visit.
For fans of Game of Thrones, the scenery of Dubrovnik will actually be quite familiar. Numerous scenes from all the seasons were shot in this charming area. The famous Battle of Blackwater was shot towards free standing Lovrjenac Fort, which stood-in for Redfort, i.e. the fort controlled by the House of Arryn. Or you can circle Minčeta Tower at the walls’ highest point, where you’ll be following in the footsteps of Daenerys Targaryan as she desperately tried enter the House of the Undying to rescue her dragons.
Additionally, for those who desperately desire a voyage in the pristine Adriatic Sea abutting Dubrovnik, a short boat ride away is the nearly untouched Lokrum Island, where scenes set in Qarth were filmed, but my favorite is the gorgeous Renaissance-style arboretum at Trsteno Gardens, 13 km northwest of Dubrovnik, where Sansa Stark met with Lady and Margaery Tyrell.
PHOTO: Castle Dubrovnik courtesy of Google Images
Fly Croatia Airlines -- who knew the country had its own airline -- as well as British Airways for the average fare in getting to Europe, typically around $1,000 U.S. While in the summer there are five routes daily to Dubrovnik, in the off-season the routes are less frequent. If you can find a cheap flight to Europe, the internal flights from European countries to Croatia run merely 115 euros.
PHOTO: Sheraton Dubrovnik Riviera Hotel courtesy of Sheraton Dubrovnik Riviera Hotel
The powerful Starwood Hotels & Worldwide literally just announced the opening of Sheraton Dubrovnik Riviera Hotel, a 251-room contemporary designed hotel owned by Hoteli Dubrovacka Rivijera d.d. Set on the spectacular Adriatic coast along the Dubrovnik Riviera, this newly constructed property is a short distance from Old Town Dubrovnik, as well as numerous cultural, historical and natural attractions, including museums and galleries. Spend a little extra for one of the 11 suites with terraces, which provides sweeping views of the secluded bay and mountainous backdrop.
PHOTO: Cathedral of Assumption in Dubrovnik courtesy of Google Images
While the Crusades are familiar to any student of history, Dubrovnik’s Cathedral of the Assumption’s storied alliance with Richard the Lionheart is little known. Built in the 7th-century as a basilica, King Richard I helped expand the Cathedral after he was saved from a shipwreck on the aforementioned nearby island of Lokrum. Sadly, that iteration of the Cathedral was destroyed in an earthquake in 1667 but was rebuilt, and finished in its current baroque iteration, in 1713. However, the one element untouched is the dripping amounts of gold and silver crafted by Croatians in Dubrovnik in the 11th and 12th century.
Until I finish my research on Dubrovnik, for additional great details on what to do and eat in Dubrovnik (the Sheraton Dubrovnik Rivieria Hotel, of course, was not open in 2012), read the “36 hours in Dubrovnik” the indomitable The New York Times published in 2012. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/30/travel/36-hours-in-dubrovnik-croatia.html?_r=0.