Visiting Dubrovnik with a Dog, Part 2 – Dalmatia – Croatia
Last week, I introduced you to Dubrovnik and took you on the first part of a walking tour. We checked out the city walls, Brsalje Square, the Pile Gates, Onofrio’s Fountain, the Church of our Saviour, and the Franciscan Monastery. Whew. I promised to come back and fetch you in the monastery gardens so we could continue our tour. Did you enjoy your time in the garden? Did you rest? Because we are off again!
6. Stradun Side Streets
The Stradun (or Placa) is the main street of Dubrovnik. I mentioned it last week as one of the highlights of Dubrovnik. Well, now we’re going to take a closer look.
The Stradun is a 300-metre pedestrian promenade that connects the two gates to the old city. The buildings along the way are all similar in style because it all had to be re-built after an earthquake in the 17th-century. Many of the buildings have arches that frame the doors and windows. A sill in each arch was used as a counter over which business was conducted.
If you’re up for a detour, wander the side streets a bit and discover what’s behind the grand Stradun. If you head up Žudioska Street, you can visit the second-oldest synagogue in Europe (and oldest Sephardic synagogue). It still has its original 17th-century furnishings. Dogs aren’t allowed inside so you’ll have to do a hand off. This is no big deal since there are lots of nice shops and coffee places for the biped with the dog to explore while the other biped visits the synagogue.
7. Sponza Palace
Back on the Stradun, as you head toward Luža Square and the Clock Tower, look left and note the graceful Renaissance arches of the Sponza Palace. The palace used to be Dubrovnik’s customs house. Today it houses the state archives with documents dating back to the 12th-century. There’s also a space set aside for the Memorial Room of the Dubrovnik Defenders. Multimedia images show the destruction suffered in Dubrovnik when the city was under siege during the War for Independence (1991–1992). The exhibition also includes photos of the young people who died during the seige. Sadly, I was not allowed inside so the bipeds gave this a miss.
8. Orlando’s Column and Onofrio’s Small Fountain
Orlando’s Column will be in front of you as you exit the Sponza Palace, and the Clock Tower will be to your left. Note the statue’s forearm, which was Old Ragusa’s standard of measurement (512mm/20 in.). The Clock Tower features a pair of bronze men who move up to strike the bell on the hour. The Town Hall is to the right of the Clock Tower and Onofrio’s Small Fountain is in front of that.
Turn left in front of Orlando’s Column and walk through the passageway between the Sponza Palace and the Town Hall.
9. Dominican Monastery, the Old Harbour, and the Ploče Gate
The Dominican Monastery is a complex that includes a large church, cloisters, and a museum. The original 14th-century church was destroyed in the 1667 quake, and this one was rebuilt late in the 17th century. There are some interesting paintings inside, and the church doubles as a concert venue during the Summer Festival. The cloisters are a must-see, with courtyard gardens and interesting stonework. Dogs are not allowed, so you can risk the stealth mode (ahem …) or do a hand off. We chose the hand off option and that is how we discovered the most wonderful little restaurant named Rizario where we later had lunch! We enjoyed amazing local dishes such as freshly deep fried anchovies and black risotto!
When you exit the monastery, turn left onto Svetog Dominika. Continue on to explore the old harbour, Ploče Gate, and Revelin Fortress, then retrace your steps and return to Luža Square.
10. Gradska Kavana and the Rector’s Palace
As you return from the Dominican Monastery, the Town Hall and Gradska Kavana (Town Café) will be on your left. You can break for a cold drink or coffee and sit at tables facing the square or go inside to the Gradska Taverna and grab a spot on the terrace overlooking the old harbour.
The Venetian-Gothic Rector’s Palace (not pet friendly) is adjacent to the Gradska Kavana complex. The palace is fronted by pillars made of marble from Korčula (we visited that town, so stay tuned!) and topped with interesting carvings. The interior is used for summer concerts. We did not go inside the Rector’s Palace, partly because it wasn’t pet friendly and so another hand off would have been required, but also because the bipeds … well, they just didn’t feel like it. It happens, Dear Reader. It was sunny and warm and we all just wanted to be outside.
11. Dubrovnik Cathedral
From the Rector’s Palace, turn left and you’ll see Dubrovnik Cathedral. The current cathedral was built in the late 17th-century in the Baroque style, but the cathedral’s foundations stretch back to the 7th-century. The cathedral is full of light and space with the exception of the minimalist gray marble altar. Its blocky style is incongruent with the Baroque surroundings; however, the artwork behind the altar makes up for any disappointment you might feel about the altar. In fact, the cathedral is renowned for its collection of art, gold and silver objects, and priceless relics, including the skull of St. Blaise and what is reputed to be a piece of the True Cross. Be sure to stop in The Treasury and take a look at the precious objects, which are only a portion of the treasures held by the cathedral before the earthquake of 1667.
When you exit the cathedral, walk around to the rear and up Androvićeva towards the market, the Jesuit Steps, and the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola …
… or turn left and walk past the Rector’s Palace to return to Luža Square.
12. St. Blaise Church
As you return to Luža Square, you’ll find this 18th-century Baroque church that is a tribute to Dubrovnik’s patron saint. Inside, the altar is the main draw, with its statue of the saint holding a model of the city of Dubrovnik as it was before the 1667 quake. Outside, the church’s wide steps are a popular resting and meeting place for tourists. The bipeds did the hand off thing so they could visit the church. I had great fun on the steps chasing the pigeons and cats!
From here, you’re off on your own. I highly recommend that you wander about and get lost in the small streets of Dubrovnik. You’ll come across loads of cats and coffee shops—the cats for your canine companion and the coffee shops for you! One coffee shop we really enjoyed is cut out of the rampart wall and faces the sea. You can sit and enjoy a drink and snack there with your canine and watch the crazy young humans jump from the cliff edge into the sea.
Still inside the wall, at a section that juts out into the sea into the marina, is a maritime museum and aquarium. Pets are not allowed inside but should you be interested, the aquarium all sorts of sea creatures, fish, and even seahorses. It’s a great way for kids to learn about the Mediterranean Sea.
Follow the marina around the tower and you’ll see where the locals go for a swim. You’ll also find fishermen and those who sell the boat tours and taxi boat tickets.
Dubrovnik is often put down as too crowded, too hot, and too small for all the hype. We did not feel that way. We enjoyed remarkably good food and beautiful sights. When a massive storm hit the city, we watched in dismay as the steps that led to our apartment became torrential waterfalls. The only thing left to do was find a little restaurant, have dinner early, and wait for the rain to stop. And that is what we did. And then, true to Dubrovnik style, the sun cleared, the sky turned pink, and the town took our breath away … again.
In review: Visiting Dubrovnik with a Dog is a must. An amazing town. Note that pets are not allowed inside the churches and museums so a hand off will be needed. Pets are, however, allowed on every patio and inside many restaurants. Stores in general welcomed pets unless specifically indicating otherwise with a sticker on the door. Visit Dubrovnik early in the day (I do mean early—as in before 9:00 a.m.) or in the afternoon (after 4:30 p.m.). September temperatures were perfect and we could tell that July and August would be brutally hot. Bring water for your pup, and keep in mind the thousands of steps. You will not regret visiting Dubrovnik. It is known as the Pearl of the Dalmatian Coast and the reputation is well deserved.