Friday 18 September 2009


Just back from Dubrovnik. My first visit, and it was just about possible to discern through the fog of a million visitors what a delightful jewel it is. It might be even more delightful if it had been spared a devastating earthquake in 1667 that destroyed most of the city and killed 5,000 people.

The famous city walls and some notable buildings survived, like the Sponza Palace, the Rector's Palace and St Saviour's Church. I was disappointed to see how many of the churches were locked, without any apparent information as to when they would open.

The earthquake hit Dubrovnik when it was a prosperous independent republic, but it never really recovered, and in 1802 it was conquered by Napoleon, and then handed over to the Austrian Empire after the French Emperor's defeat.

In more recent times, Dubrovnik got caught up in Yugoslavia's civil war, and was struck by 2,000 shells during 1991-2. The Sponza and Rector's Palaces were seriously damaged as were two in three of the city's characteristic red-roofed houses. Outside the old city, many walls still bear the marks of bullets and shrapnel.

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