Dubrovnik is Croatia's most famous coastal city. With hundreds of years of history and imposing fortifications, there are plenty of sights to see in this UNESCO-protected sight. Here are some of the ones you shouldn't miss when you visit.
Dubrovnik's City Walls
The city walls of Dubrovnik offer the best views of the city and the surrounding points of interest. A small fee will let you walk all 1600-plus feet of them. Along the way, you'll be able to duck into outposts and climb defensive towers, peer into townspeople's back yards, and identify other important sights from excellent vantage points.
Luza Square and the Stradun
The Stradun is the main artery of Dubrovnik and runs from its main gate (the Pile Gate) to Luza Square, where the city's clock tower stands watch. Along this street are shops, currency exchanges, cafes, and restaurants. Duck into the side streets off of the Stradun to find more options for food and shopping, and use Luza Square as a point of orientation for further exploration of Old Town Dubrovnik.
The Franciscan monastery's cloister, with its frescoes, garden, and fountain, is a peaceful sanctuary. Pay attention to the columns of the cloister, which are capped with detailed carvings depicting animas and human faces. For an additional fee, you can visit the small pharmacy museum which preserves the history of one of Europe's oldest pharmacies, which is still in service in the monastery today.
The Church of St. Blaise
The Church of St. Blaze, on Luza Square, is an important church because it honors St. Blaise, or Sveti Vlaho, the patron saint of Dubrovnik. On the saint's feast day (February 3), his relics, which are kept in the church, are paraded through Old Town's streets. A silver statue of St. Blaise is one of Dubrovnik's treasures.
Look for the image of St. Blaise elsewhere in Dubrovnik - he examines every new visitor from his perch at the top of the Pile Gate.
Cathedral of the Assumption
The Cathedral of the Assumption has offered archeologists insight into the age of the Dubrovnik settlement. The church that currently stands on this spot replaced an older church, but that church was built on the site of an even older church from the 7th century - the foundations of which were revealed during renovation.
You can't miss the Onofrio Fountain when you enter Dubrovnik by the Pile Gate. This massive fountain was built in the 15th century in order to supply the city with fresh water. Smaller fountains can be seen throughout the city. Though the Onofrio Fountain has suffered damage from time and earthquakes, remnants of its original decorations remain.
Roland's Column stands in front of the Church of St. Blaise. This column represents both Dubrovnik's value of freedom and its past loyalty to Sigismund, who was King of Hungary, Croatia, and Bohemia in the 15th century. This highly detailed sculpture of the legendary knight is one of the symbols of Dubrovnik.
The Sponza Palace
The Sponza Palace on Luza Square, is home to the Dubrovnik Archives. Its Gothic windows and elegant arches represent the best of Dubrovnik architecture. This building once housed an armory, mint, treasury, and customs office.
The Rector's Palace is a combination of different architectural styles and its look has evolved with the city. The Rector's Palace is now a museum that recreates how the interiors of the structure once looked.
The Lovrijenac Fortress is located outside Dubrovnik's walls. This imposing structure, with the ocean waves beating against its rocky base, is the focal point of many Dubrovnik photos. Today, the fortress is used as a part of the Dubrovnik Summer Festival and the site of annual performances of Hamlet.