Dubrovnik: history and modern art

Two books have accompanied me on this trip. The first is the 3rd edition of Marcus Stanver’s ‘Croatia: a history forged in war’ and the second is the 11th edition of ‘Dubrovnik in War’ edited by Milenko Foretić. Staying in the old city has also focussed us on history so far as it is all around us. Today we need a change so headed out of the walled city through the gate we had entered on Monday on to the road behind.

A flight of steps took us up to the station for the four-minute cable car journey to the summit of Mount Srđ (412m). There are great views over the Adriatic and inland to the mountain ranges.


There is some history up here, the remains of a Napoleonic Fort and the white cross which was destroyed in the 1991-1995 war has been rebuilt. I noticed a switchback path on the hillside emerging from the pine forests so walking up is also an option which I had not known about. Doing it in mid-summer would have to be early in the day and with lots of water as it is exposed for most of the route. After descending we walked along the road to the Museum of Modern Art housed in what was a ship-owner’s summer villa built between 1939 and 1949 in a similar style to some of the palaces in the old city. There are exhibitions on three floors with the current focus on their collection from the beginning of the 19th century to the present day. Most of the works are paintings with a few prints and numerous sculptures. There is a terrace overlooking the sea with sculptures

including this one by Frano Kršinić entitled ‘Mother’s play’ from 1965.

The museum ticket gives access to eight more around the city so we will explore some more tomorrow. Just below the museum were steps leading down to a small shingle beach. Huge piles of sunbeds suggest that it will be crowded in mid-summer but this morning it was quiet with only a few people around. I found some sea glass and admired the view over to the walled city while James made a new friend as yet another cat wandered over to see him.

Afterwards we sat by the harbour enjoying the sun while some pigeons were bathing in a puddle left by the rain a couple of nights ago. To make us feel at home one of the many boat trips you can take from here is in a craft shaped like and called ‘Yellow Submarine’.

Stepping back into history we visited the maritime museum which is housed in the Sveti Ivan Fortress. Noticing how many ships in the 18th and 19th century were built in Glasgow, Belfast and Northeast England was a potent reminder of what our past ship-building industry was and what we have lost. There were also a couple of physicians’ chests from ships on display.
This one from the 18th century included a treatise on the management of scurvy. The 19th century chest had many more bottles of potions and instruments.

Outside the inevitable cat was resting on a cannon.

This evening we ate at a restaurant called ‘The Taj Mahal’. Despite the name it serves Bosnian not Indian food. Sunset photography was not on tonight as it started to rain while we were eating.

Dubrovnik: walking the walls and exploring churches

Today was overcast and rain forecast for the afternoon so we set off to walk around the city walls first thing when they are quieter. There are good views over the town and the Adriatic, a few runs of steps to the viewpoints and Minčeta Tower which are good exercise and some spring flowers.



There was a small cafe in the walls providing a welcome espresso and others near the St John Fort and Maritime Museum where we started and finished our circuit. Wandering back along the Stradum I noted that a number of the places we have visited or are about to have been film sets for either Game of Thrones or Star Wars or both and here there are plenty of shops to buy souvenirs. Very few destinations are without an Irish pub and I have seen two of these so far. We had a look in the cathedral where there are some modern paintings depicting the stations of the cross


and then the church of St Blaise which has stained glass windows by Ivo Dulčić.


In the early evening we were wandering around trying to decide where to eat. As we we are a little out of season some places are not open. James was not keen to hang around the harbour until sunset at 19.17 so we headed back towards the centre of town and found a place (Konobo Colosseum) right next to Croatia’s equivalent of the Spanish steps.

Discovering Dubrovnik

Spring was in the air as we drove down to Gatwick. Oilseed Rape was in full bloom turning the fields yellow and lambs were enjoying the sun. I even had to put my sunglasses on. After a night in an airport hotel and an early start, we had an uneventful flight with some good views of the snowy Alpine peaks and a quick passage through immigration and baggage claim. Our taxi driver was waiting for us and we were soon on our way to Dubrovnik. There was building work at the airport and new hotels going up all along the coast. The driver told us that we had made a good decision coming in early April rather than in July and August when it is so busy. I have heard that passes for access to the old city are being considered. As in other coastal European cities, cruise ships arriving can disgorge hundreds or even thousands of passengers at a time, causing crowding.We met our host and we had settled into our apartment which is in a building in the old city wall. After a rest we headed out to explore, looking at the buildings and some of the interesting side streets.



We also met some of the residents, including numerous cats



and a few parrots. I did not see a dog until we were walking back from our evening meal and a few small dogs were having their evening promenade.

We passed the home of Ivo Grbić, an 85 year old painter. His house had been hit by incendiary bombs in 1991 but he has rebuilt it and now has a gallery of his work.

Following an alley through the city wall with the following written on it

led to the Bužar Bar. We sat by the rocky shore opposite Lokrum Island with a beer listening to the waves and the Rolling Stones. Apparently the bar sometimes has to close if the sea is too rough.

Today’s outings were concluded with dinner at Azur, a Croatian/Asian fusion restaurant nearby which was excellent.