City Walls

Lauren Simmonds

Dubrovnik’s imposing city walls are one of the city’s top attractions, especially during the summer months, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors each year owing to their striking appearance and perfect preservation. These giant stone structures have cocooned the city and protected its residents since the founding of the town, prior to the 7th century. Numerous additions, modifications and restorations have followed throughout their long history, and they are more than deservingly considered to be one of the greatest fortification systems of the Middle Ages. Unsurprisingly, the mighty 25 metre high walls were never successfully breached by any hostile force during that time. In 1979, the Old City of Dubrovnik, along with the city walls, joined the famed UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.

Mainly constructed between the 12th and 17th centuries, the old city walls have since long been a source of pride and joy for locals. The very oldest fortification encircling the town was likely constructed using wooden palisades, with the bulk of the existing walls as we know them today completed in the 14th and 15 centuries, continually being strengthened and modified up until the 17th century. The walls run an uninterrupted course for 1,940 metres in length, encircling the vast majority of the famous Old City. This highly impressive structure, continually improved upon throughout the centuries, proudly finds itself among the largest and most complete of its kind still in existence in Europe. It protected the freedom and safety of the once all-powerful autonomous Republic of Ragusa which flourished in absolute peace and prosperity for some five long centuries.

The walls were reinforced by three circular and fourteen quadrangular towers, five bastions, two angular fortifications and the large Saint John’s Fortress. Land walls were additionally reinforced by one larger bastion and nine smaller semicircular ones of a similar design. The outside of the walls, in their ”heyday” were heavily armed with 120 cannons. 

Today, the walls are no longer armed or manned and can be accessed via two separate entrances, one at each entrance to the Old City (eastern and western, Ploce and Pile). The walk around the walls in their entirity takes around two hours, but with the numerous (endless, if I’m being honest) photographic opportunities you’ll no doubt be up there for longer. By walking the walls, you’ll experience Dubrovnik in a totally new way and see it from a completely different perspective, there is no view in the world quite like a birdseye view of Dubrovnik’s old harbour, signature red rooftops and quaint alleyways from 25 metres up. You will walk to the highest point, which is a round fortification called Minceta Fortess, from which you can see all the way to Cavtat, as well as the impressive Lovrijenac Fortress (Saint Lawrence) sitting dramatically on the top of a rugged, 37 metre high cliff. The panoramic views of Stradun and the surrounding area are enough to make one jealous of one of the city’s many pigeons who get to enjoy such sights on a daily basis. You will get up close and personal with the 31 metre tall bell tower and see its two bronze residents, known as the Zelenci. The southern section of the walls allows for fantastic, uninterrupted views of the deep blue Adriatic sea and the emerald island of Lokrum.

Admission to the walls is 120hrk (less for students, war veterans and locals) and there are two options available. You can either go freely or with a tour guide who will narrate over 1,400 years of Dubrovnik’s rich history to accompany the truly unique perspectives and sights the walls offer. There are several types of tour on offer and the walls have been used on several occasions for the hit TV show ”Game of Thrones”, a guided tour which covers all the filming locations is an absolute must for diehard fans of the series.

The opening and closing times for accessing the walls vary depending on the season and regularly updated information can be found at their respective entrances. It should be noted that you can get down from the walls at the halfway mark if you are in some way physically compromised or you simply feel it is too much, and in the summer months I would absolutely not recommend walking them at any other time other than during the very early morning or at sunset. While drinks and refreshments can be purchased on the walls, taking a bottle of water with you independently is an absolute must.


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