The Challenge of Walking the Dubrovnik Walls

We did not know that the city walls of  Dubrovnik  are the second most attractive promenade in the world. The British journal ”The Sunday Times” has published a list of 50 most beautiful walking tours in the world.  Following Gencoe Hill in Scotland, the city walls of Dubrovnik was ranked second. The walk is scenic and breathtaking. Along the way, one would have views of the historical and architecture pleasing fortifications: Minceta, Bokar, and St. John, along with two freestanding fortifications, Lovrijenac and Revelin. While the walls encircle several sides of the city, what I found most breathtaking is the section overlooking the sea.

We entered the old city through the Pile gate. This is the north gate which features a stone bridge with two gothic arches. On entering, the outer draw bridge is met by an internal bridge that leads into the city.

The city walls were originally constructed in the 10th century, although fortified considerably in 1453. They are 3m thick along the sea wall, and 6m thick inland.

While we have been successful in talking my Father-In-Law (FIL) of age 80+ into walking both sections of the Plitvice Lakes National Park, we were also disappointed that FIL has declined to walk up the Spanish Castle in Hvar island on seeing the steep approach to the castle; even on suggesting that he could avoid half the steps by walking up a longer but gentle zig-zag path by the side or taking a taxi.

In Dubrovnik, we were wondering how to entice FIL to take the 2 km walk high up on the walls surrounding the Dubrovnik old town. The worrying part was of course the 750 steps along the way and the steep and narrow winding staircase to the Minceta Tower, the highest point in the walk.

We finally decided that the best way was to get the entry tickets for the walk  and simply tell FIL that we would have a delightful walk. In our minds, we knew that if the walk later proved to be too difficult for him, we would escort him back to the town square, without completing the walk

Among the many towers, the most impressive one is a huge, round tower Minčeta, work of Juraj Dalmatinac (15th century), which became a symbol of Dubrovnik. The tall Minceta Tower looked formidable. My heart sank when I saw the steep and narrow stairway crowded with tourists. For a moment,  I thought it might be a bit dangerous for FIL to negotiate the steep steps. To my surprise, he was determined to give it a try. . . . . . . . . so he climbed up steadily, step by step,  with determination to reach the very top of the tower! He finally conquered the climb, smiling happily as he took a photo under the Croatian flag at the highest point of the walk.

The short, but steep climb up was well worth it. The views of the city were the best here, and even the views of the outside city and surrounding hills were at their best here. We were standing on the tower wall dividing the main road on the left, the terracotta roofs on the right with the old port to the top of the picture.

Minčeta stands high above rest of Dubrovnik as a symbol of the unconquerable City Dubrovnik and tells the Dubrovnik story of  love for the most precious sweet liberty. The fort provides a magnificent view of Dubrovnik  and it is rightfully said that one has not been in Dubrovnik unless one witnessed the view from atop of Minčeta.

We descended from Minceta Tower and walked towards the seaward section of the Dubrovnik walls.

The main wall on the sea-facing side of Dubrovnik, stretches from Fort Bokar in the west to St. John Fortress in the south, and to the Revelin Frotress on the land-side. These walls are 1.5 to 5 meters (5–16 feet) thick, depending on their location and its strategic importance. The purpose of these walls were to help defend the city from sea-based attacks, particularly from the Republic of Venice, which was often considered a threat to Dubrovnik’s safety.

The seaside interesting walk led us passing turrets, high cliffs, houses with high walls.

The walk took us over 3 hours under the sun. We were so happy that FIL has once again conquered his fear of walking. Maybe, our tactics worked. In Hvar, on seeing the steep approach to the Spanish Castle FIL was intimidated. But here, he was given no choice but to walk with us, knowing that he would be assisted on the way. Is that not just a normal human reaction: we usually shy away from difficulties if we are painfully aware of the obstacles but  would go along if we are not completely aware of the difficulties and are not given any choice.

We happily completed the walkabout on the walls and found ourselves back to the old port area where we were eager to have food and a good rest. . . . . . . . . .  . . . . .

79 thoughts on “The Challenge of Walking the Dubrovnik Walls

  1. Your great photos made me feel warm just to look at them. It’s been such a wet summer in Ireland! It also brought back fond memories of my own visit to Croatia – island hopping a year ago.

    • It was hot and dry when we visited Croatia a couple of months ago; Ireland is high up on my list of travelling, I hope to be there when it is not too cold nor too wet. Thanks for your kind comment! Regards, Michael

  2. Hi Michael, a great post with some lovely photographs…I too walked the walls of Dubrovnic many many years ago, before the war (early eighties I guess), I remember it being a stunning place full of beauty and a long history. Thank you for bringing back those faded memories.



  3. Once again, simply stunning. I’m in awe of both the magnificent architecture and your 80 year old FIL. What a hero. I golfed today in the heat and I thought I was suffering. I should take a lesson from him.

    • Hi, it’s great to learn that you golf. With global warming, it seems hot everywhere, we are experiencing 33+ degrees. Thanks again for your encouraging comment! Michael

  4. I walked the walls of Dubrovnik many years ago with my husband during our honeymoon and have wonderful memories – seeing your photos and reading your words reinforces my desire to return.

    • Hi Madoqua, as you said my FIL has got a lot of satisfaction out of this trip and I am glad he has done it. Many thanks for your perusal of various posts! Michael.

  5. another fabulous post Michael! So true about our attitudes to difficulties, which are so often perceived rather than real too. As for the Sunday Times, given your photos, it is possible they are a little biased! No disrespect intended to Edinburgh 🙂

    • Yes, you are right. Sometimes we even enlarge the problem. I would like to have a walk in that part of Scotland to see whether it is even better. Thanks very much for the comment! Michael

  6. Wonderful post – was in Dubrovnik before the war – very popular with us Swedes for years and I’m glad that it’s picking up again. Have Irish friends that went there for their honey moon 8 years ago and I could see then that it beauty is still intact. A truly beautiful old town … your photo gives it justice.

    • We had good weather but it was a bit too hot (mind you, I am coming from a sub-tropical climate) and lots of sunshine. If I were to visit it again, I would rather prefer Spring or Autumn. Thanks for your comment! Michael

  7. My one single greatest regret is that I never made it to Dubrovnik when I traveled Europe in college. I had it in my mind that I was a Serb and therefore decided to detest all things Croat (I was young and stupid then–now I am no longer young). What a mistake. I am determined to make it there someday and your excellent piece has served to strengthen my resolve….

    • Like it or not, globilization has now sets in. People of different country now shares a lot in common. Apart from visa requirements, it is now almost a borderless world. Glad that you like my post and thank you for your candid comment! Michael

  8. Wonderful photos and commentary. I have been to Dubrovnik, but now I want to return to walk the walls and to see the breathtaking scenery from their viewpoint. You have brought it to life. Thank you. Blessings from Lizzie Joy

    • Hi Ioanna, I particularly like the seaward section of the wall and hope to post about it in the future. Many thanks for perusing the artcle! Regards, Michael

  9. Your photos of the wall are lovely, captured many of the views from a different viewpoint – Great! You should congratulate your father-in-law, as he did walk a grand total of 1080 steps on the wall. Please may I make one small correction, you entered the old town via the ‘Pile’ (pee-leh) gate. Thank you for sharing.

    • Hi Dubrovniklady, thanks for pointing out the incorrectness of the name of the gate; this is now corrected. While typing, I think I was thinking of Plitvice which I love so much. Also, I didn’t know the grand total of 1080 steps, my information was taken from the internet. Obviously, as a local, your information is more accurate. Thanks very much for the encouraging comment! Regards,

    • Your comments were wonderful and I am pleased you enjoyed your visit here. Please do return, there are many more hidden gems to explore.

  10. Michael, thanks for liking my post. These are great photos of such beautiful scenery! I’m also amazed at how great of shape your FIL seems to be in.

    • Hi abradbury, actually, my FIL swims everyday during the summer but is hesistant to walk up and (espcially) down which is understandable. You have a great blog and I will be back. Regards, Michael

  11. Lovely photos… Hope it is not TOO hot (assuming you are still there now?) – just spoke with a friend in Athens who said it is 46 Celsius and all his balcony plants are dying… but I guess you’re a bit further north….

    • Hi Lane, we are no longer there. It was up beyond 30 celsius when we were there. Maybe due to global warming, the weather is becoming more extreme and hot making some of the summer months no longer attractive for travelling. Thanks for the encouraging comment! Michael

  12. Hi Michael 🙂 You gave me goosebumps with this post :). I don’t know if you remember, but I grew up in Dubrovnik and the first 4 years of my life I spent a lot of time just below Minceta 😀 and then took that little bridge almost every day of my life there :). This is a very informed post (you did your homework), a bit of clarification maybe .. The old Ragusa Republic was never in war with anybody and nobody was a real threat 😉 cause they were very clever and diplomatic in preserving their territory, At some point it was more powerful than the Republic of Venice too… and we lasted for centuries until the arrival of Napoleon .. but I am sure your guide told you all that 🙂

    • Hi Paula, I remember you talked about spending part of your childhood in Dubrovnik; hope this post brings back some fond memories. I didn’t know about the part on Regusa Republic that it has never been at war etc; thanks very much for the information. We didn’t buy any travel books or have any guides on the trip; we have taken this trip quite casually and just took things as they come up. The information in my post is mostly researched from internet, I am glad that you are able to come up with more detailed information. Thanks for your excellent comment! Regards, Michael

    • You are welcome Michael, I should be the one to say “thanks”. I see in your post a lot of fondness of my country… and you managed to make me like it more 😉

  13. Reblogged this on closetoeighty and commented:
    This is a period of great holidays! I went through several Michael’s posts and received great pleasure doing so. Finally I chose this post to reblog as I believe that you will take it as I did (as a very good holiday gift from Michael Lai). Thank you, Michael! Happy Holidays!

    • Hi Hajara, I also have a post on “Challenge of Travelling”, about my FIL overcoming his fears in travelling – it was one of the posts with many Likes, you may wish to read it as well. I am using a Fuji X100. Thank you 🙂

    • Fantastic! Will read that! Well done you! You make retirement look very attractive- with interesting activity and growth! Thanks for the camera name, I use my iPhone but after seeing your photos, I think it’ll be great to upgrade to a proper camera.

  14. Michael, what a wonderful blog and gorgeous pictures. I am 57 years old and going on my dream vacation to Croatia in May 2014. I am not in the best of shape and frankly, I am terrified of heights, so reading about your FIL making it up (and down) all of those steep stairs in Dubrovnik, plus seeing that some of the stairs have handrails have allayed some of my fears, even though I’m still nervous, but if your FIL can do it, so can I. (I’m also going to Hvar) Thank you so much for this info and your kindness to your FIL. Hope I’m with people who are just as kind.

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