Europe, Croatia, Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik, Croatia’s jewel

No Comments 7 August 2010

Dubrovnik, Croatia’s jewel

With its limestone walls and stunning setting between sea and mountains, Dubrovnik is a treasure of a city. The Monkey made his way there overland from Bulgaria back in 2002.

Dubrovnik, Croatia
Peering through a window in the walls that make it famous, the Monkey looks out over the red tile roofs of the fairy-tale city of Dubrovnik. Today the most visited destination in Croatia, Dubrovnik was for much of its history an independent city-state called Ragusa. Founded in the 8th century, by the 15th Century Ragusa had become a major trading power in the Adriatic. Protected for centuries by its massive walls, the “Dubrovnik Republic” pursued trade with many of the medieval powers of Eastern Europe, including the Byzantines, the Magyars, the Venetians, and the Ottomans.

In particular, Venice had a strong influence on Dubrovnik’s character as a result of the period after the 13th Century Crusades when Venice ran Ragusa’s affairs for over 150 years. Napoleon’s armies conquered Ragusa in 1806 and the Republic was abolished two years later. The Congress of Vienna (1815) annexed Dubrovnik to Austria’s Empire until 1918, when the city passed into the proto-Yugoslav Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, from whence its associations with Croatia became more and more pronounced. During the wars that broke up Yugoslavia, Dubrovnik was shelled by Yugoslav Federal forces, damaging some of the city’s monuments. Today, restored to its former glory by an influx of tourism income and international aid, Dubrovnik is once again an Adriatic treasure.

Flag, Dubrovnik, Croatia
The Monkey and the Croatian flag catch a breeze atop Dubrovnik’s city walls.

Dubrovnik, Croatia
The Monkey rests after climbing one of Dubrovnik’s narrow, hilly alleys. In these backstreets, you can find shades of Dubrovnik untouched by the mass tourism that has overrun much of the city. Here families put their undergarments out to dry in the baking sun, and Croatian children practice football in the hopes of becoming the next Davor Suker.

Of course, cute cafés and quiet restaurants are never far away in this part of Dubrovnik, and on one such street, if you know where to look, you can find an old and well-hidden Jewish synagogue.

Placa, Dubrovnik, Croatia
The Monkey looks down from the city walls onto Dubrovnik’s Placa, the city’s main thoroughfare. The Placa was originally a narrow channel of water that separated the exile Epidaurian Greek settlement on the island of Laus (formerly the land to the right of the wide street) from the Slav community of Dub (to the left). Once the canal was filled in during the 12th Century, the two settlements were joined and Ragusa was born. Construction on the famous walls began shortly after the channel was filled in.

View of Dubrovnik from above, Croatia
The Monkey climbed one of the hills that squeezes Dubrovnik against the sea, where he paused for this photo looking back on the city below. You can see a boat leaving the city’s walled harbor, probably headed for the isle of Lokrum, where the Monkey went next.

This Monkey adventure has been viewed 1356 times since the 2010 website relaunch.



View Larger Map


4,491,543 (2008)

Land area:

56,414 sq. km.


Zagreb (pop. 930,753; 2005)


In 2006, Croatia ranked 45th in the UNDP Human Development Index and 58th in total GDP, with a per capita GDP of $9,611.68. Public debt accounts for 47.8 percent of total GDP, while 11 percent of Croats are beneath the poverty line.

Main language(s):


Monkey's name:

Majmun (my-moon)

Fun fact:

Two inventions for which the world owes the Croats credit are the necktie and the radio. The former evolved from a silk scarf worn by Croat sailors (dubbed the “cravate”), and the latter was developed by the Croat inventor Nikola Tesla, though many have erroneously credited Italian engineer Guglielmo Marconi with the creation of the radio.

Your Comments

No Comments

Share your view

Post a comment

Submit the word you see below:

Notify me of follow-up comments?

Get involved

Volunteering makes a difference. Even an hour of volunteer work per week can help nonprofits and community causes achieve success. Why not look for a volunteer opportunity by searching, Global Volunteer Network, or UN Volunteers?

No time to volunteer? Even a minor donation to can support critical projects in communities around the world.

Or why not become a microlender via Lend to a person in need, and watch as they achieve their aims and repay your loan.

Recommended reading

A Concise Historical Atlas of Eastern Europe
Dennis P. Hupchick and Harold E. Cox (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1996)
Any traveler knows the importance of a good map. This handy book provides a slew of historical maps that help illuminate the complicated contours of the various Balkan empires and states, providing a foundation for deeper understanding of Eastern European history.

Balkan Ghosts: A Journey Through History
Robert D. Kaplan (New York: Vintage, 1993)
Covering his travels in 1980s Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, and Yugoslavia, Kaplan wrote this politically tinged book on the cusp of the changes that would envelop the post-Cold War Balkans.

The Balkans: A Short History
Mark Mazower (New York: Modern Library Paperback, 2002)
As the title says, a short history of the Balkan region. A helpful intro to this corner of Europe.

The Balkans: Nationalism, War, and the Great Powers, 1804-1999
Misha Glenny (New York: Penguin, 2001)
A rather epic undertaking by a former BBC correspondent for Central Europe, this book traces the tumultuous two centuries of the Balkan states’ struggles for independence from the Ottoman Empire, the emergence of pan-Slavic tendencies and their tribulations, and the reign of various regimes of the right and left during the 20th Century. A worthwhile read—don’t let its dimensions frighten you…

Café Europa: Life After Communism
Slavenka Drakulic (New York: Penguin, 1996)
An interesting read that captures a Balkan perspective on the early days after the Fall of the Wall, and in the midst of the break-up of Yugoslavia. Croatian Drakulic is a witty writer and tackles issues including memory, guilt, national identity, and the influx of the West’s crass commercialism.

Description of a Struggle: The Vintage Book of Contemporary Eastern European Writing
Editor: Michael March (New York: Vintage Books, 1994: Out of print)
A great anthology of short stories from the former Eastern Bloc, providing an evocative snap shot of the early post-Cold War era. Stories are organized by state, with the Bulgarian Victor Paskov’s tale of “Romanian” exiles in the Paris Metro a particular highlight.

The Impossible Country: A Journey Through the Last Days of of Yugoslavia
Brian Hall (New York: Penguin, 1994)
Hall’s travelogue traces his visits to key places in 1991 Yugoslavia, just as the country begins to disintegrate along ethno-national lines. The foreboding sense of imminent violence drips from every page.

To Kill a Nation: The Attack on Yugoslavia
Michael Parenti (London: Verso, 2000)
In a fiery tome, Parenti makes the case that Yugoslavia’s disintegration was a deliberate result of Western policy, carried out by NATO guns and the privatizing forces of Western economic interests. A book that challenges many of the preconceptions about Yugoslavia and NATO’s interventions there.

© 2002-2018