An elegant mix of styles
A walled, sea-battered city lying at the foot of a grizzled mountain, Dubrovnik is Croatia’s most popular cruise destination, and it’s not difficult to see why. Waiting to be valued on an MSC Mediterranean cruise excursion its essentially medieval town was reshaped by Baroque planners after a disastrous earthquake of 1667; Dubrovnik’s historic core seems to have been suspended in time ever since.
Walk through the city and admire the Cathedral of the Assumption of Mary, inside there are a couple of Italian paintings, including Titian’s polyptych The Assumption behind the main altar. Immediately south of Luža – the square centre of the medieval town – is the Rector’s Palace, former seat of the Ragusan government.
The current palace is a masterpiece of serene proportion, fringed by an ornate arcaded loggia held up by columns with delicately carved capitals. Entered via a narrow passageway is the fourteenth century Franciscan monastery, whose late Romanesque cloister is decorated with rows of double arches topped by a confusion of human heads and fantastic animals.
You can admire the prettiest corners of Dubrovnik before boarding the boat for Sveti Jakov beach, a smallish stretch of pebble at the bottom of a cliff on the Mediterranean, reached by steps which descend from the coastal path midway between St Jacobs’s Monastery and the Belvedere hotel. Fantastic views backtowards the Old Town. West-facing, so catches the afternoon and evening sun, amazing to relax in the sun on your holiday.
Some 20km south of Dubrovnik stretches the Konavle, a ribbon of fertile agricultural land squeezed between the mountains on one side and the sea on the other. It is a restfully scenic place to drive through, and offers a couple of rewarding village stop offs to boot; traditionally the Konavle formed the rural hinterland of the Dubrovnik Republic, keeping the city supplied with fresh victuals.