The geographical position is about rather permanent things such as the land form, the climate, and its strategic importance. Periods and styles just come and go. There are only a few places in Dubrovnik from which we won’t be able to see the heavy rock massive of the surrounding mountains and islands. On the other hand, there are not so many places in the world where we can witness such a triumph of architecture over nature as here when we look from the outside at the Dubrovnik city walls. The cultivated landscapes of Dubrovnik are great examples of how human activity has changed nature.
Once you enter through the city gates you will find yourself looking at the beautiful Onofrio Fountain, the favorite meeting place of the city youth. Perhaps the most beautiful and interesting monument of this part of the Old City is the Franciscan Monastery built in the late medieval period. It is one of the finest and most harmonious examples of Gothic and Romanesque architecture in Dubrovnik. The church of the monastery is often a venue for various concerts throughout the year. As you walk on, you will find yourself on the most famous and beloved Dubrovnik city street, Stradun. With its numerous souvenir shops, galleries, coffee bars and restaurants, Stradun is never quiet. As you make your way through the crowd, you can enjoy in the performances of many street entertainers.
When you are infront of Dubrovnik you will see three entrances to Dubrovnik City walls. First entrance is located on the western side of the City at the very end of Placa (Stradun) street just across the Big Onfrio’s fountain next to the Church of Holy Savior, to the left. The second entrance is located at the eastern part of the City close to the inner Ploce Gate and the third entrance to the City walls is located at the back side of St. John Fortress and the entrance to the Maritime museum. This third entrance is a bit tricky to find as you need to go behind Dubrovnik Cathedral to the south, climb the small staircase and turn left into a vaulted street. These are really specific entrances and they are the most important part of Dubrovnik’s history.
In the beginning of the 15th century a low semicircular bastion was built forward of the Dock Port. The newly built bastion effectively integrated as the outer wall of the Dock Fort. In the year 1500 the upgrade of old Gundulić started. This fort was sometimes called the Fort of St. John according to the nearby church. The old quadrilateral fort was upgraded into a much bigger fort with semicircular form and a pentagonal bastion in front.
In 1552, the merger of all bastions commenced in a grand upgrade of the whole fortification complex according to the designs of master architect Paskoje Miličević. Both forts, Gundulic fort and Dock fort, with their respective bastions were merged into a single building which got a new official name: “The fortress of St John at the Dock”. The merger was completed in 1557.
Today the large interior of the St John fortress houses the Maritime Museum and the Aquarium.
The top of Revelin features a huge stone-paved terrace, the largest in Dubrovnik. The terrace is sometimes used as a stage for many events of the Dubrovnik Summer Festival that takes place in Dubrovnik each year from July 10th to August 25th.
Also, the inside of the Revelin fortress was rearranged to serve as a night club thus a large part of Dubrovnik night life scene takes place at this ancient fortress with unique ambience. Different night life happenings also take place at Revelin night club: from rock concerts, techno and rave parties to exclusive entry parties, and normal night club evenings.
City GatesThe view from the spot where you first come out on top of the walls of Dubrovnik The present shape of the walls was defined in the 14th century after the city gained its full independence from Venetian suzerainty, but the peak of its construction lasted from the beginning of the 15th century until the latter half of the 16th century. Being constructed very solidly, the walls were generally unaffected by a strong earthquake occurring in 1667.The largest stimulus for continued development and emergency repairs and works of the Ragusan fortresses came as a result of the danger of unexpected attack by Turkish military forces, especially after they conquered Constantinople in 1453.
Land WallsThe main wall on the landside is 4 metres (13 ft) to 6 metres (20 ft) thick, and, at certain locations, the walls reach up to 25 meters (80 feet) in height. The land walls stretch from Fort Bokar in the west to the detached Revelin Fortress in the east. On the landside, the wall is protected with an additional range of slanted supporting walls as defense against artillery fire, especially against possible Ottoman attacks.The town has four city gates: two that lead to the harbor and two (with drawbridges) that lead to the mainland. During the time period when the Austrian Empire controlled the city, two more gates were opened in the wall. Communication with the outside world on the land side was maintained with the city through two main well-protected city gates, one placed on the western side of the city and the other placed on the eastern side. These entrances were constructed so that communications with the city could not be carried out directly; the messenger had to enter through multiple doors and walk down a winding passageway, which is evidence of the security measures taken as a last defense against the possibility of a surprise breach or entrance of unexpected visitors.
Gate of Pile
The Pile Gates are a well-fortified complex with multiple doors, defended by Fort Bokar and the moat that ran around the outside section of the city walls.
At the entrance gate to the Old Town, on the western side of the land walls, there is a stone bridge between two Gothic arches, which were designed by the esteemed architect Paskoje Miličević in 1471. That bridge connects to another bridge, a wooden drawbridge which can be pulled up.During the republican era, the wooden drawbridge to the Pile Gate was hoisted each night with considerable pomp in a ceremony which delivered the city’s keys to the Ragusan rector.
Today, it spans a dry moat whose garden offers respite from crowds.
Above the bridges, over the arch of town’s principal gateway, there is a statue of city patron Saint Blaise (Croatian: Sveti Vlaho), with a model of the Renaissance city. After passing the Pile Gate’s original Gothic inner gateway, it is possible to reach one of a three access points to the city walls.
On the eastern side of the land walls stands the second major entrance to the city, the Gate of Ploče. This gate is protected by the freestanding Revelin Fortress, which are connected by a wooden drawbridge and a twin-spanned stone bridge spanning a protective ditch.
The Outer Gate of Ploče was designed and constructed by architect Mihajlo Hranjac in 1628, while the two bridges to the Revelin Fortress were built in the 15th century by Paskoje Miličević. Miličević was also designed the Pile Gate bridges, which explains the similarities between the bridges.
Over the bridge, just like with the Gate of Pile, there is the statue of Saint Blaise, the patron saint of Dubrovnik
The Gate of Buža (meaning “hole”) is located on the northern side of the land walls. This gate is relatively new compared to the other gates, as it was constructed during the early 1900s.