In terms of land area and population, the Dubrovnik-Neretva County is one of the smallest in the Dalmatian region. Yet due to its strategic location, it has been the cause of disputes amongst past rulers and marine powers for centuries, from the Romans to the Ottomans to the Habsburgs.
Apart from its historic and cultural significance, the county is also an important source of agricultural products, including grapes, apples, cherries, olives and olive oil. And though Dubrovnik’s economy was seriously affected by the Homeland War, tourism remains an important source of the county’s income.
Dubrovnik, the county seat and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is its most famous attraction. The old port city was an important centre of naval power in the Mediterranean. Though it was damaged by an earthquake and the more recent homeland conflict, it managed to preserve much of its Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture. It is now one of the top tourist destinations in Croatia.
Set on a rocky promontory overlooking the Adriatic Sea, the city of Dubrovnik is pleasantly bathed in sunshine for most of the year, with the waters warm enough for swimming from April to October. Orange and lemon trees add colour to its landscape, while sailboats, yachts and cruise ships adorn the bay.
The city has not always been this peaceful. Dubrovnik’s desirable location as a naval port has long been the cause of battles for control of the city. As recently as the early 1990s, it was bombed by the Yugoslav People’s Army. But despite experiencing wars and a major earthquake in 1667, the city has been able to recover and preserve much of its architectural beauty. The Old Town is particularly stunning with its terracotta-roofed, white marble buildings.
Some visitors start to consider moving to Dubrovnik when they have experienced being guests of a “sobe”, or a private home. The city’s popularity has hiked up the cost of hotel accommodations, and sobes are a great way of saving money while staying in Dubrovnik and experiencing its way of life.
Korcula Island is beautifully green, with vineyards, olive groves, and pine-covered coasts on the Adriatic. Sleepy most of the year, it awakens with yachts and a multitude of tourists in summertime.
The island’s stone-walled old town of Korcula is shaped like a fish bone, a design that helps minimize the damaging effects of sun and wind. The old town’s narrow streets are sprinkled with historical buildings—medieval towers, Venetian palaces, the Gothic-Renaissance cathedral, Baroque and Neoclassical churches, and 1930s villas.
This popular travel destination is known for its excellent white wines and the colourful street performance of the Moreska Sword Dance, a traditional “fighting dance” that tells the story of an abducted princess and the battle to get her back.