Among the world's 10 best preserved medieval walled cities is the beautiful seaside port of Dubrovnik, Croatia. Sitting on the coast of the sparkling mediterranean sea, Dubrovnik served in ancient times as a resting port for ships at night.
The “Old Town”, as they call it, with its red roofs and creamy beige architecture, is entirely surrounded by walls up to 25 meters high. Often and repeatedly under attack for control by many neighboring states, it's turbulent history involved a great fire that destroyed nearly the whole city in 1296 and a month long siege by the Napoleon Army that led to 3,000 cannonballs being fired onto the city. Today though, the Old Town has been restored in all its glory.
Stepping foot inside the "Old Town" felt a bit magical. With nearly all the original architecture intact, I stood there envisioning how life would have been back hundreds of years ago, the people that crossed this very same street everyday...sailing, trading, living. Would they have been all that different from you and me?
There were gorgeous, wonderfully preserved churches, villas, shops, and sea ports. Even the oldest pharmacy in Europe that dated back to the 1300s...
and palaces with magnificent architectural designs.
Unsurprisingly, Dubrovnik’s greatest achievements were in the field of marine technology and sea trade. Ivan Rblijanin once lived there as one of the most famous cannon and bell founders of his time. Sea chests made in city boasted some of strongest and most advanced locking systems. Huge fleets of merchant ships called Argosies travelled all over the world, founding even some settlements in India and America.
Unfortunately, as many treasured old cities and cultures around the world, Dubrovnik has become increasing touristic. For the first time, I finally understood why history was so important.
Increasing globalization, especially in cities today in Asia, has so quickly erased memories of our past. Culture and civilization will forever be changing, and waves of technology and innovation will inevitably destroy in their paths cultures and past ways of life. And so it's imperative that we pass along stories of the past and where we came from, and do everything possible to preserve and remember. Otherwise everything will forever be lost.
Despite Dubrovnik’s turbulent history, the city itself always aspired to live in peace and freedom. It believed in free trade, with its ships sailing a white flag with the Latin word for freedom, Libertas. Even its prison system was seen as quite revolutionary as some captives were only imprisoned during the day and was allowed to return home at night to their families.
Today, the city is now protected in UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites and has a steady population of about 42,000 with tens of thousands of visitors per day.