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Croatia: An Adriatic Escape

When all is said and done, it may be Dubrovnik’s colors that you remember most.

The best way to see Dubrovnik for the first time is at night, when the medieval walls of the Old Town are burnished to a golden sheen by the light of a full moon. Then view it during the day, when the walls, in a sort of reverse alchemy, change from gold to silver under the glare of a harsh sun and the waters of the Adriatic shimmer like jade-colored silk.

At sunset, the palette changes again: The water turns from jade to turquoise, and the sky is painted in ribbons of pink, coral and pale blue.

The colors of Dubrovnik are part of the tapestry of Croatia, a country that endured more than its share of struggle in the late 20th century but that has emerged as one of the jewels of Eastern Europe. Intrepid groups that venture to Croatia will enjoy not only its capital city, but also the numerous scenic towns and islands along its Adriatic coast.


A Resilient City

There was a time when it seemed that this magnificent UNESCO Word Heritage city, at the southern tip of Croatia and dubbed the Pearl of the Adriatic, would be lost.

After managing to stay independent in the Middle Ages by appeasing both the Ottoman Empire and the Venetian Republic, Dubrovnik became a casualty during the breakup of Yugoslavia six centuries later.

At the height of the crisis, for seven months in 1991 and 1992, the city was besieged by Serbian and Montenegrin forces, which subjected it to relentless shelling. Some 2,000 shells fell on the Old City, severely damaging buildings and roofs, but somehow leaving the walls unscathed. Reconstruction began almost immediately after the hostilities ceased, following UNESCO guidelines.

Visitors would be unaware of the punishment inflicted on Dubrovnik unless they looked closely at the building facades, with their patchwork of old and new stone, or the vivid red-orange roof tiles that have replaced the damaged ones. Or perhaps they could tell if they studied the map near the city gate that pinpoints all the places artillery shells hit during the siege.