Thursday, June 30, 2011

Running in Croatia #2: fortified Dubrovnik

The old city of Dubrovnik is a jewel for its architectural unity and the consistency of its renovation. Not only it had to cope with centuries of tumultuous history but also been rebuilt after the recent Homeland War (1991-1995) which destroyed several buildings (fires) and many roofs (bombs). But, it is such a touristic asset that the Croats worked hard and the buildings are so well restored, from the narrow back streets to the impressive city wall, and apart from the tourist crowd, it’s like you are transported back in time, centuries ago (same feeling I got when visiting the Palace of Diocletian in Split).

Pictures are still uploading as I post this blog on a slow connection in Zagreb, but you can already see a few in my Picasa album.
If you are stopping by Dubrovnik on a cruise, a very popular destination with huge cruise ships in and out every day (in around 8:30 AM and leaving by 4 or 5 PM), and want to “escape” the confinement of the boat running a few miles, then you want to aim at Lapad which hosts a small natural park, Petka, which you will catch from one of the steep and narrow streets behind the Hotel Komodor (Savska or Dunavska then Ivanska), situated on the laguna between Babin Kuk and Lapad.
At the end of the peninsula of Lapad’s, you will discover the upscale Dubrovnik Palace on the North West end. On the South side you’ll find a few unmaintained trails getting to the top of an impressive 400-feet cliff. I spent about an hour trying to find a trail along the cliff, getting my legs lacerated by bushes. I eventually returned on the fire road, then up to the radio or TV relay culminating at close to 600 feet (Velika Petka, 192 meters). Still looking for views over the old city, I continued on the fire road and ended up at the city hospital (Opca Bolnica Dubrovnik) which I crossed to get on Liechtensteineov Put before going through the Boninovo area along the sea, down toward Dubrovnik Grad (the old and fortified city).
With the crowd in the old city, I don’t recommend entering the city walls to run inside, nor running on the walls (2 kilometers, 70Kn fee). You should do it before or after your run. If you stay in Dubrovnik, you actually want to avoid the morning when several thousands of tourists get to the old city at the same time from the ships.
From the North entrance of the old city, you will spot a narrow and steep staired street (Put Od Srda) which gets you to the main touristic road you entered the city from by car (Jadranska Turisticka Cesta). There, you’ll have to turn left (toward North/Split), run/walk for a few hundreds yards and pay attention to the traffic before crossing to get on a stair on the other side (no indication/signage but the trail starts on the other side of the N. Kulsilica street). This is the winding trail going up to “Sv. Srd” for amazing views of the city at 1,200 feet.
The other option to get to this unique panoramic spot is to drive through the small village of Bosanka (South-East of Dubrovnik) or take the cable car from downtown. At the top of the mountain is a fort which was central to Dubrovnik’s resistance during the Homeland War. It actually hosts today an exhibit on these deadly and dark 5 years (1991-1995).
I came back to my starting point in Babin Kuk taking the road through Bosanka (another area to find quiet trails) and going through Dubrovnik and along the harbour (Gruz) to complete a 15-mile convulated loop around and across this historical city which, outside of the small fortified place, looks like a cheaper and tiny version of Monaco, with buildings hanging on balconies created on this steep and rough cliff.


Unknown said...

I'm in Dubrovnik in August for a week. We re looking for a 4 or 5 mike loop run to do a few times while there. Can you recommend a route? I'm doing the Robin Hood Marathon in Sept again (Nottingham, our local event), and she's doing the half.
Thanks. Dont worry if you can't. Just caught your blog when searching for running in D.

Jean Pommier said...

Thanks for visiting, Ian, glad you can also enjoy Dubrovnik this summer. I added the map of my tour of the area (make sure to click on the image at the bottom of the post to enlarge). I would not call that a recommended route, but that can give you some inspiration to create your own (in addition to the tips I included in the original post).

And good luck to both of you with your marathon!

Unknown said...

Thats great, thank you very much. I'll print tha off along with your blog post. Good luck with your next adventure!

Big Tel said...

Been doing 7 milers each day, the heat is amazing, enjoyed reading your blog. Will try the Hill on the south side tomorrow, can see it from my hotel. The path round past the Dubrovnik Palace is good, then from the end of the Harbour climb towards the Old City then before Decending into Old City turn and follow back road back to Cruise Port and then back round to Lapud. Nice early run.

Jean Pommier said...

Very cool you found this post, Big Tel, and left a comment to let me know! Enjoy your running adventures!