City Walls and Forts of Dubrovnik
A visit to Dubrovnik can only be considered complete with a stroll along the city walls. These walls encompass the historic centre and provide breathtaking old town and the Adriatic Sea vistas. The striking contrast between the pinkish-grey stone and the azure waters is captivating when seen from the sea. When viewed from above, the church spires and terracotta rooftops create a magical environment that could very well be taken straight out of a fairy tale or even a scene from Game of Thrones.
Walls first enclosed the city in the 9th century. In the 14th century, 15 square forts fortified the 1.5m-thick defences. The threat of attacks from the Turks in the 15th century prompted the addition of new fortresses, enclosing the entire old town within a 2km-long, 25m-high stone barrier. The walls range from 1.5m to 3m thick on the seaside and up to 6m wide on the land.
Historically, two elaborate gates were used to enter the city: the Pile Gate to the west and the Ploče Gate to the east. At sunset, drawbridges were raised, doors were locked, and keys were handed to the rector. In 1907, the northern wall gained an additional entrance, the Buža Gate, at the top of Boškovićeva Street.
The Pile Gate, built in 1537, is the most impressive of the three gates and remains Dubrovnik's main entrance. It features a stone Statue of St Blaise, the city's patron saint, holding the city in his hands, set in a niche over the Renaissance portal. Similar images of the saint are positioned in various parts of the wall and above all the major entrances. After passing through the outer gate, visitors enter a large courtyard with a ramp and stairs leading to the inner gate, which dates back to 1460 and is topped by a statue of St Blaise by leading Croatian sculptor Ivan Meštrović (1883–1962).
Fort Minčeta, Fort Bokar, and Fort Lawrence are fortifications protecting the city from land and sea invasions. The walls of Fort Lawrence range from 13ft to 39ft (4m to 12m) thick and offer a stunning view of the old town.
Fort Revelin is the largest of the old town forts. It sits separately from the city walls, overlooking the Old Harbour and the eastern entrance to the old town. The massive battlement of Fort St John dates back to the 16th century, but you may be able to spot the outline of the original square tower, built in 1346, that predated it. You can take pictures of cannons along the upper terrace during a city walls walk, but you'll need separate tickets to visit the attractions within.
Ticketed entrances to the city walls near the Pile Gate, the Ploče Gate, and the Maritime Museum exist. To reduce congestion, visitors must walk the walls in an anticlockwise direction. During busy times, it can resemble a slow-moving conga line. However, the stunning views over the old town and the Adriatic Sea are worth the wait.
Hidden gardens and courtyards in Dubrovnik's residential fringes are charmingly revealed during the walk. Starting from the Ploče Gate entrance, St Luke's Tower (1467), facing the Old Harbour and Fort Revelin, is quickly reached. The highest section of the northern, landward wall is rounded Fort Minčeta at the city's northwestern corner, completed in 1464 to designs by Juraj Dalmatinac, most famous as the creator of Šibenik's extraordinary cathedral. The battlements at the top provide remarkable views over the old town's rooftops. Bright new terracotta on some rooftops was required after shelling damage in the 1990s.
From Pile Gate, the path narrows to single file as you climb towards Fort Bokar at the city's southwestern corner. Along the seaward stretch of the walls, several cafe bars and souvenir stores terminate at Fort St John at the entrance to Dubrovnik's Old Harbour.
Games of Thrones
Dubrovnik's walls and forts have been shown in the popular series Game of Thrones. They have become landmarks that have brought joy and excitement to fans worldwide. Fort Minčeta, Fort Lawrence, and the seaward-facing walls have played integral roles in some of the most iconic scenes in the show. They serve as a reminder of the power of storytelling and the magic of film.
Get Your Tickets
Tickets can be purchased at the gate, but you will save the queue if you buy in advance online. Remember to consider the difficulty of the wall walk, especially on a hot day. There is little shade, and the few merchants offering water along the path tend to overcharge.