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On the southern end of Croatia's Adriatic coast, Dubrovnik staked its claim to glory during the 450 years it existed as the independent Ragusan Republic, shoulder to shoulder with mighty forces like Venice and the Ottoman Empire. Once a renowned seafaring, shipbuilding and trading center, today it's an enchanting tourist destination. Dubrovnik seduces sightseeing visitors with its polished (and very clean!) limestone streets, theatrical architecture, charming
café, welcoming restaurants and distinctive shops along scenic side streets. The natural backdrop, much of which is protected, consists of pine and cypress forests and the shimmering Adriatic, dotted with uninhabited islands. Visitors quickly discover that the wider Dubrovnik area is just as striking as its main attraction—the Old Town.
A wander around the historic heart of Dubrovnik can hit the main sights, but take it a step further (or a staircase further, really), and you'll see that people do still live in the historic quarter, even though its polished streets make it look like a museum. You may catch the sound of a piano from the High School of Music and Arts, or hear the Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra rehearsing in the Revelin Fortress, or encounter school kids on a break. Life unrolls as you stroll past.