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It would take an army of Hollywood special-effects experts to design a set as perfect and pure as Dubrovnik, and a team of creative stagehands to build it. Yet this "city made of stone and light" is as strong and magnificent as the shimmering sunsets that ricochet off its 14th-century ramparts. It is as ethereal as the foam on the azure waves caressing the land beneath them. In short: This UNESCO World Heritage city is a stunner.

 

Dubrovnik began as a Roman settlement. From the Middle Ages on it was a prize sought by Venice, Hungary, Turkey, and others who recognized the city's logistical value as a maritime port. But Libertas (Liberty) has always been uppermost in the minds of Dubrovnik's citizens, and through the ages their thirst for independence repeatedly trumped other nations' plans to conquer their city.

 

Inside Dubrovnik's walls, the pedestrian-only Old Town once again resembles a glistening marble world stage bustling with people from far and near. Here you will find almost all the Dubrovnik sights worth seeing--historic churches and public buildings, designer shops and homey restaurants, ancient sculptures and modern galleries, fountains and bell towers, monasteries and gardens--and the most famous of all, the ancient city wall and its towers. Today's Dubrovnik attracts visitors from all socio-economic levels and corners of the world, whether they are student backpackers, ultrarich celebrities, or anyone in between.