Patterns in Lines: Dubrovnik

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Once through the enormous and dramatic fortified gate in Dubrovnik’s wall, we were drawn effortlessly along its stunning Main Street by the endless line of the gutters. I was captivated by the patterns and lines of these ancient cobbles, which seemed to lead away into infinity along an impossibly straight long street. The scale of the place left me breathless and in awe, and I was drawn irresistibly back and back to this line which defined the road beautifully. So we followed it.

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At the other end the view back was just as incredible, and again defined by this wonderful ancient gutter. The historic cobbles themselves are magnetic in their appeal, polished so smooth by countless centuries of hooves and feet that they shimmer in the sun like water. I loved the long afternoon shadows drawn across the street, and the way the worn stones cast reflections back up skywards. The stone patterns, held between the lines of the gutters, held the warmth of the days sun, and bounced sound and light into mesmerising shapes. I was enchanted by the stones of Dubrovnik beneath my feet. The beauty of a straight line shot through the muddled patterns of medieval streets, and all contained by towering stone walls.

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Golden rose petals scattered over a new brides head lay wilting in the late heat of a giant arch. Recent history carelessly littering the ancient stones. Layers of history had worn so deeply across these streets that they mirrored the world back at itself. Every story imaginable about humanity had played out here, and passion and violence still seem to linger in the air. The stones themselves bear witness with their shrapnel and bullet marks scaring the perfect patterns.

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Shops in medieval buildings, still looking out at the passing river of people, as they have done for centuries. Some things don’t change, only the clothes and their shifting fashions give away the passage of time.

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Tucked away behind the church at the gateway in, lies an ancient place of healing. The air of these cloisters is still sweetly scented by fresh flowers and aromatic oils being mixed into lotions and balms. The oldest working pharmacy in Europe has been offering cures and relief to all who can pay for hundreds of years. The monks hand written recipes and prescriptions are displayed in worn leather books among scales and bottles, instantly transporting us to another time. It’s as though you can see the wrinkled sun worn hands measuring out ingredients to waiting clients, the past feels very close and present. High in the walls of the pharmacy is a hole, covered now with Perspex, where a missile punched through destroying what had endured centuries of time. Only 20 years ago this beautiful city suffered unimaginable violence and destruction.

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We climbed away from the streets, high onto the protective walls of the city. The late afternoon sun was casting rays in low angles around towers and roofs, and a slight sea breeze offered relief from the building heat. Polished almost as smooth as the cobbles below, this path wrapped itself around the old edges of the place, offering unusual views and angles.

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The lines of the red tiled roofs made patterns within the walls, and I could easily imagine running wild and free across these rooftops. They were so tightly clustered, gathered like a posy of wild flowers, that it was hard to even make out any streets. The roofs spilled away towards the far wall and the ocean beyond.

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Running away from the wide street which cuts through the heart of Dubrovnik, lies a warren of passages and tunnels, twisting and turning in random and confusing shapes. Doors, windows and courtyards suddenly present themselves in unexpected places. Where everything was laid bare and open on the main road, here nothing is obvious and only by looking, exploring and opening can you discover anything. The cobbles here swirl into curves and patterns which invite us forwards.

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But I’m drawn back moth like to the astonishingly straight lines of the street as the sun sets and shadows rise from these ancient stones. Lights flicker into life, and the sounds and shapes of night are reflected from the lines and patterns of old Dubrovnik. It has captured my heart with its passion and it’s sizeable drama.

Take a look at more patterns in lines at this week photo challenge

Click on any image to see it in its full detailed glory

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About greenmackenzie

Hi, I'm Seonaid, and I share my home with my husband, my son and a collection of cats and dogs. I am forever snapping shots of things which catch my eye. I love art which is here now and gone tomorrow...like food and nature...but also have a passion for vintage and the ancient past! Nature is my favourite muse, with her wild ever shifting seasons. I have been using and teaching mindfulness and relaxation for over 12 years, and have yet to become any sort of expert :-) I'm a Psychotherapist, and run the Maggies Highlands Cancer Centre, in Inverness, Scotland.
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67 Responses to Patterns in Lines: Dubrovnik

  1. Paula says:

    I would like to teach you one thing ๐Ÿ™‚ This main street in the old town is called “stradun” . Strada is the name for street in Italian. Funny how so many words from Italian have crept in and Dubrovnik was in the past a republic totally separate from the rest of the territory that now belongs to Croatia and was never under Venice (our invaders in the past), never under Turks. The only ones that ceased with our liberty were the French ๐Ÿ˜‰ The language (Croatian) as we speak today came from Dubrovnik – it was taken as standard. I don’t know if these things interest you, I am sharing them cause they make me feel proud of my roots ๐Ÿ˜‰ Once again, thank you. I am proud of you too for taking such beautiful photos of my town of origin ๐Ÿ™‚

    • I’m delighted to learn all this history….some of it I had heard….but lots is new and I’m always fascinated by the past. You’re country has an amazing history and I learned that Venice and Dubrovnik were wealthy rivals in the past, so wonderful to think of all that luxurious trade moving over these waves from Istanbul.
      Thanks for giving me the name of the Main Street….I couldn’t find street sign names….and it doesn’t surprise me that Italy had a strong influence here. I’m so glad you like the post, because I was thinking of you as I wrote it ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Paula says:

        Thank you my lovely Seonaid,. if you need any information regarding the sights you’ve captured, I am here and I am most obliged. I was just a kid when I left the town to go back to Zagreb (capital) where I was actually born and I was aching to leave the place, but now it reminds of my childhood, and you have shown me something that is very dear to me ๐Ÿ™‚ In the past the town’s population was about 30,000 which meant that during our walks on Stradun we were bound to say hello to at least every third passer-by. It is a small place but with impressing history and culture. I hope you were let in into the Rector’s Palace and the Cathedral and the Church of St Blaise. During my recess in highschool I sneaked in almost every day to hear the organ music playing.. and now it is all coming back to me – greately cause of your photos ๐Ÿ˜‰ (sorry an emotional day :D)

  2. Paula says:

    P.S. here is a link to the music from Dubrovnik http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPcZtGC03WM

    • Beautifully emotional and dramatic music, just what I might have expected from such a passionate country. Thanks for sharing the link Paula. You were very lucky yo grow up within these wonderful old walls.

      • Paula says:

        I know that Seonaid ๐Ÿ™‚ Sometimes, one’s life starts so beautifully and then the worst things happen.. the war was horrible to this town.

      • That part of its history made me very sad, and I could feel it just under the surface. It’s tragic what human beings will do to each other, and to beautiful historic sites. However I felt that the people had risen with such dignity from the rubble and destruction of war. There was a fondness towards us as Scots, which I hadn’t expected ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Paula says:

        ๐Ÿ™‚ I am so happy that you could feel that ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ Did you stay in a hotel there, or you were on a cruise ship?

  3. Paula says:

    THANK YOU ๐Ÿ™‚ You’ve my eye wet with this one, Seonaid.

  4. What a beautiful city, photos and text. I am surprised that it looks pretty much like some places in Spain, the same type of stone, polished over hundreds of years by people passing by.

    • I think that’s true Rosa, it does have a Spanish feel with all that polished stone, and it also reminded me of some of Italy’s ancient cities. I suppose the same influences must have swept around the Mediterranean. I love old walled cities which have kept their medieval walls ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Suzanne says:

    An absolutely fascinating post. I especially liked the bit about the oldest pharmacy in Europe and I can see why the straight drains in the road fascinated you. It sounds like an incredible place to visit.

    • It really was even better than I had hoped, so full of character and dripping with history Suzanne. The pharmacy was so interesting, there was even a medical recipe book, written in Venice, for the King of England’s physician ……can’t remember which King, but from a long time ago ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. such a treat for me today…THREE posts of yours to catch up with! i’ve been wanting to go to dubrovnik for ages…your words and pictures made me want it even more. ๐Ÿ˜› i’ve been to sarajevo, though, and there they had painted the grenade craters on the streets to look like flowers.

    • Janna, I have just discovered your comments….and the ones following….don’t know what happened there, but thank you for the lovely words. Sarajevo sounds wonderful too, and what a creative way to recognise but soften the destructive marks of history ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge: From Lines to Patterns (3) | Through the Eye of Bastet

  8. Mary Mageau says:

    Great travel writing, illustrated by prose that soars and striking photographs.

  9. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge: From Lines to Patterns | wholeyjeans

  10. colonialist says:

    Incredibly impressive. You have really given us the atmosphere in words and pictures.
    How sad that such an idyllic place should have seen so much violence.

    • Indeed, but they have repaired it incredibly well. The give away is the number of fresh new tiles on the roofs which you spot as you walk around the walls. It’s so sad that neighbour can turn on neighbour, and it really can happen anywhere.
      I found the people were lovely though, and fell in love with the place ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Seonaid, as always another wonderful post. Especially drawn to this line–“polished so smooth by countless centuries of hooves and feet that they shimmer in the sun like water.”

    • Thank you John, the stones were fascinating, and they were incredibly polished in the centre section of the street. It almost looked wet it was so reflective. Glad you enjoyed the writing ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. wisejourney says:

    Smooth worn lines stretching though an ancient city….the petals in the gutter are my fave.

  13. shazza91321 says:

    Wow, I’m speechless.

  14. I had heard Dubrovnik was beautiful, but I can now see why it is so fascinating. Everything so polished, lines so neat and well finished, and palpable history. Thanks so much for sharing this with us all.

  15. Amar Naik says:

    beautifully captured the beauty of Croatia. enjoyed it

  16. mithriluna says:

    Stunning images and wonderful post! The stone walkways and streets are amazing. I especially love the picture of the arches in the cloister.

  17. Lynne Ayers says:

    Superb Seonaid, more beautiful photography and beautiful prose. Really good post.

  18. twoscamps says:

    Seonaid, your photos of Dubrovnik are fascinating! I love the different POV’s. Currently we are house sitting for a friend that is traveling there now. What a small world. -Maureen

    • Maureen, it really is a small world ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m certain your friends will have a wonderful trip, and I hope you enjoy the house sit. A holiday in itself.
      Lovely to hear that you enjoyed my POVs and resulting angles…..those lines, they were so entrancing and demanding of attention!

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  21. I have many friends who tell me about Croatia, and my husband has also visited…Now I have to go.

    What fantastic lines in buildings, roofs and soft stones, breathtaking. As usual you take us to a very special place and write about things interesting, things I didn’t know. I feel I’m walking with you.

    I think I even spotted a lagotto romagnolo…is that the “dogshot” for me? I have shown it to my four legged ones – and they said Yes!

    • You did indeed spot a lagotto romagnolo. That is one of two shots I caught. The other is more of a close up of the beautiful dog, but with less interesting perspective behind.
      I was absorbed taking shots of the rose petals and then I turned round and saw him coming towards me. Of course I thought of you and your wonderful dogs instantly ๐Ÿ™‚

      I’m glad to hear you enjoyed the writing along with the photos, and I’m certain you would love to visit this city. It’s full of character and so beautiful.

  22. WildBlack says:

    Amazing shots. Really interesting perspectives ๐Ÿ™‚

  23. zark66 says:

    Wonderful photos Seonaid! I specially like the brightness of the streets, amazing! ๐Ÿ™‚

  24. Great job on meeting the challenge. Your photos are so warm and engaging, they are such fun to look at.

  25. Lucid Gypsy says:

    Goodness every shot has amazing light and those pavements really draw you in. Dubrovnic must make you feel very grounded.

    • You know that’s so true and I hadn’t thought about it that way. Grounded is the perfect description, and yet also swept into history and layers of the past. It’s an earthy real feeling place.
      I was so lucky with the light, and shooting in the late afternoon also gave me great shadows ๐Ÿ™‚

  26. Tina Schell says:

    Lovely Seonaid! Especially liked the light through the windows. Well done!

    • I loved those cloisters, the light and shadows were amazing, and it was so cool and freshly scented. In the centre of the four sided walkway was a lush garden with flowers, singing birds and chirping crickets. Such a peaceful contrast to the hot busy streets.

  27. Stunning and entrancing images. Like Opalla, Dubrovnik has moved up in my mind’s list of places to see. I’m very intrigued by the pharmacy You’ve done a beautiful job with the weeks photo challenge.

    • Thanks Kellie, it really is well worth a visit. It’s as I imagined a medieval city should look, and the pharmacy was so interesting to see. You weren’t allowed to photograph inside unfortunately, but the cloisters leading in were so beautiful.

  28. didigrbesic says:

    What beautiful pictures. Croatia is a beautiful place – that is my home country!

    • Well you live in a wonderfully beautiful place, and Dubrovnik is incredible. I met some lovely people, and a lovely guy at the pharmacy charged us half price just because we were Scottish ๐Ÿ™‚

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  30. ladyfi says:

    Wow – what amazing shots. So beautiful.

    • Thanks Fi, it was a captivating city, and I was drawn to those lines as soon as I walked through the gates. I spent lots of time on my knees, but not in prayer, to catch the angles and composition I was looking for ๐Ÿ™‚

  31. restlessjo says:

    I was on my way to do my 6WS but I was irresistibly drawn here first when I saw this in my Reader. What a stunning post, Seonaid! Some of the best photos I have ever seen of Dubrovnik and I’ve seen lots because it’s a place that I also love. So seldom do you see a shot along the wall like that! I remember the heat and the beauty of those polished streets so vividly. And the pharmacy!
    Imagine marrying here! (you’d have to do something with the crowd, of course ๐Ÿ™‚ )

    • It’s a really special place isn’t it, and I was really captivated by the smooth reflecting street and the sense of history breathing down my neck. It looks just as a medieval city should look, and is perfectly preserved despite its troubled past.
      Thanks for the wonderful compliments about the photos, it was a joy to shoot here, and walking around the walls gave me some great shots. I chose to post this one because I love the light on this one despite the lens flares ๐Ÿ™‚ I drove my poor husband almost to distraction though as I waited for people to pass before taking the shots!

  32. vastlycurious.com says:

    What a beautiful blog of Dubrovnik ! I had no idea!

    • I was expecting it to be wonderful, because everyone I had spoken to who had visited said so. However I found it even better than I had expected, it’s so perfectly preserved that you feel as though you have stepped back in time, it fuelled my imagination.

  33. Opalla says:

    Such historical beauty! I am moving Croatia higher on my list of places to visit. Thanks for your post. ๐Ÿ™‚

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