Try to visit before 10am if you want to beat the crowds.
As the main entrance to Dubrovnik’s historic old town, the Pile Gate is a dramatic initiation to the city for the first time visitor. As you approach, its imposing grey bulk still seems utterly solid and impregnable, even now, almost 500 years after it was constructed.
Keeping out the Raiders
Built in 1537, the Pile Gate was one of the two gates in the city walls leading out towards the mainland. At the time, Dubrovnik was a wealthy, powerful city-state which would have been a ripe target for armies of all colours and stripes, and so its rulers demanded strong fortifications with which they could repel invaders while also allowing the regular passage of traders in and out of the city.
To this end, the massive stone Pile Gate was added to an already formidable set of city walls. As you approach it from the outside, you cross a solidly built double-arch bridge, which actually predates the gate by several decades, spanning the broad defensive moat which would once have been filled with water. After that, you will find yourself standing on a wooden drawbridge. During Dubrovnik’s days as a city-state, this was raised every night in a flamboyant ceremony during which the keys would be handed to the rector of the city. Passing inside the main gate, you will reach a smaller wooden gate which dates from 1460. Beyond that you’re through the gate complex, bringing you out onto the famous Stradun, the beautiful main avenue of Dubrovnik’s old town.
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