Exterior of Pile Gate.

The natural starting point to any visit to Dubrovnik is this imposing city gate, built in 1537. While crossing the drawbridge, imagine that this was once lifted every evening, the gate closed and the key handed to the rector. Notice the statue of St Blaise, the city’s patron saint, set in a niche over the Renaissance arch.

After passing through the outer gate you'll come to stairs and a ramp leading down to an inner gate dating from 1460, topped once again by a St Blaise statue, this one by leading Croatian sculptor Ivan Meštrović (1883–1962). As you pass through the Gothic arch you'll immediately be struck by your first view of Placa, or as it’s commonly known, Stradun, Dubrovnik’s pedestrian promenade.