Pronounced “Tsavtat” this refined and peaceful little harbour town of around 2,000 inhabitants is set among tall pine trees around two pretty wooded bays. Originally a Greek/Roman settlement called ‘Epidaurus’ dating from 228 BC, it was sacked by tribes in the 7th century AD and refugees fled north to found the town of Dubrovnik. A prosperous shipbuilding centre in the 16th C, the town later became an exclusive retreat for wealthy Croatians and Austro-Hungarians who built its Baroque stone mansions.
During this time it was home to many local artists including sculptor Ivan Mestrovic and is also the birthplace of celebrated Croatian realist painter Vlaho Bukovac. After the disastrous siege of Dubrovnik in the 1990s the town began to redevelop once again as a low key resort for foreign tourists - who are given a warm welcome. It also attracts a high number of British and German visitors seeking to buy holiday homes. At its heart is the delightful medieval Old Town where narrow cobbled streets of traditional red-roofed, honey-coloured stone buildings climb steeply up to the tip of the pine-covered peninsula, which is crowned by a cemetery featuring the ornate 1920’s white stone Racic family Mausoleum.
More modern mostly low-rise buildings are spread out around the two bays and up the forested hillsides; a few hotels lie to the NE along a mile of pleasant coastal footpath meandering around scenic Tiha Bay. A broad palm-fringed seaside promenade lined with attractive pavement cafes, bars and restaurants is the social hub of the resort and bustles at night with locals gathering to gossip and visitors sipping aperitifs and watching the sunset over the bay.Tourism has long since overtaken fishing and farming as the town’s main source of income but fishermen still ply their trade and their modest boats jockey for position in the harbour with tourist vessels and glamorous yachts.
Its proximity to Cilipi airport means the occasional jet flying low overhead and the narrow cobbled streets are not conducive to cars – which are banned from parking in the town altogether during the busy summer months.
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