The walls of Ston

In an area known for its rugged natural beauty, few man-made sights are more magnificent than the grizzled fourteenth-century walls of Ston. For many years only a tiny stretch of this 5.5km-long line of fortifications was accessible to the public, but after a long period of renovation a significant circuit of wall was ceremonially opened to the public in October 2009. Visitors can now scramble around the ring of bastions that surrounds the town of Ston itself, enjoying fantastic views of the surrounding countryside.
The walls date back to 1334, when the Republic of Dubrovnik gained Ston and the neighbouring Pelješac peninsula, and immediately set about securing it against potential Venetian or Ottoman attack. The area was well worth the investment: the salt pans of Ston went on to become a key source of Dubrovnik’s revenue, and helped to keep the republic’s fleet on the seas. 
Spanning the isthmus that connects the Peljesac peninsula to the mainland, and consisting of 40 towers and 5 fortresses, the walls comprise one of the longest stretches of surviving fortifications in the whole of Europe. Local sources reckon it to be the second longest stretch in the world after the Great Wall of China, although this eye-popping claim was probably intended as an attention-grabbing ruse by PR-conscious tourist officials. In the event, we feel obliged to report that a few idle seconds of web-surfing revealed that Kumbhalgarh in India boasts 36km of surviving wall – although we didn’t bother investigating any further.

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