Ston, Croatia: Salt & Walls
Ston, Croatia is a small Medieval town who’s history goes back to the 14th century. I’d heard about the walls of Ston, the second longest in the world at the time of their building, coming in at 5.5km. In the time of the Republic of Dubrovnik, the area was rich with salt and needed protecting. Today, sea salt from the Adriatic is still being produced using traditional methods and is one of the town’s attractions. Since Ston was included on so many tours I figured it would have more going on. I found salt there. I found walls there. I didn’t find much else.
Back in the time of the Republic of Dubrovnik, a kilo of salt was worth the same as a kilo of gold, so whoever controlled the salt was rich. Unlike most city walls, these weren’t built surrounding a town, but instead up over the hills to protect the salt pans. During our 30 minute stop, the salt pans were closed for tours but there was still a man set up outside the gate to sell you overpriced salt in a souvenir bag. We stuck our cameras through the bars of the gate instead in an attempt to get a snapshot. Too bad salt pans aren’t overly photogenic when there’s no activity.
We weren’t given enough time to walk the town walls but I expect the views would’ve been amazing in a way completely unlike Dubrovnik. If Ston is on your route and you have an hour or two, I would recommend checking them out. I’ve heard nothing but good thing about the walk. The town itself isn’t worth going out of your way for unless you can climb the walls, get a tour of the salt pans (July or August during the harvesting would be best) or indulge in seafood. If you find yourself in town for a meal, I’ve been told to try the mussels and oysters since they’re farmed nearby in the gulf of Mali Ston and pair quite well with local Pelješac wines.
What I did have time to see of Ston was a mix of ruins and new buildings. Signs for accommodations next to a building with the back missing and falling in on itself. A crumbling church next to a grocery store. A cafe large enough to seat half the village sat empty except for two tourists with Cokes. The lack of people and too much decay left me feeling a little depressed. Did I just visit on a really slow day? Even the requisite souvenir stand was pretty sad. Thirty minutes was all we had and it was really all we needed. It feels like a town who hit its prime two hundred years ago and has been in decline since the fall of the Republic of Dubrovnik.
Am I being too hard on Ston? Have you visited? What did I miss?
November 13th, 2012 at 10:56 am (#)
Hm, did not know all this, but thanks for sharing this nice story about the old times :)
November 13th, 2012 at 5:59 pm (#)
I haven’t been to Ston but your pictures do make it look like a slow paced and relaxing place. I suppose I could stay there for a night or two if I really wanted to slow the pace down. Hey who doesn’t need to slow down once in a while.
A country walk or two in such a beautiful setting would be lovely for me.
Maybe you expected something different when you went there?
November 14th, 2012 at 12:34 am (#)
I think I just expected a bit more life in the place. I’d also just come directly from Dubrovnik which practically hums with energy.
November 13th, 2012 at 11:07 pm (#)
Hi Melissa! Interesting story! I’ve never been to Ston, but in the areas of Croatia that I have visited, I’ve found that the natural sights are much more impressive with the historic ones! For example, the falls at Plitvice and Brac Island are some of the most beautiful places I have ever visited, but the ruins I saw in Split were not so memorable.
January 28th, 2013 at 4:35 am (#)
Gorgeous photos of Montenegro! I was in Croatia eariler this year in June, although I didn’t make it down quite as far south as you. We drove from Nuremberg to Krk Island by car, so to get down to Split/Dubrovnik would have been a bit too far for one week It was beautiful, but I could imagine Montenegro must have been a pleasant surprise, with a bit more authentic flare.
November 23rd, 2012 at 8:31 am (#)
amazing picture. Europe has always fascinated me, dying for the day when i’ll get to explore this wonderful continent full of history and culture.
September 17th, 2013 at 7:09 am (#)
Visit on a Sunday
The whole village WAS seated in the cafe
December 15th, 2013 at 9:53 am (#)
I don’t know if you were aware of it but Ston was badly damaged by an earthquake in 1996. That is why it looks like it is in bad shape. I’m going there for the first time in a few days time and thanks to your article will concentrate more on the walk along the walls followed by eating seafood in the harbour, hopefully, than looking at the market in the town centre. Should be good!