The Spanish Camino is known all over the world by pilgrims and nature lovers. Soon, Dubrovnik should also get its own pilgrimage path, about 120 kilometers long, which would connect it with Medjugorje.
Last week, the mayor of Dubrovnik, Mato Frankovic, initiated a meeting regarding the implementation of the Camino Dubrovnik project, a touristic pilgrimage path with a length of about 120 kilometers. That path should start from the Benedictine monastery of St. James in Dubrovnik, and end at the church of St. James in Medjugorje.
Frankovic expressed his readiness for the City of Dubrovnik to financially support the project through the marking and arrangement of the path, and he announced that the entire project, together with the municipalities through which the Camino passes, will be applied for European Union (EU) funds.
Dubrovnik lovers of hiking and nature were asked by journalists to comment on the idea of Camino Dubrovnik and to reflect on the positive and possibly negative aspects of the whole story.
Zlatko Rajcevic, a resident of Dubrovnik who has climbed famous world peaks, says it is a great idea to make a scaled-down version of the world-famous Camino towards the Spanish city of Santiago de Compostela.
“In Spain, the route is a thousand kilometers, and ours would be about a hundred, which is much more accessible to a larger number of visitors. The Spanish Camino is visited annually by about 450 thousand pilgrims, which is a respectable number. We already have Via Adriatica, which stretches from Istria to Prevlaka in a length of 1.100 kilometers, which has not fully come to life precisely because it is (too) long. So this shorter option of ours seems much more interesting to me. I don’t know where exactly the route will go, but it would be stupid not to use the part of the Via Adriatica to Ston (it then continues via Peljesac and goes to Trpanj on the ferry), and to go further through the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) to Medjugorje,” points out Rajcevic, and then emphasizes potential difficulties:
“In my opinion, potential problems are, if the Dubrovnik Camino is completed in five days, that the ‘stations’ where you spend the night must be in some neighborhoods that should provide accommodation for a sufficient number of people. In Spain, accommodation cannot be booked in advance, so you have to sleep in bags if you haven’t booked a bed in time. Also, a transport service (van, truck) should be organized where you can hand over your excess luggage, which they will take to the next point on the way (for a surcharge) where there is an overnight stay, and you only carry a small daypack. Maybe it’s not so much mandatory with our tour because it’s not too much distance to cover,” Rajcevic states, and refers to the stamps that should be found in lodgings:
“In every lodging, there must be a stamp that you put in the booklet that you have passed a certain section of the trail, and at the end, you receive a diploma for successfully completing the pilgrimage. Accommodation should be of the type of shared dormitories (hostel, camp, or mountain lodge) with an acceptable price,” Rajcevic concludes.
Modern trends are a return to nature
The President of the County Assembly, Terezina Orlic, was once on the Spanish Camino, having walked the most famous route lasting about thirty days, which starts in France. She also thinks that the Dubrovnik Camino is a great idea because modern trends are such that more and more people are returning to nature, and the very attractiveness of Dubrovnik and Medjugorje as starting and final destinations could become a magnet for many pilgrims.
“In Croatia, there are already several Caminos that are under the supervision of the brotherhood of St. James, the one on Krk, Banovina, and in Sibenik, Imoti. All these Caminos are developing and strengthening year by year. Of course, the level of the one in Spain, which has been going on for centuries, cannot be reached overnight, but it is necessary to start and develop slowly. I have met people from the Brotherhood and I can say that they are young and enterprising people who, in cooperation with the tourist boards, achieve what they set out to do, so I have no doubt that they will make an effort to make the Dubrovnik Camino come to life as well,” Orlic states.