For hundreds of years, Croats have dealt with hordes invading their lands. During the 19th century, they desperately fought the Ottoman Empire from the south. Today, they face a less violent mass, and are instead overrun by the great tourist hordes of Northern and Western Europe.
In Ston, Croatia, these two forces, historic and economic, meet in the middle. As tourists flock to Croatia for its placid blue-green waters and dramatic seaside cliffs, they still face the great walls that protected the city from Ottomans for the last 500 years.
Ston and its smaller neighbor, aptly named Mali Ston (Little Ston), are completely connected and surrounded by a five-kilometer defensive wall. Situated on the Dalmatian coast, the walls and fortified port resemble the more famous Dubrovnik harbor, only 60 kilometers to the south.
However, the walls of Ston are twice as long as those of the more-acclaimed Dubrovnik and make up the longest fortress system in Europe. The walls also feature forty stunning defensive towers and a massive hillside fortress looking over the city from the rocky outcroppings above.
Although invaders could not destroy the system, the Ston walls took massive damage in an earthquake in 1996. Luckily, this natural disaster spurred a restoration project of the walls. Today visitors come to climb them and look over the breathtaking Adriatic Sea, picturing themselves as Ottoman warriors preparing to loot a wealthy kingdom of the past.