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Ston and Mali Ston are adjacent “blink-and-you’ll-miss-them” towns at the isthmus where Pelješac meets the Croatian mainland less than 1 hr. northwest of Dubrovnik (58km/36 miles). However, both bedroom community Mali Ston and its working-class sister Ston were important strategic locations for the Republic of Dubrovnik, which acquired them in the 14th century. The city-state’s officials then built an amazing system of fortified walls and fortresses that still run up the southern slope of Sveti Mihaljo (St. Michael) Hill behind the town, serving to limit enemy access to the rest of the Pelješac Peninsula in medieval times.

You can climb to a lookout point on the wall via stone stairs. Some sets of stairs are overgrown and only appear to lead up from various streets in town to the top of the wall. These are dead ends, so approach from the right.

The town of Ston is a small area scored with a number of very narrow streets designed to flummox would-be intruders. In addition to the walls, the towns prize their salt pans and oyster beds, which still are active today. Stay for dinner at one of the area’s good restaurants to feast on oysters taken directly from nearby beds and to drink Pelješac’s fine wines.