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Dubrovnik ( ) (Italian, Ragusa), is a Croatianmarker city on the Adriatic Seamarker coast in the extreme south of Dalmatia, positioned at the terminal end of the Isthmus of Dubrovnik.It is one of the most prominent tourist destinations on the Adriatic, a seaport and the centre of Dubrovnik-Neretva countymarker.Its population was 43,770 in 2001 down from 49,728 in 1991. In 1979, the city of Dubrovnik joined the UNESCOmarker list of World Heritage Sites.

The prosperity of the city of Dubrovnik has always been based on maritime trade. In the Middle Ages, as the Republic of Ragusa, also known as the fifth Maritime Republic (together with Amalfimarker, Pisamarker, Genoamarker and Venicemarker), it became the only eastern Adriatic city-state to rival Venicemarker.Supported by its wealth and skilled diplomacy, the city achieved a remarkable level of development, particularly during the 15th and 16th centuries.


In Croatian, and all other Slavic languages, the city is known as Dubrovnik; in Italianas Ragusa, its historical name, in Greekas Raiyia(Ραυγια) or Ragousa(Ραγουσα).

The current Croatian name was officially adopted in 1918 after the fall of Austria–Hungary.


From the foundation to the end of the Republic

Republic of Dubrovnik before 1808
Historical lore indicates that Ragusa (Dubrovnik) was founded in the 7th century on a rocky island named Laus, which provided shelter for Dalmatian refugees from the nearby city of Epidaurusmarker.The Latino-dalmatian founders were escaping from the Slavic invasions.

Another theory appeared recently, based on new archaeological excavations. New findings (a Byzantine basilica from 8th century and parts of the city walls) contradicts the traditional theory. The size of the old basilica clearly indicates that there was quite large settlement at that time. There is also increasing support in the scientific communityfor the theory that major construction of Ragusa took place during B.C. years. This "Greek theory" has been boosted by recent findings of numerous Greek artifacts during excavations in the Port of Dubrovnik. Also, drilling below the main city roadmarker has revealed natural sand, which contradicts the theory of Laus (Lausa) island.

Dr. Antun Ničetić in his book ("Povijest dubrovačke luke" - History of the Port of Dubrovnik) expounds on the theory that Dubrovnik was established by Greek sailors. A key element in this theory is the fact that shipsin ancient timestravelled about 45-50 nautical milesper day, and required a sandy shore to pull out of waterfor the rest period during the night. The ideal rest site would have fresh watersource in the vicinity. Dubrovnik has both, and is situated almost halfway between two known Greek settlements Budvamarker and Korčulamarker (95 NM is the distance between them).

After the fall of the Ostrogothic Kingdom, the town came under the protectionof the Byzantine Empire, although it was essentially an independent city-state that actively interacted with the surrounding Serbian littoral. After the Crusades, Ragusa came under the sovereignty of Venicemarker (1205–1358), which would give its institutions to the Dalmatian city.By the Peace Treaty of Zadarin 1358, Ragusa achieved a relative independence as a vassal-state of the Kingdom of Hungary.

Between the 14th centuryand 1808 Ragusa ruled itself as a free state. The Republic had its peak in the 15th and 16th centuries, when its thalassocracy rivalled that of the Republic of Venicemarker and other Italian maritime republics.

The Republic of Ragusa received its own Statutes as early as 1272, statutes which, among other things, codified Roman practice and local customs. The Statutes included prescriptions for town planningand the regulation of quarantine (for hygienic reasons). The Republic was very inventive regarding laws and institutions that were developed very early:

  • Medical service was introduced in 1301
  • The first pharmacy (still working) was opened in 1317
  • A refuge for old people was opened in 1347
  • The first quarantine hospital (Lazarete) was opened in 1377
  • Slave trading was abolished in 1418
  • The orphanage was opened in 1432
  • The water supply system (20 kilometers) was constructed in 1436

The city was ruled by the local aristocracythat was of Latin-dalmatian extraction and formed two city councils. As usual for the time, they maintained a strict system of social classes. The republic abolished the slave tradeearly in the 15th centuryand valued liberty highly. The city successfully balanced its sovereignty between the interests of Venice and the Ottoman Empirefor centuries.

The languages spoken by the people were the romance Dalmatian and Croatian. But the latter started to replace Dalmatian little by little since the 11th centuryamongst the common people who inhabited the city. The aristocracy was of Latin extraction. The population itself was mostly of Latin origin until the 17th century, when the Croatian migrations from the surrounding regions.

Italian(and the literary Italian language and the Venetian dialect) would become an important language of culture in the Republic of Ragusa. The Italian languagereplaced Latin as official languageof the Republic of Ragusa from 1492 until the end of the republic itself. At the same time, due to a pacific cohabitation with the Slavic element and the influence of the Italian cultureon this, during the Renaissance Ragusa became a cradle of the Croatian literature.

The economic wealth of the Republic was partially the result of the land it developed, but especially of the seafaring trade it did. With the help of skilled diplomacy, Ragusa's merchants travelled lands freely, and on the sea the city had a huge fleet of merchant ships(argosy) that travelled all over the world. From these travels they founded some settlements, from India to America, and brought parts of their culture and vegetation home with them. One of the keys to success was not conquering, but trading and sailing under a white flag with the word freedom ( ) prominently featured on it. That flag was adopted when slave trading was abolished in 1418.

Many Conversos (Marranos)—Jews from Spainmarker and Portugalmarker—were attracted to the city.In May, 1544, a ship landed there filled exclusively with Portuguese refugees, as Balthasar de Faria reported to King John. During this time there worked in the city one of the most famous cannon and bell founders of his time: Ivan Rabljanin(Magister Johannes Baptista Arbensis de la Tolle).

The Republic gradually declined after a crisis of Mediterraneanmarker shipping—and especially a catastrophic earthquake in 1667 that killed over 5000 citizens, levelling most of the public buildings—ruined the well-being of the Republic.In 1699 the Republic sold two patches of its territorymarker to the Ottomans in order to avoid terrestrial borderline, with advancing Venetian forces.Today this strip of land belongs to Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker and is its only direct access to the Adriatic.

In 1806 the city surrendered to French forces, as that was the only way to cut a month's long siege by the Russian-Montenegrin fleets (during which 3000 cannonballs fell on the city). At first Napoleondemanded only free passage for his troops, promising not to occupy the territory and stressing that the French were friends of the Ragusans. Later, however, French forces blockaded the harbours, forcing the government to give in and let French troops enter the city. On this day, all flags and coats of armsabove the city walls were painted black as a sign of grief. In 1808, Marshal Marmontabolished the republic and integrated its territory first into the Napoleon's Kingdom of Italyand later into the Illyrian provincesunder French rule.

Austrian rule

When the Habsburg Empiregained these provinces after the 1815 Congress of Vienna, the new imperial authorities installed a bureaucratic administration, which retained the essential framework of the Croatian-speaking system. It introduced a series of modifications intended to centralize, albeit slowly, the bureaucratic, tax, religious, educational, and trade structures. Unfortunately for the local residents, these centralization strategies, which were intended to stimulate the economy, largely failed. And once the personal, political and economic trauma of the Napoleonic Warshad been overcome, new movements began to form in the region, calling for a political reorganization of the Adriatic along national lines.

The combination of these two forces—a flawed Habsburg administrative system and new national movements claiming ethnicity as the founding block towards a community—created a particularly perplexing problem; for Dalmatia was a province ruled by the German-speaking, centralizing Habsburg monarchy, with bilingual i.e. Croatian and Italian speaking elites that dominated a general population consisting of a Croatian Catholic majority (and a Serb Orthodoxminority of not more than 300 people).

In 1815, the former Ragusan Government, i.e. its noble assembly, met for the last time in the ljetnikovac in Mokošica. Once again heavy efforts were undertaken to re-establish the Republic however this time it was all in vain. After fall of the Republic most of the aristocracy died out or emigrated overseas. Others were recognized by Austrian Empire.

In 1832, Baron Sigismondo Ghetaldi-Gondola(1795–1860) was elected podestàof Ragusa, serving for 13 years; the Austrian government granted him the title of "Baron".

Count Raffaele Pozza, Dr. Jur., (1828–90) was elected for first time Podestà of Ragusa in the year 1869 after this was re-elected in 1872, 1875, 1882, 1884) and elected twice into the Dalmatian Council, 1870, 1876. The victory of the Nationalist in Spalato in 1882 had a strong echo in the areas of Curzola and Ragusa. It was greeted by the mayor (podestà) of Ragusa Raffaele Pozza, the National Reading Club of Dubrovnik, the Workers Association of Dubrovnik and the review "Slovinac"; by the communities of Kuna and Orebić, the latter one getting the nationalist government even before Split.

Austrian rule and Austro-Hungarian rule which followed lasted for more than a century and were typified by the motto of the world powers of that time: Divide et impera(Divide and rule). Austrian policy of denationalizing the Dalmatian coasts left its mark in the political division of the population as best expressed in the political parties: the Croatian People's Partyand the mostly ItalianiteAutonomous Party.

In 1889, Croatians supported Baron Francesco Ghetaldi-Gondola, candidate of Autonomous Party, vs the candidate of Popular Party Vlaho de Giulli, in the 1890 election to the Dalmatian Diet. The following year during the local government election, the Autonomous Party won the municipal reelection with Francesco Gondola, who died in power in 1899, the alliance won the election again on 27 May 1894. Francesco Ghetaldi-Gondola founded the Società Philatelyon 4 December 1890.
Ivan Gundulić monument 1893


With the fall of Austria-Hungary in 1918, the city was incorporated into the new Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenesmarker (later the Kingdom of Yugoslaviamarker).The name of the city was officially changed from Ragusa to Dubrovnik.

In 1921 Pero Cingrijadied (born 1837), politician and one of the leaders of the People's Party in Dalmatia. It was thanks to his efforts that the People's Party and the Party of Right were fused into one Croatian Party in 1905

During World War II, Dubrovnik became part of the Nazi controlled Independent State of Croatiamarker, occupied by the Italian army first, and by the German army after 8 September 1943.In October 1944 Tito's partisans entered Dubrovnik, that became consequently part of Communist Yugoslaviamarker.Soon after their arrival into the city, Partisans sentenced approximately 78 citizens to death without trial, including a Catholic priest.

After 1945, many citizens left the city and settled in Italy, Austria or Germany. Their assets were confiscated and passed into the hands of the state .

Break-up of Yugoslavia

Dubrovnik Shelling (black dots) 1991 to 1992.
In 1991 Croatiamarker and Sloveniamarker, which at that time were republics within Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslaviamarker, declared their independence.At that event, Socialist Republic of Croatia was renamed Republic of Croatiamarker.

Despite demilitarization of the old town in early 1970s in an attempt to prevent it from ever becoming a casualty of war, following Croatiamarker's independence in 1991, Serbian-Montenegrin remains of the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) attacked the city.The regime in Montenegromarker led by Momir Bulatović, which was installed by and loyal to the Serbian government led by Slobodan Milošević, declared that Dubrovnik would not be permitted to remain in Croatia because they claimed it was historically part of Montenegromarker.This was in spite of the large Croat majority in the city and that very few Montenegrins resided there, though Serbs accounted for six percent of the population. Many consider the claims by the Bulatović government, as being part of Serbian President Milošević's plan to deliver his nationalist supporters the Greater Serbiathey desired as Yugoslaviacollapsed.

On October 1, 1991 Dubrovnik was attacked by JNAwith a siege of Dubrovnikthat lasted for seven months. Heaviest artillery attack happened on December 6 with 19 people killed and 60 wounded. Total casualties in the conflict according to Croatian Red Crossmarker were 114 killed civilians, among them celebrated poet Milan Milisić.In May 1992 the Croatian Armylifted the siege and liberated Dubrovnik's surroundings, but the danger of sudden attacks by the JNA lasted for another three years.

Following the end of the war, damage caused by the shelling of the Old Town was repaired. Adhering to UNESCOmarker guidelines, repairs were performed in the original style., most damage had been repaired. The inflicted damage can be seen on a chart near the city gate, showing all artillery hits during the siege, and is clearly visible from high points around the city in the form of the more brightly coloured new roofs. ICTYmarker indictments were issued for JNA generals and officers involved in the bombing.

General Pavle Strugar, who was coordinating the attack on the city, was sentenced to an eight year prison term by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslaviamarker for his role in the attack of the city.

The 1996 Croatia USAF CT-43 crashmarker, near Dubrovnik Airportmarker, killed everyone on a United States Air Force jet with VIP passengers.


The annual Dubrovnik Summer Festivalis a month-long cultural event with live plays, concerts, and games. It has been awarded a Gold International Trophy for Quality (2007) by the Editorial Office in collaboration with the Trade Leaders Club.

February 3 is the feast of Sveti Vlaho , who is the city's patron saint. Every year the city of Dubrovnik celebrates the holiday with Mass, parades, and festivities that last for several days.

The Old Town of Dubrovnik is depicted on the reverseof the Croatian 50 kunabanknote, issued in 1993 and 2002.

Among the many tourist destinations are a few beaches. Banje, Dubrovnik's main public beach, is home to the Eastwest Beach Club hotel. There is also Copacabana Beach, a small stony beach part of the Elaphiti Islandsmarker, named after the popular beach in Rio de Janeiromarker.


The patron saintof the city is Sveti Vlaho , whose statues are seen around the city. He has an importance similar to that of St. Mark the Evangelistto Venice. The city's cathedral is named after Saint Blaise. The city boasts of many old buildings, such as the Arboretum Trstenomarker, the oldest arboretum in the world, dating back to before 1492.Also, the third oldest European pharmacyis located in the city, which dates back to 1317 (and is the only one still in operation today). It is located at Little Brothers church in Dubrovnik.

In history, many Conversos (Marranos) were attracted to Dubrovnik, formerly a considerable seaport. In May, 1544, a ship landed there filled exclusively with Portuguese refugees, as Balthasar de Faria reported to King John. Another admirer of Dubrovnik, George Bernard Shaw, visited the city in 1929 and said: "If you want to see heaven on earth, come to Dubrovnik."

In the bay of Dubrovnik is the 72-hectare wooded island of Lokrummarker, where according to legend, Richard the Lionheart was cast ashore after being shipwrecked in 1192.The island includes a fortress, botanical garden, monasteryand naturist beach.

Dubrovnik has also been mentioned in popular film and theater. In the film 20,000 Leagues Under the Seawith Michael Caine, one of the characters said to have been dreaming of fairyfrom Dubrovnik (motive known from local legends and literature).

Ivan Gundulić, a 17th century Croatian writer, predicted the downfall of the great Turkish Empire in his poem Osman.


The population of Dubrovnik is 43,770 according to the 2001 census, with about 40,770 live in the city proper. Approximately 88.39% of the population is Croat.

Important monuments

Few of Dubrovnik's Renaissance buildings survived the earthquake of 1667 but fortunately enough remain to give an idea of the city's architectural heritage. The finest Renaissance highlight is the Sponza Palace which dates from the 16th century and is currently used to house the National Archives. The Rectors Palace is a Gothic-Renaissance structure that displays finely-carved capitals and an ornate staircase. It now houses a museum. Its façade is depicted on the reverseof the Croatian 50 kunabanknote, issued in 1993 and 2002. The St Saviour Church is another remnant of the Renaissance period, next to the much-visited Franciscan Monastery. The Franciscan monastery's library possesses 30,000 volumes, 22 incunabula, 1,500 valuable handwritten documents. Exhibits include a 15th centurysilver-gilt cross and silver thurible, an 18th century crucifix from Jerusalem, a martyrology (1541) by Bemardin Gucetić and illuminated Psalters.

Dubrovnik's most beloved church is St Blaise's church, built in the 18th century in honor of Dubrovnik's patron saint. Dubrovnik's baroque Cathedral was built in the 18th century and houses an impressive Treasury with relics of Saint Blaise. The city's Dominican Monastery resembles a fortress on the outside but the interior contains an art museum and a Gothic-Romanesque church. A special treasure of the Dominican monastery is its library with over 220 incunabula, numerous illustrated manuscripts, a rich archive with precious manuscripts and documents and an extensive art collection.

Walls of Dubrovnik

A feature of Dubrovnik is its walls that run 2 km around the city. The walls run from four to six metres thick on the landward side but are much thinner on the seaward side. The system of turrets and towers were intended to protect the vulnerable city.


Dubrovnik has an international airportmarker of its own.It is located approximately from Dubrovnik city centre, near Čilipi. Buses connect the airport with the Dubrovnik old main bus station in Gružmarker.In addition, a network of modern, local buses connects all Dubrovnik neighborhoods running frequently from dawn to midnight. However, Dubrovnik, unlike Croatia's other major centres, is not accessible by rail.

The A1 highway, in use between Zagrebmarker and Ravča, is planned to be extended all the way to Dubrovnik.The highway will cross the Pelješac Bridgemarker which is currently under construction.An alternative plan proposes the highway running from Neummarker through Bosnia and Herzegovinamarker and an expressway continuing to Dubrovnik.This plan has fallen out of favor, though.


Dubrovnik has a number of educational institutions. These include Dubrovnik International University, the University of Dubrovnik, a Nautical College, a Tourist College, a University Centre for Postgraduate Studies of the University of Zagrebmarker, American College of Management and Technologymarker, and an Institute of History of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Artsmarker.


The climate along the Dubrovnik Region is a typical Mediterraneanmarker one, with mild, rainy winters and hot and dry summers.However, it is perhaps distinct from other Mediterranean climates because of the unusual winds and frequency of thunderstorms. The Bura wind blows uncomfortably cold gusts down the Adriaticmarker coast between October and April, and thundery conditions are common all the year round, even in summer, when they interrupt the warm, sunny days.The air temperatures can slightly vary, depending on the area or region. Typically, in July and August daytime maximum temperatures reach 29°C, and at night drop to around 21°C. More comfortable, perhaps, is the climate in Spring and Autumn when maximum temperatures are typically between 20°C and 28°C.

  • Air temperature
  • average annual
Stradun, Dubrovnik's main street
Rector's Palace
Avg high °C (°F)
12.2 (54.0)
12.3 (54.1)
14.4 (57.9)
16.9 (62.4)
21.3 (70.3)
25.2 (77.4)
28.3 (82.9)
28.7 (83.7)
25.4 (77.7)
21.4 (70.5)
16.6 (61.9)
13.3 (55.9)
Avg low °C (°F)
6.5 (43.7)
6.4 (43.5)
8.5 (47.3)
10.9 (51.6)
15.2 (59.4)
18.8 (65.8)
21.5 (70.7)
21.7 (71.1)
18.7 (65.7)
15.2 (59.4)
10.8 (51.4)
7.8 (46.0)
:*average of coldest period = January
:*average of warmest period = August

  • Sea temperature
    • average May–September
1,020.8 mm
    • average annual rain days
  • Sunshine
    • average annual
2629 h
    • average daily hours
7.2 h

Notable people from Dubrovnik

International relations

Twin towns - sister cities

Dubrovnik is twinned with:




File:Walls of Dubrovnik.jpg|Walls of DubrovnikmarkerFile:Walls of Dubrovnik-14.jpgFile:Walls of Dubrovnik-3.jpgFile:Walls of Dubrovnik-7.jpgFile:Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.jpg|Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary (Velika Gospa)File:Fortification walls, Dubrovnik, Croatia.JPG|Massive wallsFile:Lovrijenac, Dubrovnik, Croatia.JPG|Lovrijenacmarker TowerFile:Dubrovnik-font.jpg|Onuphrius's Fountain and the Church of Saint SaviourFile:Orlando, Dubrovnik, Croatia.JPG|The Roland statue, symbol of a free cityFile:Svvlaho_photo.jpg|Church of St. Blasius by night

File:Dubrovnik walls.JPG|Dubrovnik as seen from its wall

File:Dubrovnik1bqw.jpg| Dubrovnik and cruise shipFile:Dubrovnik2bqw.jpgFile:Dubrovnik3bqw.jpgFile:Dubrovnik4bqw.jpgFile:Dubrovnik5bqw.jpgFile:Dubrovnik6bqw.jpgFile:Dubrovnik7bqw.jpg

See also


  1. City of Dubrovnik. Retrieved July 2, 2007.
  2. Dubrovnik. Encyclopedia. Retrieved July 2, 2007.
  9. Dubrovnik news
  10. Croatian National Bank. Features of Kuna Banknotes: 50 kuna (1993 issue) & 50 kuna (2002 issue). – Retrieved on 30 March 2009.
  11. Dubrovnik Online, monuments in Dubrovnik
  12. Croatia Traveller, Dubrovnik History
  13. Croatia Traveller, Dominican Monastery
  14. Croatia Traveller, Dubrovnik

Further reading

  • Harris, Robin. Dubrovnik, A History. London: Saqi Books, 2003. ISBN 0-86356-332-5
  • Kremenjaš-Daničić, Adriana (Editor-in-Chief): Roland's European Paths. Dubrovnik: Europski dom Dubrovnik, 2006. ISBN 953-95338-0-5

External links

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