Find Dubrovnik City on FB icon


Dubrovnik > Short History of Dubrovnik

The story of Dubrovnik

The story of Dubrovnik is old as it is beautiful. It all started long ago in times that could only be recalled by legends... In this time thrived the Roman city of Epidaurum located on the place of today's Cavtat. Being on the crossroads Epidaurum was a large and prosperous Roman colony numbering by some predictions up to 40 000 people.

The Roman empire was at its decline as the barbarian invasions were rampaging throughout the empire and so the city of Epidaurum shared the faith of the empire, first damaged by an earthquake and then ransacked by a barbarian force. The numerous refugees fled to a small already populated island nearby called Laus - the rock, and there they found shelter to form a new city that will later be named Ragusium.

Some time later in the 7th century with the Slav migration Croatians came and made a settlement on the shore across the channel of Laus and they called the settlement Dubrovnik, most probably by the dense oak woods that surrounded them on the slopes of the hill Srdj. And the two settlements coexisted and traded until they were one.

Already in the 9th century the joined City was so strong and fortified that it succeeded to repel 15 month Saracen siege.

In the 11th century the channel between the two settlements was finally covered-up and the City was physically united and te channel became the most famous street of Dubrovnik, celebrated in many songs and poems, the Stradun street.

From the early days God gently smiled on the new formed City and Dubrovnik was growing and expanding its influence on the seas and trade. Of course position on the trade crossroads, sheltered harbour along with the skill in shipbuilding inherited from the long sea-tradition of Epidaurum, and quality oak wood that surrounded the City greatly helped in building its maritime fleet and becoming a trade centre.

Until the 13th century Dubrovnik was growing under the protectorate of the Byzantine empire but the local autonomy had a strong presence so already from the 12th century the City elects its own Rector and the people have a strong will in ruling and on deciding important political questions.

Strong blow to Dubrovnik, its economy and development, was occupation by Venice from 1205 which lasted for 150 years as Venice named the members of the Great council (one of the executive political bodies) and was trying to take over the complete reign in Dubrovnik.

Thus Dubrovnik survived the rule and developed slowly into an aristocratic republic becoming free in the 14th century only nominally accepting Austro-Hungarian rule and paying annual tribute.

And the earlier name of "Communitas Ragusina" changed to "Respublica Ragusina" and Dubrovnik became a republic that had the strength and power to rival Venice.

The small republic continued to grow thankfully to the wise rule, neutral posture, and diplomacy that enabled more and more privileges. So the kingdoms and empires grew and weakened while the Republic was always there, manoeuvring and aiding for profit, trading with all sides and prospering.

Noteworthy is the battle of Levant, between Turks and Christian coalition when the Republic aided both sides with war ships... because there was only one goal of the Republic, one thing that they adored and were willing to preserve at all cost, this was freedom. The sentence engraved on the fortress Lovrijenac encaptures the soul of the Dubrovnik republic: "Non bene pro toto venditur Libertas auro" - "Liberty can not be sold for all the gold in the world.” And Dubrovnik was best at diplomacy and used it to keep precious liberty in any way possible.

Most famous Dubrovnik ships were called "Argosy", and this later became a poetic expression for a large, wealthy, merchant vessel. The City had such an extensive maritime trade network that their ships sailed all the way even to England. And the Republic was so wealthy that it held colonies in India.

But the Republic, the centre of trade, arts and culture had a faith, similar to that of the Epidaurum. In 1667 a great tragedy befell the small City, "the Great earthquake of 1667". Most of the City was shattered into dust: its buildings, churches, mansions and houses went to ruin... and Dubrovnik once more was saved by its diplomacy as it sent its ambassadors to greet the invasion fleet of Venice and the Turkish land force assuring them that the Republic is doing fine and does not need any "help".

Although Dubrovnik Republic survived this tragedy and was rebuilt to shine anew it never reached its old glory and slowly faded until 1806 the Napoleon forces were outside its gates asking for free passage. The authorities let them pass but the French did not have intention of leaving and the Republic was abolished in 1808.

Later Dubrovnik came under Austro-Hungarian empire and after the WWI became a part of Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, later renamed into the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and after WWII as part of Croatia remained in Socialistic Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and today after Croatia took its independence is a shining example of Croatian culture and heritage bringing thousands of tourists every year to rediscover the Dubrovnik dream once again, a simple dream of freedom and beauty.

Dubrovnik > Short History of Dubrovnik
Search Dubrovnik City


Change Language !

DeutschHrvatskiItalianoEnglishUS EnglishEspanolFrancaisFlamishPortugese...
About Dubrovnik City About us Contact us Contact Terms and Conditions Terms & Conditions Sitemap Sitemap Dubrovnik City Home Home