Dubrovnik is a city on the Adriatic coast in southern Croatia. It has a rich and fascinating history dating back to the 7th century. For centuries, the city has been an important trading centre, a powerful maritime republic and a popular tourist destination.
Ancient History Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik was founded in the 7th century by refugees fleeing from Avars and Slavs from the nearby city of Epidaurum (now Cavtat). The new settlement was called Ragusa and, overlooking the Adriatic Sea, soon became a thriving trading centre. In the 10th century, Ragusa became an independent city-state with its own government, laws and currency.
The Golden Age
Ragusa reached its peak as a maritime republic in the 13th century, becoming one of the wealthiest and most powerful cities in the Mediterranean. Its merchant fleet was one of the largest in the region, and its merchants traded as far as Egypt, India and China. Ragusa was also known for its advanced legal system based on Roman law.
The city’s prosperity led to the construction of magnificent walls, fortresses and public buildings, many of which are still preserved today. The most famous of these are the city walls, built between the 13th and 16th centuries and one of the best-preserved medieval fortifications in the world.
Ragusa’s golden age ended in the 17th century with a series of disasters, including severe earthquakes and epidemics. Despite these setbacks, the city managed to rebuild and remained an important trading centre.
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Austrian rule over Dubrovnik
In the 19th century, Ragusa became part of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, bringing new prosperity to the city. The Austrians invested in new ports, railways and other infrastructure to boost trade and tourism. Yugoslavian period
After the Second World War, Ragusa became part of the newly established Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The city continued to develop as a tourist destination and many new hotels and resorts were built along the coast.
After the collapse of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s, Dubrovnik was at the centre of the Croatian War of Independence. The city was besieged by the Yugoslav People’s Army and suffered significant damage to its historic buildings and infrastructure. Thanks to massive international aid efforts, however, the city was rebuilt and regained its status as an important tourist destination. Today, Dubrovnik is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is visited by millions of tourists every year. Its historic architecture, stunning coastline and vibrant culture make it one of the most popular destinations in the Mediterranean.