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Doubrovnik history

The words «Non bene pro toto libertas venditur auro» - «Freedom is not to be sold, not for all the gold of the world» were inscribed long ago during the times of the Dubrovnik Republic ...

The history of Dubrovnik is a fascinating study of the rise of a great maritime power that lived in peace and prosperity for nearly five centuries. Dubrovnik was originally called Ragusa and was formed in the 7th century when coastal residents took refuge there under the onslaught of barbarian invasions. Walls were quickly built to protect the new settlement.

Over the next four centuries Ragusa expanded its influence over the coast and became increasingly prosperous by trading with other Mediterranean cities. In 1205 it fell under the control of Venice but it managed to break away in 1358.

By the 15th century the Republic of Ragusa was a major rival of Venice for control of the Adriatic waterways, trading with the Near East and Europe. It maintained its independence through canny diplomacy and used its wealth to expand its cultural and political influence.

In 1667, Dubrovnik was devastated by a major earthquake which destroyed most of its Renaissance art and architecture. Only the Sponza Palace and the Rector's Palace survived the destruction. The city was reconstructed in the baroque style that you see today.

After the earthquake, Dubrovnik fell into decline, hastened by the emergence of other European naval powers. It was Napoleon who finally put an end to the republic in 1806 when he entered the city and announced its annexation. In 1815, the Congress of Vienna ceded Dubrovnik to Austria to whom it remained attached until 1918.
Dubrovnik attractions

Orlando’s column
Located in the centre of Dubrovnik. The fact that for four centuries the flag of freedom of the Republic of Dubrovnik flew on it makes it one of the most important symbols of Dubrovnik’s independence and freedom.

City walls
Dubrovnik’s most important feature and the most visually dominant symbol of the town; an impressive Middle Age construction where the corner towers of Minčeta, Revelin, Bokar and Sveti Ivan create the city’s famous historical shield.

Rector’s Palace
“Obliti privatorum publica curate” or “Forget your private business, concern yourself with public affairs”. This remarkable inscription can be found above the entrance of the Rector’s Palace, the most important public building in Dubrovnik and a site that was once the government headquarters and the Rector’s residence

St. Blaise church
The patron saint of Dubrovnik. This majestic church is located at the intersection of two main thoroughfares, where public gatherings in Dubrovnik are held – ‘Placa’ and ‘pred dvorom’. It was built by the Venetian architect and sculptor M. Gropelli at the beginning of the 18th century

Dominican monastery
The oldest monastery in Dubrovnik (1225) is an extremely valuable historical building, and also houses an important treasury of ancient Dubrovnik artwork, including 239 incunabula.

Rector’s Palace
The Baroque cathedral was built between 1673 and 1713 and was designed by the Italian architect Buffalini on the site of the Roman cathedral that was heavily damaged in the earthquake. The people of Dubrovnik named it ‘Gospa Velika’

Stradun (Placa)
Dubrovnik’s main street, the city “artery”. It has two fountains designed by Onofrio at either end that were built in the 15th century

Sponza Palace
The oldest multimedia building in Dubrovnik, built in 1520 in a mixed late gothic and renaissance style. It used to be a storage and customs building [Divon], and is now the State Archive where the most important documents about Dubrovnik’s history are kept.

Franciscan Monastery of the Friars Minor
Built in 1317under the city ramparts near Minčeta. Part of the monastery contains a very rich library that has a large number of preserved manuscripts of invaluable cultural and historical value. Asides from the ancient library, the monastery has also got one of the oldest pharmacies in Europe (1317).
Museums and galeries

Dubrovnik’s ancient city centre, surrounded by magnificent walls, has kept the traces of the time and culture of one nation. The Dubrovnik Museum in the Duke's Palace keeps 15,500 exhibits in its cultural and historical department. A collection of furniture from the 17th-19th century, uniforms of dukes and councillors, aristocratic garments and many other items are exhibited in the authentic halls of the palace.

The museum of the Franciscan monastery keeps all inventories of the old pharmacy, as well as the works of Dubrovnik jewellers, painters and embroiders. The museum of the Dominican monastery exhibits valuable examples of Dubrovnik painting from the 15th and the 16th centuries, as well as sculptures, jewellery, manuscripts, incunabula and notes (music).

The treasury of the Dubrovnik cathedral keeps the relics of St. Blaise, patron of Dubrovnik, and numerous paintings and works of art. The walls, which conceal many beauties and jewels, are themselves Dubrovnik’s greatest attraction. You will be enchanted by this unique place when you stay in Dubrovnik with the tower that rises above the walls and has protected the city for years, with the monastery and church , the castle, palace, streets, squares and port.George Bernard Shaw wrote “those who are looking for paradise on earth should visit Dubrovnik”.

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