“Pearl of the Adriatic” and “Heaven on Earth” are two of the
phrases which have been used to describe this glorious
Tucked between Italy and Greece on the warm northern shore
of the Adriatic Sea this long time independent city state has
been a centre of commerce, diplomacy and recreation for 14
Refugees from the Barbarian attacks on the Roman city of
Epidaurum, (nearby Cavtat), in the 7th century were the first
inhabitants of this site, then a rocky outcrop just off the shore.
The name evolved from the original Laus, meaning rock, to the
now familiar Ragusa. Eventually the island town would merge with the coastal settlement opposite and the narrow channel between the two was filled in to form the Stradun (main street) which runs the length of the town.
Protected by its imposing walls and a strong political alliance with the Byzantine Empire through the 7th to 12th Century’s, Ragusa became a powerful trading and maritime centre. Granted the status of Republic in 1382 this independent state flourished during the15th to 17th Century’s rivaling that other great maritime centre Venice. At its peak a commercial fleet of some 500 ships formed the basis of its wealth and influence with trade founded on deft diplomacy and astute exploitation of strong political and commercial relationships. This time of peace and prosperity also allowed the arts, culture and science to flourish with Dubrovnik home to many significant local and international scholars, writers and artists.
The year 1667 was to see the beginning of a long decline for the town when a devastating earthquake struck the region with the loss of 5000 lives and the destruction of much of the town’s wonderful architecture.
Changing trade patterns, the end of the 17th Century at the hands of Napoleon in 1806, and the ceding of Dubrovnik to Hapsburg control in 1815 were each steps in a decline which was finally to be reversed in the 20th Century as tourism began to flourish in the region.
Learn more about the things to do in Dubrovnik, the history of Croatia, and discover Villa Antipodes your luxury Dubrovnik accommodation.