History of Dubrovnik

Nestled between the high cliffs of Srđ Hill and the deep-blue Adriatic Sea, Dubrovnik has been described as heaven on Earth by many poets, travellers and sailors. Historical records suggest that the city was built in the 6th century, after the arrival of the Slavs and Avars, and the downfall of the then-important city of Epidaurum (today’s Cavtat). Later inhabitants of the former Epidaurum and Ragusium – the area now known as Dubrovnik – established separate governments and developed friendly relations between the two settlements.

The Dubrovnik Republic was founded in the 14th century, precipitating a rapid growth. Walls, towers and forts sprung up and, over the following centuries, Dubrovnik became a powerful naval force. While the region was busy establishing its independent status, within the city walls, the people built prolifically, bravely defending themselves from powerful sea-bound armies. It was during this era that Dubrovnik acquired the status of an impregnable city.  

At the same time, culture flourished in the city, particularly in the Renaissance period. This awakening of art, music, theatre and writing gave birth to some of the most exceptional individuals in Dubrovnik’s history, who left their mark on Croatian literature and the language itself. Dubrovnik enjoyed its freedom and independence until the 19th century, when Napoleon’s army arrived to conquer the city, amalgamating it with the rest of Dalmatia.

Nearly 200 years later, in the 1990s, Dubrovnik came under attack from the Yugoslav People’s Army. The siege lasted less than a year but it left an indelible mark on the city – more than two-thirds of the buildings in the Old Town had been bombed. Today, following a huge restoration project spanning more than a decade, the Old Town has been returned to its former glory.