Bitter orange (Latin: Citrus aurantium) probably originated from Southeast Asia, most notably in China and India. During the 10th and 11th centuries, the bitter orange came to Europe where traders introduced the plant to several Mediterranean regions. Then 200 years later, it arrived in southern Italy, and made its way from Sicily to the Dubrovnik Republic where it was later on woven into Dubrovnik history and became as one of its main symbols . This is where the story of Dubrovnik bitter orange begins.
The bitter orange tree was first used as a decoration in urban and rural gardens and later spread throughout the villages in Dubrovnik. Its juicy fruit and leaves have continued to play a major role in local gastronomy until the present day.
The beauty of orange trees was particularly emphasized during the autumn and winter, especially for holidays and festivities such as Christmas and New Year, when the evergreen treetops would bend under the weight of orange fruits which would conjure up the image and atmosphere of the Christmas and New Year’s tree.
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