Dubrovnik (, , Ragoùsa) is a city on the Adriatic Sea coast of Croatia, positioned at the terminal end of the Isthmus of Dubrovnik. It is one of the most prominent tourist destinations on the Adriatic, a seaport and the centre of Dubrovnik-Neretva county. Its total population is 42,641 (census 2011). In 1979, the city of Dubrovnik joined the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.
The prosperity of the city of Dubrovnik has always been based on maritime trade. In the Middle Ages, as the Republic of Ragusa, also known as a Maritime Republic (together with Amalfi, Pisa, Genoa, Venice and other Italian cities), it became the only eastern Adriatic city-state to rival Venice. Supported by its wealth and skilled diplomacy, the city achieved a high level of development, particularly during the 15th and 16th centuries.
The beginning of tourism in Dubrovnik is often associated with the construction of the late 19th-century luxury hotels in Croatia, such as Grand Hotel (1890) in Opatija and the Hotel Imperial (1897) in Dubrovnik. According to CNNGo, Dubrovnik is among the 10 best medieval walled cities in the world. Although Dubrovnik was demilitarised in the 1970s to protect it from war, in 1991, after the breakup of Yugoslavia, it was besieged by Serb-Montenegrin forces for seven months and received significant shelling damage.
Historical lore indicates that Ragusa (Dubrovnik) was founded in the 7th century on a rocky island named Laus, which provided shelter for refugees from the nearby city of Epidaurum.
Another theory appeared recently, based on new archaeological excavations. New findings (a Byzantine basilica from the 8th century and parts of the city walls) contradict the traditional theory. The size of the old basilica clearly indicates that there was quite a large settlement at the time. There is also increasing support in the scientific community for the theory that major construction of Ragusa took place before the Common Era. This "Greek theory" has been boosted by recent findings of numerous Greek artefacts during excavations in the Port of Dubrovnik. Also, drilling below the main city road has revealed natural sand, contradicting the theory of Laus (Lausa) island.
Dr Antun Ničetić, in his book, expounds the theory that Dubrovnik was established by Greek sailors. A key element in this theory is the fact that ships in ancient times travelled about per day, and required a sandy shore to pull out of water for the rest period during the night. The ideal rest site would have fresh water source in its vicinity. Dubrovnik has both, and is situated almost halfway between the two known Greek settlements of Budva and Korčula, apart from each other.
After the fall of the Ostrogothic Kingdom, the town came under the protection of the Byzantine Empire. Ragusa in those mediaeval centuries had a population of Latinized Illyrians. After the Crusades, Ragusa came under the sovereignty of Venice (1205–1358), which would give its institutions to the Dalmatian city. After a fire destroyed almost the whole city in the night of August 16, 1296, a new urban plan was developed. By the Peace Treaty of Zadar in 1358, Ragusa achieved relative independence as a vassal-state of the Kingdom of Hungary.
Between the 14th century and 1808, Ragusa ruled itself as a free state, although it was a vassal from 1440 to 1804 of the Ottoman Empire and paid an annual tribute to its sultan. The Republic reached its peak in the 15th and 16th centuries, when its thalassocracy rivalled that of the Republic of Venice and other Italian maritime republics.
For centuries, the Republic of Ragusa was an ally of Ancona, the other Adriatic maritime republic rival of Venice, which was the Ottoman Empire's chief rival for control of the Adriatic. This alliance enabled the two towns set on opposite sides of the Adriatic to resist attempts by the Venetians to make the Adriatic a "Venetian Bay", also said to control directly or indirectly all the Adriatic ports. Ancona and Ragusa developed an alternative trade route to the Venetian (Venice-Germany-Austria): this route started from the East, passed through Ragusa and Ancona, then interested Florence and finally Flanders.
The Republic of Ragusa received its own Statutes as early as 1272, statutes which, among other things, codified Roman practice and local customs. The Statutes included prescriptions for town planning and the regulation of quarantine (for sanitary reasons).
The Republic was an early adopter of what are now regarded as modern laws and institutions: a medical service was introduced in 1301, with the first pharmacy, still operating to this day, being opened in 1317. An almshouse was opened in 1347, and the first quarantine hospital (Lazarete) was established in 1377. Slave trading was abolished in 1418, and an orphanage opened in 1432. A water supply system was constructed in 1436.
The city was ruled by the local aristocracy which was of Latin-Dalmatian extraction and formed two city councils. As usual for the time, they maintained a strict system of social classes. The republic abolished the slave trade early in the 15th century and valued liberty highly. The city successfully balanced its sovereignty between the interests of Venice and the Ottoman Empire for centuries.
The languages spoken by the people were the Romance Dalmatian and Croatian. The latter started to replace Dalmatian little by little since the 11th century among the common people who inhabited the city.
Italian and Venetian would become important languages of culture and trade in the Republic of Ragusa. The Italian language replaced Latin as official language of the Republic of Ragusa from 1472 until the end of the republic itself. At the same time, due to a pacific cohabitation with the Slavic element and the influence of Italian culture during the Renaissance, Ragusa became a cradle of Croatian literature.
Many Conversos, Jews from Spain and Portugal, were attracted to the city. In May 1544, a ship landed there filled exclusively with Portuguese refugees, as Balthasar de Faria reported to King John. During this time there worked in the city one of the most famous cannon and bell founders of his time: Ivan Rabljanin (Magister Johannes Baptista Arbensis de la Tolle). Already in 1571 Dubrovnik sold its protectorate over some Christian settlements in other parts of the Ottoman Empire to France and Venice. At that time there was also a colony of Dubrovnik in Fes in Morocco. The bishop of Dubrovnik was a Cardinal protector in 1571. Cardinal protectors were only in 16 other countries, too, in 1571, namely in France, Spain, Austria, Portugal, Poland, England, Scotland, Ireland, Naples, Sicily, Sardinia, Savoy, Lucca, Greece, Illyria, Armenia and Lebanon.
In 1806, the city surrendered to the Napoleonic army, as that was the only way to end a month long siege by the Russian-Montenegrin fleets (during which 3,000 cannonballs fell on the city). At first, Napoleon demanded only free passage for his troops, promising not to occupy the territory and stressing that the French were friends of the Ragusans. Later, however, French forces blockaded the harbours, forcing the government to give in and let French troops enter the city. On this day, all flags and coats of arms above the city walls were painted black as a sign of mourning. In 1808, Marshal Marmont abolished the republic and integrated its territory first into Napoleon's Kingdom of Italy and later into the Illyrian provinces under French rule. This was to last until the 28th January 1814 when the city surrendered to Captain Sir William Hoste leading a body of British and Austrian troops who were besieging the fortress.
The official language until 1472 was Latin. Later, the Senate of the Republic decided that the official language of the Republic would be the Ragusan dialect of the Romance Dalmatian language, and forbade the use of the Slavic language in senatorial debate. The Gospari (the Aristocracy) held on to their language for many centuries, while it slowly disappeared.
Although the Latin language was in official use, inhabitants of the republic were mostly native speakers of Slavonic languages (as confirmed by count Pyotr Andreyevich Tolstoy in 1698, when he noted "In Dalmatia [...] Ragusans [...] call themselves Croats"). The Dalmatian language was also spoken in the city.
The Italian language as spoken in the republic was heavily influenced by the Venetian language and the Tuscan dialect. Italian took root among the Dalmatian Romance-speaking merchant upper classes, as a result of Venetian influence.
When the Habsburg Empire annexed these provinces after the 1815 Congress of Vienna, the new authorities implemented a bureaucratic administration, established the Kingdom of Dalmatia, which had its own Sabor (Diet) or Parliament, based in the city of Zadar, and political parties such as the Autonomist Party and the People's Party. They introduced a series of modifications intended to slowly centralize the bureaucratic, tax, religious, educational, and trade structure. Unfortunately for the local residents, these steps largely failed, despite the intention of wanting to stimulate the economy. And once the personal, political and economic damage of the Napoleonic Wars had been overcome, new movements began to form in the region, calling for a political reorganization of the Adriatic along the national lines.
The combination of these two forces—a flawed Habsburg administrative system and new national movement claiming ethnicity as the founding block toward a community—posed a particularly perplexing problem; since Dalmatia was a province ruled by the German-speaking Habsburg monarchy, with bilingual (Slavic- and Italian-speaking) elites that dominated the general population consisting of a Slavic Catholic majority (and a Slavic Orthodox minority of not more than 300 people).
In 1815, the former Ragusan Government (its noble assembly) met for the last time in Ljetnikovac in Mokošica. Once again, extreme measures were taken to re-establish the Republic, but it was all in vain. After the fall of the Republic most of the aristocracy was recognized by the Austrian Empire.
In 1832, Baron Šišmundo Getaldić-Gundulić (Italian: Sigismondo Ghetaldi-Gondola) was (1795–1860) was elected podestà of Dubrovnik, serving for 13 years; the Austrian government granted him the title of "Baron".
Count Rafael Pucić (Raffaele Pozza), Dr. Jur., (1828–90) was elected for first time Podestà of Dubrovnik in the year 1869 after this was re-elected in 1872, 1875, 1882, 1884) and elected twice into the Dalmatian Council, 1870, 1876. The victory of the Nationalists in Split (Spalato) in 1882 strongly affected in the areas of Korčula and Dubrovnik. It was greeted by the mayor (podestà) of Dubrovnik Rafael Pucić, the National Reading Club of Dubrovnik, the Workers Association of Dubrovnik and the review "Slovinac"; by the communities of Kuna and Orebić, the latter one getting the nationalist government even before Split.
The Austrian and Austro-Hungarian rule that followed folloved the Divide et impera policy. The Austrian policy of denationalizing the Dalmatian coasts left its mark in the political division of the population as best expressed in the political parties: the Croatian People's Party and the mostly Italianite Autonomous Party.
In 1889, the Serbian-Catholics circle supported Baron Francesco Ghetaldi-Gondola, the candidate of the Autonomous Party, vs the candidate of Popular Party Vlaho de Giulli, in the 1890 election to the Dalmatian Diet. The following year, during the local government election, the Autonomous Party won the municipal re-election with Francesco Gondola, who died in power in 1899. The alliance won the election again on 27 May 1894. Francesco Ghetaldi-Gondola founded the Società Philately on 4 December 1890.
In 1905, the Committee for establishing electric tram service, headed by m. Luko Bunić – certainly one of the most deserving persons who contributed to the realisation of the project - was established. Other members of the Committee were: Ivo Papi, Dr. Miho Papi, Dr. Artur Saraka, Mato Šarić, Dr. Antun Pugliesi, Dr. Mato Gracić, Dr. Ivo Degiulli, Ernest Katić and Antun Milić.
Pero Čingrija (1837–1921), one of the leaders of the People's Party in Dalmatia, played the main role in the merger of the People's Party and the Party of Right into a single Croatian Party in 1905.
With the fall of Austria–Hungary in 1918, the city was incorporated into the new Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes (later the Kingdom of Yugoslavia). The name of the city was officially changed from Ragusa to Dubrovnik.
During World War II, Dubrovnik became part of the Nazi allied Independent State of Croatia, occupied by the Italian army first, and by the German army after 8 September 1943. In October 1944 Tito's partisans entered Dubrovnik, and it became consequently part of Communist Yugoslavia. Soon after their arrival into the city, partisans executed approximately 78 influential and well known citizens without a trial, including Catholic priests, on the nearby island of Daksa. Communist leadership during the next several years continued the prosecution of Croats which culminated on 12 April 1947 with the capture and imprisonment of more than 90 citizens of Dubrovnik.
Break-up of Yugoslavia
In 1991 Croatia and Slovenia, which at that time were republics within Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, declared their independence. At that event, Socialist Republic of Croatia was renamed Republic of Croatia.
Despite demilitarization of the old town in early 1970s in an attempt to prevent it from ever becoming a casualty of war, following Croatia's independence in 1991, Serbian-Montenegrin remains of the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) attacked the city. The regime in Montenegro led by president of Montenegro, Momir Bulatović, and Prime minister of Montenegro, Milo Đukanović, which was installed by and loyal to the Serbian government led by Slobodan Milošević, declared that Dubrovnik would not be permitted to remain in Croatia because they claimed it was historically part of Montenegro. This was in spite of the large Croat majority in the city and that very few Montenegrins resided there, though Serbs accounted for six percent of the population. Many consider the claims by the Bulatović-Đukanović government, as being part of Serbian President Milošević's plan to deliver his nationalist supporters the Greater Serbia they desired as Yugoslavia collapsed.
On October 1, 1991 Dubrovnik was attacked by JNA with a siege of Dubrovnik that lasted for seven months. The heaviest artillery attack was on December 6 with 19 people killed and 60 wounded. Total casualties in the conflict according to Croatian Red Cross were 114 killed civilians, among them celebrated poet Milan Milisić. Foreign newspapers have been criticised for exaggerating the damage sustained by the old town, instead of responding to human casualties. Nonetheless, the artillery attacks on Dubrovnik damaged 56% of its buildings to some degree, as the historic walled city, a UNESCO world heritage site, sustained 650 hits by artillery rounds. In May 1992 the Croatian Army lifted the siege and liberated Dubrovnik's surroundings, but the danger of sudden attacks by the JNA lasted for another three years.
Following the end of the war, damage caused by the shelling of the Old Town was repaired. Adhering to UNESCO guidelines, repairs were performed in the original style. , most damage had been repaired. The inflicted damage can be seen on a chart near the city gate, showing all artillery hits during the siege, and is clearly visible from high points around the city in the form of the more brightly coloured new roofs. ICTY indictments were issued for JNA generals and officers involved in the bombing.
General Pavle Strugar, who coordinated the attack on the city, was sentenced to an eight-year prison term by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia for his role in the attack.
The 1996 Croatia USAF CT-43 crash, near Dubrovnik Airport, killed everyone on a United States Air Force jet with United States Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown, The New York Times Frankfurt Bureau chief Nathaniel C. Nash and 33 other people.