Along the coast of Dalmatia, in its southern part, near the border with Montenegro, is the jewel of Croatia, the city of Ragusa of Dalmatia, called Dubrovnik in the Croatian language. The city is characterized by a beautiful old town remained virtually unchanged over the centuries and which is completely surrounded by beautiful medieval town walls. The whole old town of Dubrovnik, since 1979, is part of the World Heritage Site List of UNESCO.
THE STORY OF RAGUSA OF DALMATIA
Ragusa originated after the fall of the Roman Empire, when in the seventh century – to protect themselves from the barbarians – the inhabitants of the Roman city of Epidaurum, today’s Cavtat (Ragusavecchia), took refuge on a small island located a few meters from the shore and began to build the houses and fences of defense. From this small settlement, which initially was put under the protection of Byzantium, was developed in the following centuries an important maritime republic on the model of other Italian maritime republics (Pisa, Venice, Genoa and Amalfi).
After the Fourth Crusade (1204), Ragusa was controlled by Venice and it remained a Venetian possession until 1358, when as a result of the Peace of Zadar, the city managed to escape the Venetian control and become de facto independent. The ancient maritime republic of Ragusa, was the rival of Venice in trade between East and West, becoming the main commercial port in the southern Adriatic, during this period of the history of the city were built strong walls, that in the twelfth century had already the looks that still remain.
The Republic of Ragusa in the heyday (the 15th and 16th century) controlled the Dalmatian coast from the entrance to the Bay of Kotor and up to Ston (Stagno), over the entire peninsula of Peljesac (Sabbioncello) and Elaphiti (Elafiti), Mljet (Meleda) and Lastov (Lagosta) Islands. Ragusa traded with Egypt, Asia Minor, the Black Sea, Greece, Sicily, Tuscany, Provence. The Republic of Dubrovnik was abolished in 1808 during the Napoleonic occupation.
Latin and Italian were the official and spoken languages of the Ragusa Republic since its founding. The current Croatian name of Dubrovnik supplanted the Italian name of Ragusa di Dalmazia only in 1919 when the city was annexed to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.
WHAT TO SEE IN DUBROVNIK (RAGUSA OF DALMATIA): TOURIST ATTRACTIONS
Ragusa (Dubrovnik) is without a doubt the most beautiful city in Croatia. This city is known by the nickname “Pearl of the Adriatic” and is famous for its medieval walls which still surround it completely for almost 2 km. Its walls are among the most beautiful and best preserved examples of medieval fortification of the Mediterranean coasts. There are fortresses, towers, bastions that form a mighty defensive system that completely surrounds the historic center of the city.
The city deserves a very thorough visit. Beyond the Pile Gate, there is the large Onofrio fountain from the 15th century and the Franciscan monastery. From here, if you do not want to climb the city walls immediately, it is better to continue along the main street, the Stradun, which crosses the city to the Loggia Square (Luza). The most important buildings in Ragusa (Dubrovnik) overlook the Loggia Square (Luza): the Sponza Palace, the Loggia, the Gran Guardia Palace and the church of St. Blaise (San Biagio/Sv Vlaho). From here you reach the Rector’s Palace, seat of the Republic of Ragusa, and which today houses an interesting museum dedicated to the history of the city. Nearby is the 17th century Baroque Cathedral of the Assumption (Velika Gospa).
Continuing from the Loggia square towards the other monumental city gate, the Ploce Gate, you reach the Dominican Monastery built in the 14th century. This monastery preserves a beautiful Gothic cloister and an interesting art museum. Interesting are also the visits to the old port, to the Rupe building, an ancient barn, to the baroque church of St. Ignatius, and to the Museum of the Sea and the Aquarium. The latter located inside the Fort St. John (San Giovanni).
THE WALK ALONG THE WALLS
The walk along the walls of Ragusa (Dubrovnik) is one of the things not to be missed during a visit of the city. From the top of the walls you can admire fantastic and complete views of the architectural beauty of the medieval center, and unparalleled scenarios of the port and coast.
Along the side towards the sea, the thickness of the walls varies on average between 3 meters and 2 meters. While on the ground side it varies between 4 and 6 meters. Furthermore, on the land side Ragusa (Dubrovnik) is protected by a double wall, which in some points exceeds 25 meters in height, this makes it an idea where the problems for the city came from.
Along the defensive perimeter there are 15 towers. The walls are also protected by three fortresses, the fort of St. John (San Giovanni/Sveti Ivan) which dominates the port, the Revelin which defends the Ploce Gate, and the fort of St. Lawrence (San Lorenzo/Lovrijenac) which controls the western part.