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Dubrovnik / Ragusa of Dalmatia: the pearl of the Adriatic

This article is also available in: Italian

Located in the far south of Croatia, near the border with Montenegro, Dubrovnik / Ragusa of Dalmatia is undoubtedly the most beautiful city in Croatia. In 1979 it was included by UNESCO on the list of world heritage sites of humanity.


The city of Ragusium was founded in 614, by a Latin population from the Roman cities of Epidaurum, today’s Cavtat / Ragusavecchia and Salona, a few kilometers north-east of Split. In the Middle Ages, although officially part of the Byzantine Empire, Ragusa and the other Dalmatian cities began to pay tribute to the Duke of Croatia.

Starting from the year 1000, the city was briefly under Venice and subsequently became a Norman possession. Only in 1167 the control of the Byzantine Empire extended again along the Dalmatian coast and over the city, but for a short time, in fact, Byzantium lost the city, in 1204, during the IV crusade and it entered among the Venetian possessions to which it remained linked until the mid-fourteenth century.


For a short period, between 1358-1382, it became part of the Kingdom of Hungary, and then became an independent maritime republic, one of the Italian maritime republics, with Pisa, Genoa, Venice and Amalfi. The Republic of Ragusa was structured in an oligarchic way, dominated by the noble class, and had Italian as its official language for its entire duration.

Thanks to trade, the importance of Ragusa grew, becoming one of the main trading partners of the Ottoman Empire. The merchant fleet of Ragusa in the period of maximum splendor, between the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries came to count over 500 boats. The port of Raguasa was heavily used by Florentine traders who sent their goods to the Ottoman Empire. In the 15th century the Dubrovnik area expanded by acquiring the Pelješac peninsula, and subsequently Konavle and the town of Cavtat (Ragusavecchia).

The commercial destiny of Ragusa was closely linked to that of the Ottoman Empire. With the Turkish defeat at the gates of Vienna (1683), and even before with the terrible earthquake that hit the city in 1667, and with the development of trade with the Americas, the city lost its role and much of its trade. The Republic remained alive until 1806, when Napoleon conquered it, and then officially suppressed it on January 31, 1808.


After Napoleon’s defeat, Ragusa became part of the Hapsburg Empire, to which it remained linked for about one hundred years (1814-1918). After the defeat of the First World War and the end of the Habsburg Empire, Ragusa, now called Dubrovnik, became part of the kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (Yugoslavia starting from 1929). During the Second World War, between 1941 and 1943 it was occupied by Italian troops, then after 8 September 1943 it was occupied by the Germans. After the end of the war Dubrovnik / Ragusa was incorporated into Yugoslavia and then in 1991 it became part of independent Croatia. The historical center. The walls. When to go.



This article is also available in: Italian

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