CROATIA : DUBROVNIK
Dubrovnik , also lovingly named “pearl of the Adriatic”, is an old city
on the Dalmatian coast in the extreme south of Croatia.
From the 13th century onwards, Dubrovnik has been an important
Mediterranean sea power. In 1667 the city was severely damaged by an
earthquake, but it managed to preserve its beautiful Gothic, Renaissance
and Baroque churches, monasteries, palaces and fountains. Damaged again
in the 1990s by armed conflict, it is now the focus of a major
restoration programme co-ordinated by UNESCO. The
population of Dubrovnik was 43,770 in 2001, 49,728 in 1991, and the
majority of its citizens are Croats with 88.39% (2001 census).
It was an independent, merchant republic for 700 years (abolished
by Napoleon in 1806), it traded with Turkey and India in the East (with
a consul in Goa, India) and had trade representatives in Africa (Cape
The city’s wealth was based on maritime trade; in the Middle Ages, it
became the only eastern Adriatic city-state to rival Venice. Supported
by its wealth and skilled diplomacy, the Latin/Slavic Ragusa/Dubrovnik
achieved a remarkable level of development during the 15th and 16th
century. In 1815, by the resolution of Congress of Vienna, Dubrovnik
was annexed to Austria (from 1867 on Austria-Hungary), and remained in
the Kingdom of Dalmatia until 1918. During that time its official name
was 'Ragusa'. Then it became part of Yugoslavia from 1929 onwards. From
April 1941 until September 1943, Dubrovnik was occupied by the Italian
army and after that by the Germans. Despite the 1970s demilitarization
of the old town by in an attempt to prevent it from becoming a casualty
of war, Following Croatia's independence in 1991, the Yugoslav People's
Army attacked and surrounded the city on October 1, 1991 and the siege
lasted until May 1992. The heaviest artillery attack happened on
December 6 with 19 people killed and 60 wounded. Total casualty in the
conflict on this area according to the Croatian Red Cross were 114
killed civilians, among them the celebrated poet Milan Milisic .
Following the end of the war, a major rebuilding project led by the
Croatian authorities and UNESCO began.
The 13th century old town has not changed much compared to
medieval times. Tall ramparts surround it and there are only two
entrances to the old town which lead to the Stradun, the city's
promenade with its cosy cafes.. In 1992 considerable damage was caused
to the city centre. Local efforts and international aid, however,
restored the old town to its former beauty. The old town can be entered
through the Pile Gate - in front of which is the Stradun with the
Onofrio Fountain, built in 1438. On the right is the Franciscan
Monastery, with one of the oldest functioning pharmacies in Europe, in
operation since 1391. At the other end of the Stradun is the locals'
favourite meeting place, the Orlando Column, with the nearby Sponza
Place and the baroque church of St. Blaise. Here is also the Rector's
Palace, built in 1441, which is now a city museum packed with valuable
and historic exhibits. “Gunduliceva Poljana” square is the site of the
busy morning market. In the same square is the Jesuit Monastery from the
early 18th century.