History of Dubrovnik, sightseeing and events
Dubrovnik is one of the most beautiful cities on the Croatian coast. In the middle ages the Republic of Dubrovnik was an important rival of Venice. Many buildings in the old city center testify of this glorious past and to its Venetian influence.
The walls of Dubrovnik girdle a perfectly preserved complex of public and private, sacral and secular buildings representing all periods of the city’s history, beginning with its founding in the 7th century. Particular mention should be made of the city’s main street, Stradun, the Prince’s Palace, the church of St Vlaho, the Cathedral, three large monasteries, the Custom’s Office and the City Hall. The Republic of Dubrovnik was the centre of a separate Croatian political and territorial entity, and was proud of its culture, its achievements in commerce and especially of its freedom, preserved down so many tempestuous centuries.
The History of Dubrovnik
From its establishment the town was under the protection of the Byzantine Empire that helped Dubrovnik in the wars against Saracens (886- 887), Bulgarian-Macedonians (988), and Serbs (1184). After the Crusades Dubrovnik came under the sovereignty of Venice (1205-1358) and by the Peace Treaty of Zadar in 1358 it became part of the Hungarian-Croatian Kingdom. Having been granted the entire self-government, bound to pay only a tribute to the king and providing assistance with its fleet, Dubrovnik started its life as a free state that reached its peak in the 15th and 16th centuries. In 1526 Dubrovnik acknowledged the supremacy of the Turkish Sultan (annual tribute was paid to the Sultan). A crisis of Mediterranean shipping and especially a catastrophic earthquake on the 6th of April 1667 that killed over 5000 citizens, including the Rector, leveling most of the public buildings, ruined the well-being of the Republic.
With great effort the Republic recovered a bit, but still remained a shadow of the former Republic. In 1806 Dubrovnik surrendered to French forces, as that was the only way to cut a month’s long siege by the Russian-Montenegrin fleets (during which 3000 cannon balls fell on the city). The French lifted the Russian-Montenegrin fleets and saved Dubrovnik for the time being. The French army, led by Napoleon, entered Dubrovnik in 1806 In 1808 Marshal Marmot abolished the Dubrovnik Republic.
In 1809 Dubrovnik become part of the Illyrian Provinces. In 1815, by the resolution of Vienna Congress, Dubrovnik was annexed to Austria (later Austria-Hungary), and remained annexed until 1918 when it became part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes. In 1945 Dubrovnik became part of the Federative People’s Republic of Yugoslavia. Dubrovnik was part of the Socialistic Republic of Croatia. In 1990 the republics of the Croatia reached independence. At October 1, 1991 Dubrovnik was brutally attacked by the Serb-Montenegrin army. The Serb-Montenegrin siege of Dubrovnik lasted for seven months, and in May 1992 the Croatian Army liberated Dubrovnik and its surroundings. Today, Dubrovnik is a free and safe town, worldly known, and the most popular tourist destination in Croatia.
The Territory of Dubrovnik Republic
As it had good relations with its neighbors, Dubrovnik was allowed to trade, trading both in the Orient and the Mediterranean. With numerous countries and towns it had special agreements and was not paying taxes on goods sold or transported through some countries. During several centuries Dubrovnik grew into the most powerful economic center in the south of the Adriatic and it developed a powerful fleet of merchant and war ships. Dubrovnik had over 200 merchant ships called Argosy.
At the Golden Period of Dubrovnik the territory of the Republic extended from Klek-Neum in the north to Sutorina (Boka Kotorska) in the south and a few kilometers inland. It included the islands of Šipan, Lopud and Kolocep (after 1080), Mljet (1141) and
Lastovo (1216), the ancient town of Ston (1298) and the Pelješac Peninsula (1399). The coastal territory of the Republic without islands was approximately 120 kilometers in length.
Dubrovnik Republic also ruled Korcula, Brac and Hvar for a brief period (1414-1417), but was forced to release them to Venice.
Dubrovnik’s Summer Festival
Dubrovnik’s Summer Festival is the largest and most celebrated cultural event in Croatia: an irresistible outpouring of music, theatre and dance that attracts an all-star line up of international performers and an ever-increasing number of visitors to the unique setting of the indoor and open-air stages of the Renaissance/Baroque city.
There are many doyens of the international music scene who have taken part in this manifestation that lasts for 56 years.
Performances of renowned European and world’s names of drama (Peter Brook with Hamlet and Nekrošius’ Othello…), ballet and classic music made Dubrovnik Summer Festival become an event that exceeded the borders of Croatia and made it the most significant Croatian heritage exportation brand.
Located at the open space right to Pile gate. It is a 16-sided drinking fountain built by Onofrio de la Cava (1438 – 1444). The Fountain is part of the town’s water supply system which Onofrio managed to create by bringing the water from the well in Rijeka Dubrovacka. The well is located 20 km from Big Onofrio’s Fountain and this construction was a masterpiece of that time.
The City Walls are among the finest and most complete in Europe. They protected the freedom of Dubrovnik Republic for centuries. They surround the entire Old City with their 1940 meters of length and up to 25 meters of height. The whole City Wall complex was built from the 8th until the 16th century, consisting of an inner and outer section. There are five bastions, 3 circular and 12 square and rectangular towers, two corner towers, and one huge fortress. The outer section of City Walls consists of a lower wall, having 10 semicircular bastions built by the famous Italian architect Michelozzo. The town is defended by two more separate fortresses, at Revelin on the eastern side and Lovrijenac on the southwest side. The moat ran around the outside section of the City Walls.
Dubrovnik’s Cathedral stands in the center of Marin Držic Poljana, close to Rector’s Palace. The first Dubrovnik Cathedral was built from the 12th to the 14th century in Romanesque style. It was destroyed in the Great Earthquake in 1667 and the present Cathedral was built on its place. The reconstruction of the Cathedral was done by Buffalini (1671), Andreotti, Napoli, and finally finished by Katicic in 1713.
This Romanesque Baroque style Cathedral is a three-hall building which contains a rich treasury and a line of paintings by top masters. The interior is light and spacious and accommodates paintings of old masters such as Titian’s large polyptych of the Assumption, Padovanino’s four paintings Andrea del Sarto’s works, etc. The Cathedral’s Treasury is situated in the beautiful baroque chapel designed by Gropelli and painted by Mattei Matejevic. The Treasury consists of 138 reliquaries, most of which are traditionally carried in procession round the city on the feast of St. Blaise (February, 3).
On the altar stand the three major reliquaries of St. Blaise: the Reliquary of the Skull in the form of a Byzantine crown of enamel and silver filigree work.