“If you want to see a Heaven on Earth, come to Dubrovnik“ – George Bernard Shaw
Fronting the Adriatic Sea, in the southeast of Croatia, with more than 4 million tourists making their pilgrimage there, the city of Dubrovnik is one of the most prominent tourist destinations in the Mediterranean. Thanks to the HBO Game of Thrones hit series, it is now widely known as the King’s Landing and -spoiler alert- it was not levelled down by the dragon, it is still there for you to visit and behold its wonders.
Despite its popularity and modern tourist craze, Dubrovnik was actually at its highest both in power and wealth centuries ago, during the medieval times, when it was known as the Republic of Ragusa, or shorter the Republic.
Due to its strategic location, the Republic quickly became a junction point for many trade routes between East and West
The Republic Of Ragusa
Heavily armed fort of Saint John guards the port from the archrival Venetians and the pesky pirates
A long time ago, around the 7th century, while running from the tribe of the violent Slavs, a group of Roman refugees took shelter on a small rocky island and made their stand there. Angry Slavs erected their camp on the mainland and eventually, one eternity later, started to trade and cooperate with the islanders until they merged into one community and came upon an idea to build an immense fortification system around their new joint venture. Walls went up and the channel between the island and mainland was dried and paved, creating the main street called Stradun.
Stradun, the main street which used to be a sea channel
The Republic never had any formidable military to speak of, but nevertheless it conquered the Mediterranean by means of trade, business and unparalleled diplomacy. A thousand years ago the world was much smaller, and due to its strategic location the Republic quickly became an important junction point of the trade routes between Europe and Asia, always dancing on the razor edge between the world’s superpowers of East and West, while constantly fending off other competitors in the battle for naval trade domination, one in particular, their archenemy, the Republic of Venice.
Dubrovnik was the only one of the Dalmatian towns that looked straight out onto the Adriatic, which in turn enabled early warnings of approaching danger from the sea
The Quest For Freedom
The Republic’s unique approach to ruling, business and diplomacy laid ground for other progressive ideas, ideas unheard of at such times, the idea of freedom for all. To this date, the city motto remains: ‘Non Bene Pro Toto Libertas Venditur Auro’ – ‘Liberty is not sold for all the gold in the world’ and it can be found carved in stone above the door leading into the fort Lovrijenac.
With thick impenetrable walls, the standalone fort of Lovrijenac (St. Lawrence) is yet another remarkable monument made to be feared and marveled
To prove their commitment and belief in the idea, in the 1416 the Republic was first in the world to ban slavery, 417 years before Great Britain and 449 years before United States. It’s also interesting to note that the Republic was among the first of the foreign countries to recognize the independence of the United States.
Dominican Monastery was strategically built against the city walls in order to strengthen north-eastern flank
Interesting History Facts
In 1979, the old city of Dubrovnik, which includes a substantial portion of the city walls, joined the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.
The city council had an iron rule not to discuss or make any important decisions during the foul weather marked by the south – southeast wind named sirocco which comes from the Sahara and causes storms in the Mediterranean Sea, and cool wet weather in Europe.
Nowhere near the Great Wall of China, with an uninterrupted course of 1,940 metres in length, Dubrovnik’s city walls are the largest and most complete complex structure of this kind in Europe
The Old Pharmacy in the Franciscan Monastery in Dubrovnik is one of the oldest pharmacies in Europe, and after 700 years it is still in use.
As an active merchant city-state, in 1377 the Republic was first in the world to impose mandatory quarantine of thirty days with imposed penalties for all merchants, sailors, and goods arriving from “suspicious lands”. This decision was made after Dubrovnik was struck by the plague outbreak in 1348 which killed a few thousand citizens.
The penalties for not complying with the mandatory quarantine were 100 ducats or prison sentence and severe corporal punishment
While the streets of other European cities like London and Paris were flooded with feces, Dubrovnik was one of the first medieval towns with a working sewage system which has been operating to this date since 1296.
In the nearby vicinity of Dubrovnik, Trsteno Arboretum is the oldest arboretum in Europe dating from 1498. To irrigate the arboretum a 70 meter long aqueduct was constructed; and to this day it is still in use.
Neptune fountain in Trsteno Arboretum is supplied by the 70 meter aqueduct built in 1498
The most famous ship to come out of the Dubrovnik shipyards was the so called Argosy, the name given by the citizens of Great Britain, who would marvel at the size and handicraft of these vessels when they docked the ports in Southampton and Portsmouth. The word argosy is actually a distortion of the word Ragusa. Shakespeare used the word in the Merchant of Venice to describe these wide, wooden ships which would sail across the Mediterranean.
The Oxford English Dictionary describes Argosy as “a large merchant ship, originally one from Ragusa (now Dubrovnik) or Venice.”
The Curse Of Lokrum Island
The curse: “Whosoever claims Lokrum for his own personal pleasure shall be damned!”
In the swimming distance of the sculpted city there is the evergreen island of Lokrum, or Lacroma, a beloved get-away destination for both tourists and locals that can be reached by one of the two twin ferry boats.
To a newcomer the uninhabited island may look like and feel like a long sought paradise on Earth, a place where one could wish to stay forever, but behind its beautiful surface, dark and terrible depth awaits anyone who transgresses its imaginary harmless nature.
Built out of wood 50 years ago, and specially made to dock shallow waters of the island port, two twin ferry boats are used to transport visitors on and off the paradise island
Who cursed it? Why was it cursed? It’s a long and interesting story that deserves its own blog-post. But if you are reading this and just happen to be in the Dubrovnik, heed this warning because it might save your life: do not take anything from the island, not even a pebble, and under no circumstances think about spending a night there. Ye be warned.
From Marooned_Marin :
Ferry Boats Built over a half a century ago, unique in design and specially made to dock shallow waters of the island port, twins Skala and Zrinski have transported more than several million visitors, both residents and tourists, on and off the beloved island.
Today, after 50 years of loyal service, two wooden ferries are more than means of transportation as they grew out to be a hidden bond between the residents’ heart and soul, one being the city and other the island
According to the prototype of twin ferry boats, Design Marooned_ Marin have designed Ferry Boat. Is it highly restored?
Our designer Marooned_ Marin is from Croatia. This exquisite article was written by him . The friends who are interested in tourism , local culture ir legend in Croatia can contact him to learn more real information.