Old City of Dubrovnik
The 'Pearl of the Adriatic', situated on the Dalmatian coast, became an important Mediterranean sea power from the 13th century onwards. Although severely damaged by an earthquake in 1667, Dubrovnik 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 'Pearl of the Adriatic', on the Dalmatian coast, was an important Mediterranean sea power from the 13th century onwards. Although severely damaged by an earthquake in 1667, Dubrovnik managed to preserve its beautiful Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque churches, monasteries, palaces and fountains.
Dubrovnik was founded in the first half of the 7th century by a group of refugees from Epidaurum, who established their settlement at the island and named it Laus. The Latin name Ragusa (Rausa), in use until the 15th century, originated from the rock (Lat. lausa = rock). Opposite that location, at the foot of Srđ Mountain, the Slavs developed their own settlement under the name of Dubrovnik, derived from the Croatian word dubrava, which means oak woods. When the channel that separated these two settlements was filled in the 12th century they were united. From the time of its establishment the town was under the protection of the Byzantine Empire; after the Fourth Crusade the city came under the sovereignty of Venice (1205-1358), and by the Treaty of Zadar in 1358 it became part of the Hungarian-Croatian Kingdom, when it was effectively a republican free state that reached its peak in the 15th and 16th centuries. An economic crisis in Mediterranean shipping and, more particularly, a catastrophic earthquake on April 1667 that levelled most of the public buildings, destroyed the well-being of the Republic. This powerful earthquake came as a turning point in the city's development.
Dubrovnik is a remarkably well-preserved example of a late-medieval walled city, with a regular street layout. Among the outstanding medieval, Renaissance and Baroque monuments within the magnificent fortifications and the monumental gates to the city are the Town Hall (now the Rector's Palace), dating from the 11th century; the Franciscan Monastery (completed in the 14th century, but now largely Baroque in appearance) with its imposing church; the extensive Dominican Monastery; the cathedral (rebuilt after the 1667 earthquake); the customs house (Sponza), the eclectic appearance of which reveals the fact that it is the work of several hands over many years; and a number of other Baroque churches, such as that of St Blaise (patron saint of the city).
The original World Heritage site consisted solely of the defences and the intra-mural city. It was later extended to include the Pile medieval industrial suburb, a planned development of the 15th century, and the Lovrijenac Fortress, located on a cliff, which was probably begun as early as the 11th century, but owes its present appearance to the 15th and 16th centuries. Also included were the Lazarets, built in the early 17th century to house potential plague-carriers from abroad, the late 15th-century Kase moles, built to protect the port against south-easterly gales, and the Revelin Fortress, dating from 1449, which was built to command the town moat on its northern side.
The island of Lokrum lies to the south-east of Dubrovnik, some 500 m from the coast. In 1023 it became a Benedictine abbey, the first of several in the Republic of Dubrovnik. It was continually enlarged in succeeding centuries, passing to the Congregation of St Justina of Padua in the late 15th century, when a new monastery was built in Gothic-Renaissance style to the south of the ruins of the Benedictine establishment. During their occupation of the island in the early 19th century the French began work on the construction of the Fort Royal Fortress, which was completed by the Austrians in the 1830s. In 1859 Archduke Maximilian of Austria (later Emperor of Mexico) bought the island with the intention of building a villa in classical style on the ruins of the Benedictine abbey, but only a small part of this work was completed.Source: UNESCO/CLT/WHC
The proposed extension to the west of the old city includes part of the Pile suburb, with the Brsalje plateau. It marks the point where a major road entered the Roman town that preceded medieval Dubrovnik, and archaeological excavations have revealed the presence there of a Palaeochristian basilica, as well as medieval cemeteries. The Lovrijenac Fortress, located on a cliff, is first mentioned in a document of 1301, but its defensive importance is such that it must have been built much earlier (as early as the 11th century according to some scholars). The fortress owes its present appearance to the 15th and 16th centuries.
The Pile suburb was a planned development of the 15th century, around a clearly defined industrial zone dating back to the 13th century. It was devoted to tanning and leather-working, the casting of cannon, soap manufacture,etc - activities which, for reasons of hygiene and security, were placed outside the walls but within the protection of the fortress. In the early 15th century an important dyeing industry developed in the area, and this was followed by other industries, such as glass-making, bell-casting, and weaving.
These industrial operations led to the construction of workers' houses, and the settlement had its own Church of St George, dating back to the 14th century but rebuilt in its present form in 1590. The Pile suburb has retained its original character, although some changes resulted from the building in the late 19th century of a new road linking Pile with Gruz and passing outside the ramparts of the medieval town. The area known as Iza Grada (Behind the city) lies outside the northern part of the ramparts, and has remained an open space, for defensive reasons, throughout the town I s history. The road joining Pile and Gruz marks its northern boundary.
On the eastern side of the old city lies Ploce, which has served as the centre for trade with the hinterland for centuries. The area proposed for the extension of the World Heritage Site lies to the south of the main road and includes the Lazarets and the Revelin Fortress.
The Kase moles were built around 1485 on the plans of paskoje Milicevic, the most famous Ragusan engineer of the Renaissance period, to protect the port against south-easterly gales while at the same time improving the facilities for controlling vessels approaching the town.
The building of the Lazarets began in 1627 and they were completed in 1648. Their siting at the eastern entrance to the city was practical: this is where traders and travellers would approach Dubrovnik from potentially plague-ridden parts of central Europe or the Orient. They have preserved their original appearance to a remarkable degree.
The Revelin Fortress, built to command the town moat on its northern side, dates from 1449, though its present appearance is that of the 16th century, when it was remodelled by the architect Antonio Ferramolino di Bergamo.
The island of Lokrum lies to the south-east of Dubrovnik, some 500 m from the coast. In 1023 it became a Benedictine abbey, the first of several in the Republic of Dubrovnik. The monastic complex (and especially the Church of the Virgin Mary, destroyed by the earthquake of 1667 and not rebuilt) was continually enlarged in succeeding centuries. Following the reform of the Benedictine Order in the later 15th century, the monastery passed to the Congregation of St Justina of Padua, which was responsible for the building of a new monastery in Gothic-Renaissance style to the south of the ruins of the Benedictine establishment.
During their occupation of the island in the early 19th century the French began work on the construction of the Fort Royal Fortress, which was completed by the Austrians in the 1830s. In 1859 Archduke Maximilian of Austria (later Emperor of Mexico) bought the island with the intention of building a villa in classical style on the ruins of the Benedictine abbey, but only a small part of this work was completed.Source: Advisory Body Evaluation