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  • Painting of Dubrovnik before the great earthquake

    Dubrovnik Trade

  • Minceta tower - A part of Dubrovnik City walls

    City Walls of Dubrovnik

  • Church of St Saviour in Dubrovnik

    Churches and Temples

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    Maps of Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik Hills - Did you know ?

Dubrovnik - Rise from the ashes of Epidaurum

The beginnings of Dubrovnik fall in the relatively distant past and like many Mediterranean cities are veiled in legend.

Among several legends about its origin, historically the most credible is the one linking the foundation of Dubrovnik with the destruction and fall of the Roman city of Epidaurum (at the site of present day Cavtat) in the 7th century.


Epidaurum was a very old settlement which was very probably founded as a Greek colony, although there are no certain finds.

In Roman times it was a developed town and an important sea trade emporium.

It is presumed that Epidaurum suffered heavily from an earthquake in the 4th century, when parts of the city fell into the sea, but it continued its existence as an important centre. It was also mentioned as the seat of a bishop.

In 614 Epidaurum was captured and destroyed by the Avars and Slavs, and the survivors fled to small rocky islet named Laus.


Laus or Lave is rock in Greek, labes is sheer slope, which describes a locality which obviously had a steep coast, a cliff. The islet was separated from dry land by a narrow channel so that the settlement on it was protected from both sea and land.


The rock was inhabited even before the arrival of refugees as per theory of Dr Antun Nicetic who calculated distances from the nearest ports and realised that a port should have existed just on the spot of todays Dubrovnik.


Latest archaeological excavations confirmed the theory as sand was found in the Old Port of Dubrovnik which was neccessarry for landing of the ships. It is known that fresh water was also readily available and most interestingly excavations discovered a cathedral dating to the 7th century which could only mean that in the time of fall of Epidaurum the small rock of Laus had a successful dwelling society.


The city which rose on the rock Laus took the name from it: Rausa, Ragusa and Ragusium. The woody slopes across the channel were settled by Slavs. Since Dubrava is the Slav word for woods we understand the root of the name Dubrovnik.


From the 7th to the 12th century the city and the Slav settlements grew under the domination of Byzantinum.


Already In the 9th century it is obvious that Dubrovnik was a highly organized municipal unit with a system of protective ramparts because it successfully resisted a 15 month siege of the Saracens. The city siege ended with the aid of the Byzantine fleet.


The channel between the islet and the mainland was silted in the course of the 10th and 11th centuries, and was filled with carted material at the close of the 11th century.


The widest and most famous street in Dubrovnik, Placa (stradun)-runs today in the place where the islet was joined to firm land. Both parts of Dubrovnik were integrated in the 12th century when they were encompassed by a system of defence walls. Finally in the 13th century, the last northern suburb was included in the walls, the streets were regulated, and Dubrovnik acquired its present shape.



Dubrovnik - Maritime Trading and roots of success

Historical Dubrovnik

The very favourable geographical position of Dubrovnik made its development based on maritime and merchant activities very successful through its History. From the entrance to the Adriatic Sea, Dubrovnik is the first port protected by islands on the maritime route to the West, and by way of the Neretva Valley, it has the fastest connection with its hinterland.