Theory indicates that Ragusa (the old name of Dubrovnik) was founded in the 7th century by refugees from nearby Epidaurus (todays Cavtat), destroyed by Avars and Slavs.
After the centuries under different rulers (Ostrogothic, Byzantine and Venetian), Ragusa gained a certain autonomy as a vassal state of the Hungarian Kingdom in 1358.
From that time until 1808, Ragusa was considered a free city-state, although it had to pay annual amends to Ottoman Empire to preserve that independence during several centuries.
The Republic of Ragusa reached its economic and cultural peak in the 15th and 16th century. The alliance with Ancona, another maritime Republic on the Adriatic, prevented Venetian domination of this part of the sea and enabled two allies to develop their own trade route.
The Republic was legally regulated by its own Statutes.
Ragusa had its own water supply system in 1436.
The Republic abolished slave trading in 1416, that was the first decree of that kind in Europe.
Ragusa had a huge fleet of merchant ships that were known all over the world. Skilled diplomacy enabled free seafaring trade that significantly contributed the economic wealth of the Republic. In the 15th century, beside the mining, agricultural and livestock trading, Dubrovnik had been exporting its own manufactured goods, such as soap, glass and cloths.
Dubrovnik even had its own colony in India, where you can still find the evidence of its great political power - Church of St. Blaise, the patron saint of Dubrovnik, is still standing there as a reminder of a glory days of the Republic.
The power of the Republic slowly declined after the discovery of America, as trading routes were moved mostly to the Atlantic. 1667 disastrous earthquake with following tsunami and conflagration destroyed the city and killed a half of its inhabitants.
After tragic event, the city was raised again, but never regained its old glory and power.
In 1806 the Republic was conquered by Napoleon's army. Marshal Marmont abolished the Republic of Ragusa in 1808, thereby closing the chapter of its sovereignty for good.
The City Walls - An impressive chain of stone walls, built to defend the Republic of Ragusa against various invaders throughout centuries. The Walls had been constructed from 12th to 17th century. Almost 2 km long and 25 metres high, the Walls represent one of the largest and most completed fortification complexes in Europe.
Minceta Fort -
on the northern side of the Walls is the most significant fort of the complex.
It was built in 1464.
Bokar Fort - is the western fort built in 1463, also called Zvjezdan.
Fort of St. John - was built in the 16th century on the southeastern side of the City walls to protect the entrance to the old city's harbour.
Lovrijenac Fort - sometimes called the Gibraltar of Dubrovnik, was famous for its important rule in defense against Venetians. Today, the fort is a popular venue of romantic weddings and various artistic performances as well, traditional stage for Shakespeare's Hamlet.
Pile Gate - the western entrance to the city, built in the 16th century. The gate once had a drawbridge, usually closed during the night.
Dubrovnik Cathedral - The Baroque Cathedral was built in the 17th century after the earthquake. Cathedral treasures gold and silver reliquaries, ecclestiastical utensils and paintings made by famous Croatian, Italian and Flemish masters, like Tizian, Raffael and other.
Church of St. Blaise - This charming Baroque church was built in the 18th century in honour of the patron saint of Dubrovnik. The significant point of the church is the statue of St. Blaise from the 15th century. The patron saint holds the breadboard of the city before the earthquake.
Franciscan Monastery - The Monastery with church was built in the 14th century. The building houses the old pharmacy that has been working since 1317 (the third oldest in Europe), the library with invaluable incunabulum and museum with works of important city's artists.
Prince's Palace - Prince's Palace was the official seat of government and Prince of the Republic of Ragusa. Today, the Palace hosts the Cultural and Historical Museum.
Sponza Palace -
Remarkable Gothic and Renaissance Palace was built in the 16th century. During the glorious centuries of Ragusa Republic, the palace was used as a customs office, where the goods from all over the world were taxed.
Nowadays, Sponza houses the State Archives, that treasures valuable historical material.
Stradun - The main and the most recognizable city street, sometimes called Placa. Stradun is paved with glossy polished stone blocks and therefore is sometimes called the salon - street. There are two fountains, one at each end of the street, Big and Small Onofrio's Fountains.
Orlando's Column - The stone statue of Orlando, a Medieval knight, the oldest preserved public statue in the city.
City's Bell Tower - Originally built in the 15th century but destroyed in the earthquake in 1667. The new bell tower with clock was built according to the old plans in 1929.