The town of Dubrovnik in Croatia
|Perched on a rock, girdled high ramparts bathed by the Adriatic, Dubrovnik, old Raguse, is regarded as one of the jewels of the world architectural heritage. Didn’t Lord Byron qualify it “pearl of the Adriatic”? Narrow lanes in the beneficial shade where the sons with linen dance, kaleidoscope of the parasols of the coffees, small places flowered with the gently glossed paving stones confer a very Mediterranean atmosphere to him.
|The name of the town of Dubrovnik comes from the Croatian word dubrava which indicates the “holm oaks”.
|In the extreme south of Dalmatia, and thus of Croatia, the small wearing of Dubrovnik, located in a split superb and bathing in the middle of the rocks ocher and of the Mediterranean vegetation, occupies a narrow littoral band, at the bottom of first buttresses of the dinaric Alps, with less than 5 km as the crow flies of Bosnia-Herzegovina, with a few kilometers only of the borders of Montenegro.
|The legal statute of the republic of Dubrovnik was entirely established at the 16th century, which implied an autonomous election of the vice-chancellor and advisers, a currency, and the flag where the owner of the city appeared, holy Blaise, an independent legislature, as well as the right to install consulates abroad. Being based on the aristocratic social order, the supreme power was invested by the “large council”, composed members of the large families.
|To preserve its power, Dubrovnik looks after its relationship with the Turks who, after the battle of Mohács (1526), become more and more threatening. Under the pressure of the particularly violent expansionist policy of the Turks, the republic of Dubrovnik agreed in 1525 to pay an annual tribute with the Turkish authority, but on the other hand obtained the right to trade freely with the whole of the Turkish Empire. It is thus, without army but with a particularly effective diplomacy, that the small republic manages to sit its sovereignty, without taking part in the least conflict and by avoiding the supervision of Spain and the Vatican. The only true rival remained the republic of Venice.
|The maritime economy is at the base of this prosperity, the vessels increasingly more crossing the Mediterranean, the Black Sea and the oceans to trade with the ports English, German, Indian or American. From 1580 to 1600, Dubrovnik, maritime city, were in charge of a powerful fleet made up of two hundred sailing ships flying flag on all the seas of the world. This merchant fleet furrows the seas, with the service of the ore trade of lead, money, salt and goldsmithery, produced in the surroundings.
|This material success, allied with a freedom and sense of security, is at the origin of the humanistic lifestyle which develops in Dubrovnik at that time, stimulating the creative spirits. The city then reaches its more high level of urban and architectural development, which was maintained until today.
15th and 16th centuries were thus the highest times of the cultural history of Dubrovnik, marked by the celebrity of very great writers. Like the comic great author Marine Držić, a line which continues to the most famous poet of the 17th century: Ivan Gundulić. This time also knew eminent painters and scientists like Lovro Dobriečević, Nikola Božidarević and Vlaho Bukovac, the mathematician and astronomer Marin Getaldić, the doctors Didak Pir and Đuro Baljivi, the economist Beno Kotruljević, the musician who composed the first symphonies in Croatia, Luka Šorkočević, or the universally recognized Croatian scientist, Ruđer Bošković.
|The Great Earthquake, then Napoleon
|The 16th century is that of the great discoveries, the opening of new sea routes and the competition of the rival powers. The dynamism of the browsers ragusains would have perhaps made it possible the town of resist if an earthquake of a rare violence had not precipitated its decline, on August 6th, 1667. More than 5000 inhabitants perish under the debris of the destroyed city. Even the ships with the anchor in the port are destroyed. Romance, Gothic buildings or Rebirth, there remain almost nothing. Only the ramparts, the Sponza palace and some fragments make it possible to imagine the disappeared treasures. All will be rebuilt, in the style baroque. The city will be reconsidered, but it will never find completely its last power.
Dubrovnik must then fight for its rebuilding and the maintenance of its sovereignty. The vessels surf finally under neutral flag until the arrival of the Napoleonean troops and the fall of the Republic of Dubrovnik in 1808. It is the annexation of Dalmatia by Napoleon, in 1806, who ends official at the Republic.
It is in 1815, with the congress of Vienna, that the city is attached to Dalmatia and Croatia, from which it shares the political destiny since then. The empire Austro-Hungarian extends his domination, of 1815 to 1918. Dubrovnik is nothing any more but one small town of province.
|The War of Independence
|Following the declaration of independence of the Republic of Croatia and with the Serb attack which answered it, Dubrovnik was attacked in October 1991 by the communist armies Serb and Montenegrin which sought to destroy the totality of the territory and to acquire a privileged access on the Adriatic Sea. The area of Dubrovnik was occupied and devastated. The city itself was entirely encircled for eight month, was bombarded and on several occasions destroyed partially at the time of attacks, at the beginning of December 1991. The international community and of many intellectuals were then indignant at the reserved treatment to such an inheritance, with impunity.
Very damaged by the armed conflict, the city quickly was the object of a great program of restoration coordinated by UNESCO. It fortunately could be rebuilt, and, today, it is difficult to find traces visible of its painful last. The cultural and historical heritage overall is protected and preserved, with the great joy of the tourists who start to rediscover an area and a site, particularly rich and surprising.