Dubrovnik is a beautiful coastal town in Croatia, and one of the most beautiful places in the Balkans. Dubrovnik recently gaining additional fame for its appearance as a film set as King’s Landing in Game of Thrones. It is known for its delightful townscape, comprising medieval architecture and marble pavings. Dubrovnik also has a rich and very real history of its own, perhaps even more fascinating than that of the fantasy realm in Game of Thrones. 

This Croatian gem has been ranked one of the most beautiful places in Europe. And it is certainly a must-see for visitors to the Balkans. This article will explore what is Dubrovnik famous for, as well as some facts about Dubrovnik.

facts about Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik fascinating facts

Dubrovnik its name and nickname

The city’s full name is Dubrovnik. It is also sometimes referred to as Ragusa, after the historical Republic of Ragusa ( a maritime republic), which encompassed the city. Dubrovnik has also been called the “Pearl of the Adriatic”,

Location of Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik is an Adriatic coastal town lying on the west coast of the Balkans facing southwest towards Italy. It is in the south of Dalmatia – that narrow tapering strip that runs along the coast away from the main northern bulk of Croatia. As it is in the narrowest point of a coastal strip, this means Dubrovnik is close to the neighbouring inland nation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro.

A short history of Dubrovnik

The city covers about 21 sq km. This small space is home to some of the oldest European museums and buildings, reflecting its long and rich history.

The area has been inhabited since the 7th century BC when the Illyrians first established a settlement here. It was originally called Ragusa and was developed as a refuge from advancing barbarians. 

The city’s location on the border of different cultures helped it thrive through trade with other maritime ports. Starting as an independent trade republic for 700 years, Dubrovnik has interacted with several large trading partners, including Turkey, India and Africa.

Dubrovnik was part of the Byzantine Empire from the 9th century to the 12th century, when Venice took over the city. The city was under the rule of Venice from 1205 to 1358, during which time the townscape we know today was created.

However, in 1667, a catastrophic earthquake destroyed much of the Renaissance art and architecture in Dubrovnik. Much of that destroyed was rebuilt in the baroque style.

During World War II, Axis forces bombed the city because it served as an important naval base to the Allies. Many historical buildings in the city were destroyed in these bombings.

In 1979, UNESCO declared the Old Town a World Heritage Site.

Dubrovnik was also severely hit by the Croatian War of Independence, i.e. the civil war, in 1991 and 1992. Eighty-eight civilians and 194 military personnel were killed, severely damaging many buildings. Today, most of the damage from this recent war has been repaired.

The First European Cruise Destination

Dubrovnik is one of the oldest seaports in Europe, and it served as a major trading route during the Middle Ages. It is also considered one of the first European tourist destinations for cruise ships!

Dubrovnik Old City walls

The ramparts surrounding Dubrovnik’s Old Town are up to 6 meters thick and 25 meters high, with some parts reaching up to 35 meters. The ancient walls have a total length of 1,940 meters. Since the thirteenth century, that vast masonry has stood between the city and its would-be invaders! The walls were constantly fortified and expanded until the 17th century.

There was a moat around the city, and the walls were armed with 120 cannons. So perhaps it is not so surprising that a hostile army has never breached them.

Dubrovnik’s climate

The city receives an average of 7.2 hours of sun a day. It is approximately 2,630 hours of sunshine a year.

The Game of Thrones Connection

Perhaps Dubrovnik’s most famous recent connection has earned it a spot among the must-see places when you visit the Balkans. Dubrovnik serves as the setting for King’s Landing in the popular TV series, Game of Thrones. It is located in a position roughly equivalent to London on the map of the seven kingdoms! What this means is that if you are a big fan of GoT, a Dubrovnik visit is a must!

The city has also been used as a set for many other Hollywood blockbusters such as Star Wars and Robin Hood.

Beaches in Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik has many beautiful pristine beaches around it, some of which are rocky, whereas others are made up of fine sand. Perhaps the best known is Banje, a rocky beach.

Dubrovnik Cuisine

If you are visiting, do not miss out on this opportunity to try its cuisine. Dubrovnik is famous for its seafood dishes such as octopus salad, shrimp risotto and fish soup.

Slavery Ban

Back in 1416 (exactly on 27th January), in Dubrovnik, 75 votes were voted in favour and only three votes against abolishing slavery. All Dubrovnik citizens can be proud of the description that characterized slavery at that time. It has been called shameful and disgusting and contrary to human dignity. There were people who were still trying to enforce the slaveholding system, but when that was discovered, they would be sent to prison. The abolition of slavery in this city in the 15th century was an extremely advanced act as the fundamental rights of all people in most other countries were recognized only in the middle of the 19th century.

Dalmatian Dogs

Dalmatian dogs are closely associated with Dubrovnik. They are named after the region of Dalmatia in Croatia, where the breed originated. These dogs are famous for their white coats with black spots.

Dubrovnik in literature

In the works of William Shakespeare, “The Merchant of Venice” and “The Taming of the Shrew”, the term “argosy” appears, which literally means “a ship from Ragusa”, aka Dubrovnik.

Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw stated: “Those who seek paradise on earth should come and see Dubrovnik.”

Dubrovnik Fascinating Facts

The pharmacy in Dubrovnik’s Franciscan monastery, which has been operating continuously from 1317 until today, is the third oldest in Europe.

The monks tried in every way to meet the needs of the population of Dubrovnik, so they tried to help sick people with various medicinal preparations. All medicines were herbal, and it is interesting that this pharmacy still works today. Of course, the drugs in it now include modern pharmaceuticals.

The first quarantine in the world took place in Dubrovnik in 1377. Quarantine is a place where people separate, arriving from areas where there are infectious diseases until they are shown to be healthy.

The Dubrovnik river Ombla with its 30 m long watercourse, is one of the shortest rivers in the world.

In 1296, the Republic of Dubrovnik built one of the first medieval sewer systems, which is still in use today.

Dubrovnik was reportedly the first country in the world to recognize the United States of America in 1783.

The orphanage that was founded within the monastery of St. Clare in 1432 was one of the first such institutions in the world.

The Dubrovnik Maritime Insurance Act (Ordo super assecuratoribus, 1568) is the oldest such law in the world.

The naval fleet of the Republic of Dubrovnik in the 16th century had about 40,000 sailors and more than 180 large ships, and it was among the strongest in the Mediterranean.

The most famous place of worship in the city is the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary in Dubrovnik, which was built thanks to a large donation from English king Richard the Lionheart returning from the Third Crusade in 1192. A storm caught Richard off the coast of Croatia, and legend has it that he promised God that if he survived, he would build a cathedral wherever he came to earth again. The Cathedral was badly damaged during the earthquake in 1667 and rebuilt in 1713.

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