HISTORYRagusa (Raugia) was founded in the 7th century on a rocky island named Laus, which provided shelter for Latin refugees from the nearby city of Epidaurus, today's Cavtat also Ragusavecchia. Some time later a settlement of Slavic people grew at the foot of the forested Srđ hill. This settlement gives to the city its Slavic name "Dubrovnik".
The strip of wetland between Ragusa and Dubrava was reclaimed in the 12th century, unifying the city around the newly-made plaza (today Placa or Stradun). The plaza was paved in 1468 and reconstructed after the earthquake of 1667. The city was fortified and two harbours were built on each side of the isthmus. From its establishment in the 7th century, the town was under the protection of the Byzantine Empire. After the Crusades, Ragusa/Dubrovnik came under the sovereignty of Venice (1205–1358), and by the Peace Treaty of Zadar in 1358, it became part of the Hungaro-Croatian reign. Between the 14th century and 1808 Ragusa ruled itself as a free state. The Republic had its peak in the 15th and 16th centuries, when its thalassocracy rivaled that of the Republic of Venice and other Italian maritime republics.
The economic wealth of the Republic was partially the result of the land it developed, but especially of the seafaring trade it did. With the help of skilled diplomacy, Ragusa's merchants traveled lands freely, and on the sea the city had a huge fleet of merchant ships (argosy) that traveled all over the world. From these travels they founded some settlements, from India to America, and brought parts of their culture and vegetation home with them. One of the keys to success was not conquering, but trading and sailing under a white flag with the word freedom (Latin: Libertas) prominently featured on it. That flag was adopted when slave trading was abolished in 1418. Many Conversos (Marranos) — Jews from Spain and Portugal — were attracted to the city. In May, 1544, a ship landed there filled exclusively with Portuguese refugees, as Balthasar de Faria reported to King John. During this time there worked in the city one of the most famous cannon and bell founders of his time: Ivan Rabljanin (Magister Johannes Baptista Arbensis de la Tolle).
The Republic gradually declined after a crisis of Mediterranean shipping — and especially a catastrophic earthquake in 1667 that killed over 5000 citizens, including the Rector, leveling most of the public buildings — ruined the well-being of the Republic. In 1699 the Republic sold two patches of its territory to the Ottomans in order to avoid terrestrial borderline, with advancing Venetian forces.
In 1806 the city surrendered to French forces, as that was the only way to cut a month's long siege by the Russian-Montenegrin fleets (during which 3000 cannonballs fell on the city). At first Napoleon demanded only free passage for his troops, promising not to occupy the territory and stressing that the French were friends of the Ragusans. Later, however, French forces blockaded the harbours, forcing the government to give in and let French troops enter the city. On this day, all flags and coats of arms above the city walls were painted black as a sign of grief. In 1808, Marshal Marmont abolished the republic and integrated its territory into the Illyrian provinces.
DUBROVNIK TODAYThe annual Dubrovnik Summer Festival is a cultural event when keys of the city are given to artists who entertain Dubrovnik's population and their guests for entire month with live plays, concerts, and games. With these verses Dubrovnik major invites actors and poems to enter through main gates inside city stone walls. As a young actor Goran Višnjić played Hamlet at the Dubrovnik Summer Festival. He was noticed and approved by the public at the very start of his career. The Dubrovnik Summer Festival has been awarded its first Gold International Trophy for Quality (2007) by the Editorial Office in collaboration with the Trade Leaders Club.
February 3 is the feast of Sveti Vlaho (Saint Blaise), who is the city's patron saint. Every year the city of Dubrovnik celebrates the holiday with Mass, parades, and festivities that last for several days.
Dubrovnik and its surroundings with numerous islands have a lot to offer in touristic activities for younger generations. Also popular are climbing on steep hills, hiking through the Mediterranean nature, and swimming in the clean, transparent sea.
New historical discoveries say that the usual misconception of Dubrovnik coming to be as joining of Laus island and Slav settlement of Dubrovnik is disputed by the fact that there was no island of Laus, only a peninsula, and it seems that there was a port on its location dating back to ancient history (thought to be the lost port of Heraclea).