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History of Dubrovnik

From time immemorial there was a small settlement on a rocky island known simply as Laus - the rock. Laus had fresh water springs and a sandy bottom bay, a requisite for a successful port.

Upon destruction of the Roman city of Epidaurum by a tremendous earthquake in the 4th century CE and later by the Avar-Slav force (Epidaurum was at the position of today's town of Cavtat) numerous refugees found shelter on Laus that will later become a city named Ragusium.

With the Slav migration in the 7th century came the Croatians and made a settlement on the shore across the narrow channel to Laus and they called their settlement Dubrovnik (Dubrava - oak woods)
And the two settlements (Ragusium and Dubrovnik) coexisted and traded until they were one.

In 10th and 11th century the narrow channel between the towns is covered and in the 12th century both settlements are connected both phisically and by strong socio-economic ties. The small Roman-Greek group inter-mixed with Croatian-Slav people and in the 12th century Dubrovnik is a Croatian-Slav city. From the 14th century Croatian element is completely dominant.

The building of the City walls started from the early beginnings of the young City and continued until the very end of the Dubrovnik Republic.

From its establishment in the 7th century the town(s) were under the protection of the Byzantine Empire.

After the Crusades, Ragusa/Dubrovnik came under the sovereignty of Venice (1205-1358).

In 1358 Dubrovnik became part of the Hungarian-Croatian Kingdom. Having been granted the entire self-government, bound to pay only a tribute to the king and providing assistance with its fleet, Dubrovnik started its life as a free state.

The Ragusan Republic reached its peak in the 15th and 16th centuries.

In 1526, after the battle of Mohach,  when Turks defeated the Hungary-Croatian army, Dubrovnik stopped paying tribute to the Hungary-Croatian kings, and their authority over Dubrovnik was over. Same year Dubrovnik acknowledged the supremacy of the Turkish Sultan (annual tribute was paid to the Sultan).

A crisis of Mediterranean shipping due to discovery of the Americas and alternate routes to the East, and especially a catastrophic earthquake on the April 6, 1667 that killed over 5000 citizens, including the Rector, leveling most of the public buildings, ruined the well-being of the Republic.

With great effort the Republic recovered and rebuilt Dubrovnik, but still it remained but a shadow of its former glory.

In 1806, Dubrovnik surrendered to the Napoleon's French army, as that was the only way to cut a month's long siege by the Russian-Montenegrin fleets (during which 3000 cannon balls fell on The City). The French lifted the siege and saved Dubrovnik for the time being.

The Napoleon's French army, entered Dubrovnik in 1806. In 1808 Marshal Marmont abolished the Dubrovnik Republic (est. 15th century) and amalgamated its territory into Illyrian provinces.

In 1815, by the resolution of Congress of Vienna, Dubrovnik was annexed to Austria (later Austria-Hungary), and remained annexed until 1918, when it became part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (Yugoslavia from 1929).

At the very beginning of the World War II, Dubrovnik was first part of the Independent State of Croatia.

From April 1941 until September 1943 Dubrovnik was occupied by the Italian army and after that by the Germans.

In October 1944 Partisans liberated Dubrovnik from the Germans and it became part of the second Yugoslavia in 1945.

Following Croatia's independence in 1991, the Montenegro and Yugoslav army forces bombarded the Old Town on December 6, 1991, causing extensive damages. The rest of Dubrovnik was also shelled and bombarded throughout the siege that lasted from October 1991 until May 1992.

As of 2003, most damaged buildings in the City have been repaired.

Today, Dubrovnik is a Croatian touristic jewel and a word architectural wonder that hunderds of thousands of tourists come to see each year.

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