A journey back to Middle Earth…

The Republic of Ragusa and the ‘Restaurantisation’ of Dubrovnik.

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Yesterday morning we ventured within the famous walls and under the expert guidance of Marko, local resident and walking tour guide, we learnt about some of the history and architecture of the Old Town.
Dubrovnik was formerly part of its own free state, the Rebublic of Ragusa, between its independence from the Venetians in the 14th century and being conquered by Napoleon’s Empire in 1808. Under the protection of the Ottoman Empire during this period, the city flourished as a major maritime trading hub in the Mediterranean and became noted for its wealth and skilled diplomacy. It’s population hit it’s peak in the 16th century at about 60,000 and most of its current architecture is reflected by various Italian influences.
The Old Town origin dates back to the 7th Century, as does its defensive walls however the current fortification around the town was mainly constructed between the 14th & 17th century and represents one of the best fortifications of the Middle Ages. Being on a major fault line it however suffered from a major earthquake in 1667 which did not affect the wall significantly but destroyed many of the buildings within.
In current times it has been a major tourist destination and became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979. Despite this it suffered heavy shelling by the Serbian&Montenegrin Forces in 1991 during the Yugoslavian Civil war. This has been one of the reasons for the reduction in population of the Old Town, which has gone from about 5,000 to ~900. Whilst the city has been completely restored it has also, due to its tourism attraction, undergone significant “restaurantisation” with all kinds of culinary delights, bars & cafes along the narrow streets and plazas.
In the afternoon we took a ride in the cable car up Mt Srd for some spectacular views and a visit to the museum of civil war housed in the Srdj Imperial Fort built during the Napolean age and an strategically important location for the defence of Dubrovnik during the war in 1991.
A great taster into the multifaceted history of the city and some of its ironical past!


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