The Achievements of The Medieval Dubrovnik
The Republic of Ragusa's Golden Age
The furerunner of today's Dubrovnik, the Republic of Ragusa was an independent, thriving city-state between the 14th and 18th centuries. Wedged between two superpowers of the age, the expanding Turkish Empire and the Venetian Republic, with amazing balancing diplomacy the tiny Ragusa managed to preserve its independence for long centuries.
This independence and its diverse maritime trade enabled Ragusa to introduce such achievements that surpassed its age.
Dubrovnik's Old Town
1. Democracy and Rectors
"NON BENE PRO TOTO LIBERTAS VENDITUR AURO"
Freedom is not sold for all gold in the world!
This was the motto which Ragusa always remained faithful to. Following the Zadar Treaty in 1358, Dubrovnik managed to avoid falling under Venetian rule unlike other Dalmatian towns. By the 15th century the legal status of Ragusa was completely achieved. One of the legislatures was called the Great Council which was made up of aristocratic families. They appointed the members of the Senate and the Small Council, which was the executive body of the Great Council. The head of the republic was the Rector who was elected for a one-month term by the Senate.
The old town of Dubrovnik and the Rector's Palace on the 50 Kn banknote
The Rector kept a firm hand on Ragusa's state affairs
2. Water Supply System
The 11,7 km long water supply system was completed in the 15th century. Its constructor was an architect from Naples, Onofrio della Cava.
Dubrovnik's two beautiful fountains are also linked to his name: the Large Onofrio Fountain stands at the eastern end of the main street, Stradun while the "small" Onofrio Fountain is situated close to the city bell-tower.
The Large Onofrio Fountain Today
3. Public Health Service
Ragusa's old pharmacy and the lazarettos
The medieval Dubrovnik also had an old people's home and a pharmacy. The old Mala Braca pharmacy was founded as early as 1317 by the Franciscan friars. It is located in the cloister of the Franciscan monastery and is the part of the Franciscan Monastery Museum today.
In order to prevent the plague entering the town, the citizens of Ragusa built lazarettos which served as isolation hospitals. A regulation called Liber Viridis from 1377 forbade visitors from plague-ridden areas to enter Dubrovnik. The lazaretto next to Ploce gate has been preserved in good condition and serves as the venue of cultural performances.
Cloister of the Franciscan Monastery
Dubrovnik stone by stone
4. Symbols of Independence - State Mint, Treasury and Costums Office
The beautiful Sponza Palace housed the state mint, the treasury and the costums office at the time of the Republic of Ragusa. The Gothic-Renaissance building now houses the Dubrovnik State Archives and the Memorial Room of Dubrovnik Defenders.
Ragusa's protection against famine
The city was prepared for bad times, as well. Ragusa kept a strategic grain reserve in underground silos called Rupe. The granary was built in the 16th century and made up of 15 stores. The building hosts the Ethnographic Museum today.
What do you think the greatest achievement was in the Republic of Ragusa?
Symbol of Statehood: the Orlando Column
The main character of the most important literary work dating back to the Middle Ages, the Chanson de Roland stands in front the Church of St Blaise.
As the legendary knight was tied to a battle between Dubrovnik and Saracen pirates in which Roland (Orlando) won, the Orlando Column is the symbol of independence and freedom. The column was adorned with the flag of St Blaise, the patron saint of Dubrovnik.