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Dubrovnik History

Historically a key Mediterranean trading port, Dubrovnik has transformed into a tourist hotspot.

Dubrovnik’s first settlers were refugees from the colony of Epidaurus, who arrived in the seventh century. For centuries the city, known until 1808 as the Republic of Ragusa, was a free city-state that stood as one of the Adriatic’s most important cities.

From the ninth century, Dubrovnik began to take shape as a well prepared and fortified municipality, resisting a 15-month long siege from the Saracen. It was dominated by the influence of the Byzantine Empire from the seventh century until the 12th, when more autonomous aspirations started to grow within its people. At the beginning of the 13th century though, Dubrovnik fell under the control of its primary rival, the Most Serene Republic of Venice, until breaking free of its control in 1358. Prosperity followed, as Dubrovnik became the chief rival of the Venetian Empire, before suffering a double blow. An earthquake in 1667 devastated the city. Then the opening of new trade routes to the east sent the city into decline, a period which ended with Napoleon’s conquest in 1806. His reign here was short lived though, with Dubrovnik becoming part of the Habsburg Empire from 1815 until 1918. Dubrovnik began to lure tourists, with literary giants such as George Bernard Shaw and Agatha Christie among those singing its praises.

The city’s sturdy walls have never been breached, but they did endure a battering between 1991-92 when Serb and Montenegrin paramilitaries laid siege to the city in the Croatian War of Independence. A legacy of the repair work was a swathe of bright orange roof tiles (the lighter tiles came from the original quarry which closed before 1991) which distinguishes the Old Town. Today, the development of upmarket hotels and restaurants has ensured cruise and low-cost airline passengers are arriving in droves.

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Featured Hotels


Hotel Excelsior

This 198-room hotel in São Paulo, with its mammoth convention centre, flatters beyond its 4-star billing. The rooms behind Excelsior's art-deco frontage are plain and businesslike, yet excellent value. Wi-Fi is free, rooms come with LCD TVs and there is a bar and fitness centre onsite. The location is also close by downtown Praça da República with nearby cultural icons such as Teatro Municipal and Edificio Copan. Staff speak English and can help book tickets and tours. Breakfast included.

Hotel Neptun

It would be a shame to stay in Dubrovnik without waking up with a sea view. Hotel Neptun has recently been renovated to ensure an unforgettable stay in the Babin Kuk peninsula overlooking Elaphiti Islands. Choose one of the 91 rooms or suites and make the most of Croatian summer.


ZigZag Apartments Dubrovnik

These stylish apartments scattered around the Old Town and priced very reasonably, won’t break your budget. Light, airy, with a plenty of sunshine, you will be close to all the hot sports, restaurants and bars.


Valamar Club Dubrovnik

Set in luxuriant gardens, this family-friendly all-inclusive resort on the Babin Kuk peninsula is only a few minutes’ walk from the pebbly beach. Many of the modern light-filled rooms come with sea views and balconies, and there’s a separate children’s pool as well as a large outdoor pool.

Hotel Stari Grad

With only eight rooms, this smartly decorated boutique hotel in the Old Town offers a more intimate experience than the huge Lapad resorts. The tastefully furnished rooms don’t have views to speak of, but the fifth-floor terrace has a superb rooftop restaurant and is a great place for breakfast.

Old Town Hostel

A wallet-friendly option offering a selection of dorms and private rooms, the Old Town Hostel has a great Old Town location. It offers extras such as free Wi-Fi and free breakfast and its owner Mike is a well-liked character.