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Pile gate is the northern entrance to this fortified city. After passing a bridge that was once raised every night to protect the city from intruders, one reaches Stradun, the central and most prominent street in Dubrovnik. Above the inner side of the gate there is a statue of Sv. Vlaho (St. Blaise), the saint protector of the city. At the beginning of Stradun there is a circular Onofrio fountain. The fountain was connected by aqueduct with a spring 12 km away from the town, bringing water to the city. Opposite the fountain there is the Franciscan Monastery with the restored sculpture of the Pieta above the entrance door. The Pharmacy dating from the 14th century is located inside the monastery. Next to the monastery there is the 16th century St. Saviour Church, one of the few monuments that survived the big earthquake in 1667. At the opposite end of Stradun there are the Orlando Column, favorite meeting place of the locals, the Sponza palace and the Rector's palace. It is possible to take a walk on the fortification walls all around the old city and visit the fort Minčeta.
The closest beach to the city is Banje beach, just south of the old city. It is possible to take a boat to Lokrum, the very green nearby island. North of the city there are nice beaches in the region of Babin Kuk, and for those that prefer long sandy beaches there is island Lopud with its beautiful beach Šunj.
Dubrovnik has an international airport at Ćilipi, 24 km southeast of Dubrovnik. Croatia Airlines connects Dubrovnik with Zagreb with several flights daily and other companies connect Dubrovnik with many European capitals. The airport has regular bus connections to the center of Dubrovnik. Jadrolinija and some Italian companies have ferries connecting Dubrovnik to Bari in Italy. Jadrolinija ferries also connect Dubrovnik with Split and Rijeka. Bus companies have everyday connections from Dubrovnik to all major Croatian cities. Some bigger cities in Europe, as well as Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro also have regular bus connections to Dubrovnik. Transport in the region of Dubrovnik is organized with a public buy system. There are also numerous taxis to take you wherever you wish to go. If you prefer to drive yourself, you can also rent a car.
Foundation of Dubrovnik
In the first half of the 7th century Slavs established a settlement below the hill Srđ. As the hill was covered with oak tree (in Croatian "dub"), the settlement was named Dubrava. At the same time Italic refugees from the nearby city of Epidaurum (today's Cavtat) founded their own settlement on a small nearby island and named it Laus (Italian name for Dubrovnik, Ragusa, stems from Laus). The two settlements were separated by a channel which was reclaimed from the sea and filled in 12th century, when the two settlements united in the city of Dubrovnik. On the place where the channel once existed a street was built (and later paved in 1468) and was named Stradun. Since many potential enemies (like Venetians and Arabs) presented a threat to Dubrovnik, fortification walls were built to protect the city.
The History of the Republic of Dubrovnik
From its establishment the town was under the protection of the Byzantine Empire. After the Crusades Dubrovnik came under the sovereignty of Venice (1205–1358), then by the Peace Treaty of Zadar in 1358 it became part of the Hungarian–Croatian Kingdom. In Hungarian–Croatian Kingdom the Republic of Dubrovnik (or Republic of Ragusa) was granted self-government, bound to pay a tribute to the king and provide assistance with its fleet. The Republic of Dubrovnik reached its peak in the 15th and 16th centuries when it rivaled the Republic of Venice and other Italian maritime republics. For centuries the city successfully balanced its sovereignty between the interests of Venice and the Ottoman Empire. In 1526 Dubrovnik acknowledged the supremacy of the Turkish Sultan. A crisis of Mediterranean shipping and especially a catastrophic earthquake on the 6th of April 1667 that killed over 5000 citizens, including the Rector, and destroyed most of the public buildings signed an end to the glory of Republic of Dubrovnik. With great effort the Republic recovered a bit, but still remained a shadow of what it once was. In 1806 Dubrovnik surrendered to Napoleon (which had already conquered the Venetian territories) and in 1808 the Republic of Dubrovnik was abolished.
The Government of the Republic of Dubrovnik
The population of the Republic was divided into three social classes: nobility, citizens and artisans (or plebeians). All effective power was concentrated in the hands of the nobility. The citizens could hold only minor offices while plebeians had no power at all. Marriage between members of different classes was forbidden. The administrative bodies were the Grand Council (supreme governing body), the Small Council (executive power) and the Senate. The head of the state was the Duke. The Grand Council consisted only of aristocrats - every noble took his seat at the age of 18. The Small Council consisted of 11 members and its members were appointed by the Duke (the Rector). The Senate was founded in 1235 acting as a consultative body. It consisted of 45 invited members having at least 40 years of age. Rector served only a one month term and was eligible for reelection after two years. The rector lived and worked in Rector's Palace but his family remained living in their own house. The government of the Republic was liberal in character and early showed its concern for justice and humanitarian principles (slave trading was abolished in 1418).
Modern history of Dubrovnik
In 1815, by the resolution of Vienna Congress, Dubrovnik was annexed to the Austrian Empire. In 1848 the Croatian Assembly (Sabor) published the People's Requests in which they requested the unification of Dalmatia and Croatia. In 1918 Dubrovnik became part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (later the Kingdom of Yugoslavia). From April 1941 until September 1943 Dubrovnik was occupied by the Italian army and afterwards by Germans. In October 1944 Partisans liberated Dubrovnik and in 1945 Dubrovnik became part of Croatia (which itself was a part of Yugoslavia). After Croatia declared its independence Dubrovnik was attacked by Serbian military. The siege of Dubrovnik lasted for seven months until in 1992 the Croatian Army liberated Dubrovnik and its surroundings. Following the end of the war, a major rebuilding project led by the Croatian authorities and UNESCO began. The city was rebuilt in the ancient style to keep its sense of beauty and history.
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