Cultural Corridors of South East Europe

Heritage by Country / Croatia

Dubrovnik, The Old City

Dubrovnik, The Old City

About the site

Corridor: Via Adriatica
Country: Croatia, Dubrovnik
Type: Fortress, Historic Town
Epoch: Modern Times, Middle Ages
Theme: Fortresses
World Heritage: Cultural Heritage
Modern TimesMiddle AgesFortressesFortressHistoric TownCultural Heritage

The 'Pearl of the Adriatic', situated on the Dalmatian coast, became an important Mediterranean sea power from the 13th century onwards. Although severely damaged by an earthquake in 1667, Dubrovnik managed to preserve its beautiful Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque churches, monasteries, palaces and fountains. Damaged again in the 1990s, it is now the focus of a major restoration programme co-ordinated by UNESCO.


The city of Dubrovnik, a late medieval planned town situated on the southern Croatian Adriatic coast at the foot of Mount Srd, has a historic nucleus which occupies an important place in the history of urban development. Dubrovnik has through many centuries preserved its character of a unique urban whole enclosed by fortified walls.
Traces of life in this area go back to the Illyrian period: archaeological excavations have confirmed the existence of settlements since the Hellenistic period.
Dubrovnik (Ragusium) began to develop in the 7th century, when it was a small settlement perched at the top of a steep rocky promontory. In its subsequent development it expanded north and eastwards, forming six sexterias. Ist expansion was completed in the late 13th century, when ist boundaries were delineated by mighty defence walls (1940m). The system consists of the main town walls with towers, donjons and bastions, barbicans, the moat and Kase break-water, which protects the harbour. The axis of the city and the focal point of public life is the main street – the Placa, running east-westwards and ending in Luza, the central city square. Luza and its southern extension are bordered by administrative, business, sacral and municipal buildings. The finest of them include Sponza Palace, St. Blaise’s church, the town clock, the Arsenal, the Town Hall, the Rector’s Palace and the cathedral. Dubrovnik boasted a highly advanced municipal infrastructure and health care system: it had a municipal sewage and water supply system, a granary at Rupe, quarantine protection, medical service, apothecaries, hospital – hospices, and an orphanage.
Dubrovnik’s development and survival was based on trade and navigation: it was a strong maritime and trading hub on the east coast of the Adriatic and an important centre of the Mediterranean.

Expert network

Read more about Dubrovnik, The Old City at the Unesco World Heritage List.