Historical Description of Dubrovnik as UNESCO site

The proposed extension to the west of the old city includes part of the Pile suburb, with the Brsalje plateau. It marks the point where a major road entered the Roman town that preceded medieval Dubrovnik, and archaeological excavations have revealed the presence there of a Palaeochristian basilica, as well as medieval cemeteries. The Lovrijenac Fortress, located on a cliff, is first mentioned in a document of 1301, but its defensive importance is such that it must have been built much earlier (as early as the 11th century according to some scholars). The fortress owes its present appearance to the 15th and 16th centuries.

The Pile suburb was a planned development of the 15th century, around a clearly defined industrial zone dating back to the 13th century. It was devoted to tanning and leather-working, the casting of cannon, soap manufacture,etc - activities which, for reasons of hygiene and security, were placed outside the walls but within the protection of the fortress. In the early 15th century an important dyeing industry developed in the area, and this was followed by other industries, such as glass-making, bell-casting, and weaving.

These industrial operations led to the construction of workers' houses, and the settlement had its own Church of St George, dating back to the 14th century but rebuilt in its present form in 1590. The Pile suburb has retained its original character, although some changes resulted from the building in the late 19th century of a new road linking Pile with Gruz and passing outside the ramparts of the medieval town. The area known as Iza Grada (Behind the city) lies outside the northern part of the ramparts, and has remained an open space, for defensive reasons, throughout the town I s history. The road joining Pile and Gruz marks its northern boundary.

On the eastern side of the old city lies Ploce, which has served as the centre for trade with the hinterland for centuries. The area proposed for the extension of the World Heritage Site lies to the south of the main road and includes the Lazarets and the Revelin Fortress.

The Kase moles were built around 1485 on the plans of paskoje Milicevic, the most famous Ragusan engineer of the Renaissance period, to protect the port against south-easterly gales while at the same time improving the facilities for controlling vessels approaching the town.

The building of the Lazarets began in 1627 and they were completed in 1648. Their siting at the eastern entrance to the city was practical: this is where traders and travellers would approach Dubrovnik from potentially plague-ridden parts of central Europe or the Orient. They have preserved their original appearance to a remarkable degree.

The Revelin Fortress, built to command the town moat on its northern side, dates from 1449, though its present appearance is that of the 16th century, when it was remodelled by the architect Antonio Ferramolino di Bergamo.

The island of Lokrum lies to the south-east of Dubrovnik, some 500 m from the coast. In 1023 it became a Benedictine abbey, the first of several in the Republic of Dubrovnik. The monastic complex (and especially the Church of the Virgin Mary, destroyed by the earthquake of 1667 and not rebuilt) was continually enlarged in succeeding centuries. Following the reform of the Benedictine Order in the later 15th century, the monastery passed to the Congregation of St Justina of Padua, which was responsible for the building of a new monastery in Gothic-Renaissance style to the south of the ruins of the Benedictine establishment.

During their occupation of the island in the early 19th century the French began work on the construction of the Fort Royal Fortress, which was completed by the Austrians in the 1830s. In 1859 Archduke Maximilian of Austria (later Emperor of Mexico) bought the island with the intention of building a villa in classical style on the ruins of the Benedictine abbey, but only a small part of this work was completed.

Source: UNESCO

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