The 'Pearl of the Adriatic', on the Dalmatian coast, was 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.
Dubrovnik was founded in the first half of the 7th century by a group of refugees from Epidaurum, who established their settlement at the island and named it Laus. The Latin name Ragusa (Rausa), in use until the 15th century, originated from the rock (Lat. lausa = rock). Opposite that location, at the foot of Srđ Mountain, the Slavs developed their own settlement under the name of Dubrovnik, derived from the Croatian word dubrava, which means oak woods.
Dubrovnik is a remarkably well-preserved example of a late-medieval walled city, with a regular street layout. Among the outstanding medieval, Renaissance and Baroque monuments within the magnificent fortifications and the monumental gates to the city are:
• the walls that run almost 2 km around the city
• the Town Hall (now the Rector's Palace), dating from the 11th century
• the Franciscan Monastery (completed in the 14th century)
• number of other Baroque churches, such as that of St Blaise - sveti Vlaho - (patron saint of the city).
The original World Heritage site consisted solely of the defences and the intra-mural city. It was later extended to include the Pile medieval industrial suburb, a planned development of the 15th century, and tthe Lovrijenac Fortress, located on a cliff, which was probably begun as early as the 11th century, but owes its present appearance to the 15th and 16th centuries.