Before moving into the details of vacationing in Croatia, I think it’s important to establish the history of Dubrovnik, Croatia and their relationship to the surrounding area, which was once Yugoslavia. I’ll be referring to the recent war and the attitudes of the people throughout this blog. So this primer will help those new to Croatia get a better understanding and appreciation of this country.
Dubrovnik was once known as the Republic of Ragusa, built in the 7th century when residents of the Dalmatian coast sought refuge from an onslaught of invading barbarians. Over the next 4 centuries Ragusa became immensely successful as a Mediterranean trading port. For a time, 1205-1358, Ragusa was under control of Venice. In the 15th century it became the major rival to Venice in control of the Adriatic shipping lanes.
Ragusa was completely devistated by an earthquake in 1667. If fact, only the Sponza Palace and the Rector’s Palace survived. The residents reconstructed the city, forming what we have today. Dubrovnik has long attracted travelers. Lord Byron, Irish playwrite George Bernard Shaw and even Agatha Christie were awed by the walled city, and visited often.
In more recent history, Dubrovnik was absorbed into Yugoslavia after World War I. Previously it was a Monarchy, but when King Alexander was assassinated in France, his son Prince Paul got to close with the German Fascists. In 1939, they immediately ousted him in a bloodless coup and invaded Croatia with help of the Fascist Italians. Ultimately Communist rule took hold under Tito, and the Iron curtain dropped over Croatia, Montenegro, Slovenia, Serbia and Boznia-Herzegovina. Although the residents of Yugoslavia had access to more freedoms than any country in Eastern Europe, they were under the iron fist of Titoism. Things started to fall apart rapidly after Tito’s death in 1980. By the end of the decade Croatia proclaimed its independence and fell into a war with Serbia. Of all of the cities on the Dalmatian coast, Dubrovnik caught the bulk of this conflict, where Serbian shells rained over the city from the southern front of Montenegro. YouTube has incredibly disturbing footage of Dubrovnik being bombed.
By the early 2000’s Serbian leader Milošević was standing trial for war crimes at the Hague, but he died before being convicted. After the war, Croatia was established under a parliamentary constitution, and the new government rebuilt its infrastructure. We saw some evidence of the war, but most of Dubrovnik has been repaired, and the deeper we traveled up the Dalmatian coast, evidence of a war was non-existent, except in many of the people who still illustrated anger at the Bosnians, and Montenegrins (Milošević was born in Montenegro). Recently, Montenegro claimed it’s independence from Serbia and is putting itself on the same path of success as Croatia.