It's always interesting to hear what non-locals feel about living in our cities and what it's like to live abroad. Read the interview with US expat Alexandra Scmitt about living in Dubrovnik, prepared by Sanne Wesselman, the creator of the Spend Life Traveling blog.
It’s easy to understand why the people of Dubrovnik are proud of their city – it just takes one look. It takes a little more effort, however, to understand how deeply this pride runs, and how many, how varied and how rich and justified are the reasons for this pride. And, thank goodness, this pride manifests itself in a way that is very easy to fall in love with: the people of Dubrovnik also take pride in their strong tradition for good manners and hospitality. It’s not an empty or boastful pride.
Why does the city look the way it does? Why all those walls and bastions? It was first of all a refugee colony for the people of Epidaurus (today’s Cavtat), who fled from invading Avar and Slav tribes. At that time the land south of Stradun, as the main thoroughfare through the Old Town is popularly called, was an island, offering some protection from attack, but, of course, the walls began to grow up to give those first fearful citizens their shelter.
That was in the 7th century. At that time, these lands were under the protection of Byzantium. Following the Crusades, Venice took over, and then the Croatian-Hungarian kingdom. But in the 14th century, by the force of skilled diplomacy, the nobles of Dubrovnik bargained their freedom, and this became a city-state which flourished for four centuries, maintaining independence from feared invaders such as the Turks, and, indeed, cultivating profitable relations with them.