The greatest value – Freedom and prohibition of slavery
The Dubrovnik Republic was built on the idea that the highest value of human life is its freedom. Ragusans enormously valued freedom of every man, so much that Dubrovnik introduced the official flag of the Republic, which is a white flag with golden letters ”Libertas” on it – Libertas meaning freedom on Latin. The flag was further inspired by the Republic’s motto: “Non bene pro toto libertas venditur auro” – “Freedom is not to be sold for all the gold” – a guideline behind every decision making and governing the Republic. The motto of the Republic is engraved over the entrance to Fort Lovrijenac.
Dubrovnik has always been against slavery.
In 1416 The Republic of Dubrovnik officially banned slavery and became one of the first countries in Europe and in the world to do so.
With a vote of 75 for the ban – and just three against, members of the Grand Chamber condemned slavery as “shameful, wrong and disgusting, and against all humanity”. Anyone who disobeyed the law was fined and sentenced to a six-month spell in the lower dungeons. It took most other countries several centuries to catch up – the slave trade was not banned in Britain until 1833, and in the US until 1865. The last country to officially abolish slavery was Mauritania in 1981, though it was not made a crime there till 2007.
The Republic of Ragusa was the first country in the world to recognize the independence of the United States of America! The Dubrovnik Embassy in Paris awarded the act of confession to Thomas Jefferson himself.
Ivan Gundulić, the famous Dubrovnik writer is in local and regional slang known as the Shakespeare of Dubrovnik. He is credited with standardizing the Croatian language. His most famous work is the hymn of freedom “Dubravka” whose first verse is world known and causes goosebumps every time it is recited, – “Oh beautiful, oh dear, oh sweet freedom“. The 10th of August marks the beginning of the Dubrovnik Summer Festival, a spectacle featuring 45 days of artistic expression in Dubrovnik whose opening ceremony starts by raising the Libertas flag on top of Orlando’s Column and reciting Gundulić’s hymn of freedom.
In a square bearing his name is a monument with his statue and four bronze reliefs. The panels depict scenes from Osman, his greatest literary work. The reliefs depict scenes from Osman, his greatest literary work where the relief facing the front of the statue carries a larger symbolic meaning. This relief shows a lady sitting on the throne surrounded by two beasts, a winged lion and a dragon; the lady on the throne represents Dubrovnik while the beasts surrounding her represent its enemies. The lion is a symbol of Venice and the dragon of the Ottoman Empire or the Turkish threat on the east.
The square is known as a green market (08:00 – 14:00), but famous as a pigeon feeding ground. The birds are fed every day at noon and their descent creates a temporary eclipse over the square.