About navigation and Nautical schools in Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik survived for a thousand years as an independent Republic. Its origin, development and downfall are related to the sea. For centuries it was a link between the Mediterranean countries, particularly its Eastern part and Balkan countries. All economic activities of this small state arose from the non-detachable connection of the town to the seafaring. This allowed this small town-state an independent survival and a rise into the most important maritime town on this side of the Adriatic Sea.

The Byzantine Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus in his work "On the management of the Empire" mentions that Dubrovnik ships had been transporting Croatian troops to Bari already in the year 869 to fight against Arabs Saracens.
Dubrovnik was an important military-maritime stronghold of the Byzantine governor of Dalmatian areas and it is known that in 1030 Dubrovnik’s ships engaged in the expedition undertaken by the Byzantines against the Arabs in the southern Italy.

Strengthening of the Croatian state in the struggle against the Venetians strengthened also the Dubrovnik maritime affairs and in 1153 the Arabian writer Al Idrisi speaks of Dubrovnik as the southernmost town on the Croatian territory and the town with many ships that undertake long voyages.
In the 13th century Dubrovnik ships sail to Syria, Egypt and other countries in the North Africa.

How important the maritime affairs were in the Dubrovnik Republic can be best seen in the Dubrovnik Statute of the year 1272, where the entire seventh book of the Statute is dedicated to the maritime industry.
By its liberation from the supreme government of Venice in 1358, Dubrovnik gets even bigger incentive to direct their trade by sea and then Dubrovnik's shipping and shipbuilding reach high quality. In the 14th century in Dubrovnik at least two hundred commercial and naval vessels were built of various types (years 1526 to 1808).

The biggest rise of the Dubrovnik maritime affairs was achieved under Turkish patronage, so Dubrovnik with its merchant navy was in the 16th century the most powerful town-state in the Mediterranean Sea. It is a time when the Republic of Dubrovnik has around 300 ships and 5.000 sailors. There are about 200 merchant sailing ships for out-Adriatic sailing with a total tonnage of around 66,000 tons. The annual income from the maritime industry amounts to approximately 150,000-200,000 gold pieces (ducats).

In the 16th century the inhabitants of Dubrovnik with their sailboats perform nautical and commercial operations in the ports of Albania, Greece, Black Sea, Sicily, Apennine Peninsula, North Africa, Spain, Portugal, all the way to Portsmouth, London and Hamburg.
At the same time, prominent Dubrovnik ship-owners have ships sailing under the flag of Spain and Portugal. Together with these ships, with their tonnage, in that period they were at the top of the then-known maritime world.
Due to changes in economic conditions in the Mediterranean during the 17th century there has been a gradual decline in naval power of the Dubrovnik Republic. Especially after the catastrophic earthquake that hit the centre of Dubrovnik in the year 1667.

Once again, Dubrovnik will rise at the end of the 18th century, when Dubrovnik’s sailing ships begin sailing across the Atlantic Ocean. After the abolition of their Republic in 1808 by Napoleon, the fate of Dubrovnik ships, sailors and traders has fundamentally changed.

Arrival of steamships in the 19th century caught unprepared the inhabitants of Dubrovnik, and in the new situation Dubrovnik did not have the same role in the maritime life of Europe as the one it had proudly kept for centuries.

Citizens of Dubrovnik were not only skilled sailors, but shipbuilders as well. Ships from Dubrovnik became known worldwide for its solidity, strength, and navigation capabilities. Dubrovnik’s ship ‘’karakun’’ (Italian: caraccone) was called "Argosy" (ARagosa) by Englishmen, a word that has become a synonymous for the solidly built ship carrying precious and rich cargo, and it is believed to have taken its origin from the Roman name of the Town of Dubrovnik - Ragusa.
Maritime trade together with the onshore trade developed a number of other unavoidable activities: shipbuilding, port development, transport, which connects the Town with the hinterland, maritime law, marine insurance, maritime health service and in connection with all these, maritime education.
Sailors' training for centuries unfolded in such a way that the knowledge and skills were obtained only with the work, during its performance. Older and more experienced sailors passed on their knowledge to the sailors on board during the work.

Wider knowledge, which the ship master had to have, was acquired partly through learning in practice and partly through various forms of private tuition.
It is known that in Dubrovnik and in the nearby town of Cavtat in course of the 18th century and also in the 19th century various courses were held where the seamen were taught how to work on the ship. These courses were held mostly by old and experienced captains of sailing ships.

The arrival of the Austrian government after the Congress of Vienna (in 1814) regulates the right to command ships, so no sailor could get permission to command ship unless he had passed the exam in the Nautical Academy in Trieste.
As this was hard to realize, on 24th Sept.1848 the Austro - Hungarian monarchy brought a decision to open its nautical schools along the then Austrian Coast and these were schools in Bakar, Zadar, Split, Dubrovnik, Kotor.

Last such school was opened in Dubrovnik in the year 1852.
The ocean navigation captain Jakov Podić who got trained at the Nautical Academy in Trieste became the first director of the Nautical School in Dubrovnik.
Nautical School in Dubrovnik was active in the Town's main elementary school.
"I.r. Istituto nautico-navale di Ragusa", as the school was then called, trained cadre of officers and commanders for long voyages and small coastal sailing, cadre capable of accounting affairs, and shipbuilders.

The Nautical School in Dubrovnik became an independent school in 1874, i.e. it split from the former elementary school. Up to the year 1881 the school changed three buildings within the Town walls.
It began working in the Gozze building (which houses the elementary school even today), and then continued to operate in the building of the Dominican Monastery and finally acted in the Grammar School  building (former convent of St. Catherine - now the Music School).

Since the school year 1881-82 the school works in a building on BRSALJE (now the restaurant Nautika), where it would remain for more than seven decades, specifically till the year 1954.

A lot of famous and prized captains came out of this school. Reputation of a sea captain was very big even outside the ship. The reputation in the maritime Dubrovnik was comparable with the reputation of doctors, lawyers and professors.
Since 1922  the school in Brsalje works as the "Nautical Academy". The training lasts for four years. The Academy was operating continuously in this same building in the time of World War II. In the year 1954 the school was relocated to a new location, and in 1959 the two-year Nautical College was founded.
Since 1997 the Faculty of Maritime Studies works in Dubrovnik.

About the catering facilities of BRSALJE

Catering facilities – coffee bars, inns and boarding houses existed in Dubrovnik even at the time of the Dubrovnik Republic. With the development of tourism and increased tourist traffic in the 19th century, the need also grows for additional facilities that will serve the growing new industry.

In 1817 a planned landscaping began in the Brsalje area, which became a town promenade. Brsalje is a part of Pile, just before the entrance to the Town, facing south towards the small sea bay. That year on both sides of the access road a line of mulberry trees was planted. And at the end of the walkway a public park was arranged, which became known as Theodora park. The place soon became a favourite gathering place for the citizens of Dubrovnik. Probably because for that reason in 1836 Nikola Birimiša built and opened a café in Brsalje ‘'Caffè all' Arciduca Federico '; soon it became the most popular Dubrovnik café. According to contemporaries’ words, during the morning it was full of tourists and in the afternoon there were more domestic people. It was, as they say, particularly animated in front of the Birimiša café on Sunday afternoons when the 'whole Town moved here to enjoy ice cream and listen to the military music chapel'. The café was later called 'Dubravka’. Around the year 1866, in the Pile area, in the building next to the sea and opposite to 'Dubravka’, yet another inn is mentioned -'Al Boschetto'. The inn also had rooms to let and was used as a hostel. It became known as the 'Albergo al Boschetto'. Namely, Brsalje at that time was covered with treetops of fully grown trees, so these plantations by the citizens of Dubrovnik were called 'Bošak', meaning grove, from which the hotel takes its name. The owner of this hotel was Captain Nikola Andrijašević. Hotel also worked in the eighties of the 19th century. The fact we know from the diary of the priest and writer Mato Vodopić (whose works are still performed during the Dubrovnik Summer Festival), who wrote that the emigrant Mato Kunić returned from South America where he had spent 25 years, where he had got married and had become rich…."He had gained something, his wife brought something", and that he, arriving with his wife in Dubrovnik, was staying at the inn 'Al Boschetto' in the Pile area. Until when this hotel existed is not determined with certainty. It is known only that it did not exist in the nineties of the 19th century because the Nautical College moved into the building in which the hotel was, and it stayed there until 1954. This is why the name ‘’Nautika’’ has remained permanently to this building. In the late eighties of the 20th century, the building became the property of the tourist agency 'Atlas', and along with a pertaining terrace it was converted into a prestigious catering facility named ‘Nautika’.