The historic centre of Dubrovnik, the City within the city walls with its nearest suburbs is the priceless cultural legacy of our people and a symbol of world's architectural patrimony. Since 1272 the City registers its urban regulations and interventions on the town's space in the 5th book of the Statute. They were supplemented in the 13 and 14th centuries particularly after the earthquake in 1667. Later on various interventions in the City were regulated through numerous decisions and records of the government but they were always carefully planned with rational relation to the space.
The latest archaeological researches and discovered material evidences definitely move the period of its foundation to the very beginning of the first millennium. This monumental stone City is a unique connection of rational decisions and visionary ideas. That is the result of life continuity on a limited area of a firm community that had existed in spite of frequent unfriendly surroundings. By spreading through the centuries and integrating the older parts of the settlement in a new entirety this community created the additional urban and architectural values.
As an urban entirety Dubrovnik was put on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1979. In the same year Dubrovnik struck a disaster earthquake of 7º MCS which damaged its surroundings, too.
Among over a thousand damaged buildings the most damaged ones were the highest value monuments within the historic centre.
After the earthquake the systematic and long-term planned renovation of Dubrovnik started. It was based on a specific law and insured a long-term financing from various sources, mainly from the Republic of Croatia. The emergency protective works at the beginning soon developed into a complete constructive reinforcement of the most damaged structures. The comprehensive revitalization of the historic centre was initiated soon after. The eminent experts from the whole country participated actively following all phases of renovation from its preparation to the realization through various scientific and professional institutions and particularly through the Expert Advisory Board.
Soon after the earthquake the Institute for Restoration of Dubrovnik was founded as an institution that continually takes care of the City renovation for the last thirty years. The Institute functioned in the most difficult moments, during the war aggression to Dubrovnik from 1991 till 1995. The experiences from the earthquake were precious in those days and the Institute experts participated in the boards for estimation of damages, were in charge for recording damages and issuing attestations of war damages in the region of Dubrovnik. The Institute also elaborated the pilot-project for establishing damages and estimation of costs for the reconstruction of six heavily destroyed historic villages in the region of Dubrovnik.
Soon after the end of the war the Institute took over the complex task of renovation the City from war damages. Although the most severe visible war damages on the buildings have been repaired in great deal, there are still many of those caused by the earthquake, which wait to be repaired. Only for the last ten years we have returned back to the constructive renovation of the buildings damaged by the earthquake in the City as they are in much worse state now then in the moment when their renovation was stopped.
The renovation is now limited only to the historic centre of Dubrovnik. It is significantly changed the approach towards the seismic renovation; basic entirety of renovation is a block, a row. The seismic renovation is done partially from the exterior side of the row, the block. The significant works have been done on reinforcement and consolidation of the outside bearing masonry as well as on reinforcement of the constructive system of the entirety by fitting the ties of stainless steel. The roofs are also being repaired. That is the maximal possible intervention in the conditions of lodged buildings.
The renewal as an idea has not been explicitly defined in our constructing regulations and it means executing simultaneously several different activities on a immovable cultural asset with the purpose of its revitalization and reinforcement like: constructive renewal and seismic reinforcement, restoration and somewhere reconstruction, restitution, adaptation, clearing from recent inappropriate interventions etc. That proves to be an ideal term for a set of heterogeneous activities that follow a significant intervention on an immovable cultural asset which started more intensively after the earthquake of 1979 through our Institute.
Beside their professional supervision the experts from the Institute for Restoration of Dubrovnik perform an important function of coordinators as without it would be impossible to synchronize the participation of various experts in the renovation process. Their role is particularly important in case of new findings when minor corrections or adjustments of the basic project must be done. Sometimes it is necessary to do protective conservation and restoration works parallel to constructive renovation. Due to different and sometimes even opposed interests between investors, contractors, conservators, designers and owners, it is necessary to reach consensus of all parties in specific solutions and continuity of the works to the benefit of the monument.
The works on renovation are not performed only for the monuments but for the residents who live in them and give the City its special atmosphere. We consider the renovation process a part of revitalization of the historic centre and that is why we plead for more investments and more projects to enable the residents' come back to the City and its living in the future.
From the material point of view, with the renovation a circle should be closed, in which, the collected financial means on the symbolic values of the City are mainly returned back and through the renovation deposited in the recovery, strengthening and preserving its physical structures that are bearers of those symbolic values. It should be regulated through the legal provisions which would ensure the permanent financing of the renewal of Dubrovnik.
In terms of the past City's participation in the renovation programme funding it is necessary to increase it as well as the participation of the Association of Friends of Dubrovnik Antiquities which is financing the systematic years-long renewal of the church of St. Blaise.
The renovation has full qualified and financial support of the Republic of Croatia which finances and follows the renovation through the Ministry of culture and through The Conservation Department in Dubrovnik it ensures supervision of the conservators' works.