Cavtat is the largest and the only urban centre in Konavle that has been built up deliberately. Located on the Rat peninsula, which, together with the Sustjepan peninsula, surrounds the well protected and accessible bay. In its harmonious architecture, one can observe the centuries-old natural, spiritual and material ties to the Dubrovnik Republic.
Cavtat, known as Epidaurus in antique times, was an important Roman colony in this region. After Slavic and Avarian numbers in the area rose the colony expired, forcing its inhabitants to flee to the nearby settlement Laus-Rave-Ragus, the very settlement that is the foundation of Dubrovnik. Some ancient sources mention Cavtat under the name of Ragusa Vecchia, indicating a strong connection between the two cities. During the Dubrovnik Republic, Cavtat was seen as a very important sea port, trade and administration hub in the Republic, second only to Dubrovnik.
Places that offer so much to visitors are a rare find. Even the most demanding tourist will find something suiting their wishes: the beautiful scenery, rich cultural and historic heritage combined with a wide range of services make this town a very attractive destination on the Adriatic coast. Cavtat itself is located between Dubrovnik and Konavle: one can still feel the spirit of times past and experience the old traditions permeating the area to this day. By all accounts it's an ideal holiday resort, with something for everyone, be it exploring and enjoying hidden coves in peace, spending the day enjoying long walks along the seaside or even participating in sports and watching one of many entertaining cultural programs.
Cavtat (from the Latin Civitas), while being established by the Illyrians, had a turbulent record of rule and possesion: it was under Greek and Roman rule, it was seized by different powers, ravaged by invading Avars and Slavs. It had part of its population flee to the islet of Laus which later became Dubrovnik. Early on in the 15th century, Cavtat became a part of the Dubrovnik Republic when the western part of Konavle was taken over from Bosnian magnate Radoslav Pavlović.
Many famous Croats were born in Cavtat: the lawyer Baltazar Bogišić, painter Vlaho Bukovac, politician Frano Supilo to name a few . The Rector's, or rather Captain's, Palace is a Renaissance structure dating from 1555-1558. This is home to the Bogošić library, archive, museum and stone monument collection (including two inscriptions by the Roman Governor Dolabelle from the 1st century) and a graphical collection with over 10,000 pages compiled by Bogišić. The Baroque Church of St. Nicholas, in its current appearance from 1732, contains eight paintings of the old masters and paintings by Vlaho Bukovac in its vault. The Church of Our Lady of Snow and the Franciscan monastery with its Renaissance cloister date back to 1483. From the church, a trail heads through the pine woods to the peak of a nearby hill where the graveyard is located, and which is dominated by the Račić family mausoleum (architecturally designed and sculptured by Ivan Meštrović in 1920-1922). The Kaboga Palace also dates back to the time of Dubrovnik Republic.
Legend on the origin of the name of Cavtat
There is an interesting legend concerning the town name, as it states that two suitors asking the beautiful Cavtislava's hand in marriage( the daughter of the Epidaurian ruler). Her father would give his approval to either suitor, depending on which one performed the bigger task. One of the suitors, a commander named Stjepan, was required to bring aquaviva from the Vodovađa source in Konavle, while the other, a knight and seafarer, was required to bring a ship brimming with silk from the far corners of the known world. On the day of the festivities, commemmorating the opening of the Epidaurian viaduct, the beautiful Cavtislava was to first drink water from a golden jar, but before she could do so a big lizard jumped out of the water, landing directly onto the girls lap. Cavtislava's heart failed her and she died immediately. According to tales in the common tongue, the unfortunate seafarer, whose ship was sunk by a huge storm directly in front of Epidaurus, and who therefore was not able to fulfill his task, put the lizard into the viaduct since he could not bear the loss of the girl. In memory of the beautiful Cavtislava arose Cavtat to replace the ravaged town of Epidaurus, destroyed in an earthquake.
Another legend says that Cavtat derives its name from the Old-Croatian verb 'captiti' - 'to blossom', refering to the yellow juniper, a widespread sparkling plant with a sunny aura. The legend relates its doom to the catastrpohes after which the indestructible Cavtat would come back to life again and anew. "... down there, there's something adorned with gold blossoming it the reef..."
Konavle Tourist Board
Zidine 6; 20210 Cavtat
Tel: +385 (0) 20 478025
Fax: +385 (0) 20 479025