Dubrovnik: The medieval city designed around quarantine – BBC News

Since ancient times, societies have attempted to separate people with disease from those who remained unaffected, with references to self-isolation dating back to the Old Testament. As Covid-19 sweeps across the globe, we are advised to “self-quarantine” if we have recently returned from a part of the world where the virus is rapidly spreading, or if we have knowingly come into contact with an infected person. To understand the importance of self-quarantining during this modern-day pandemic, it’s helpful to look back to the history of the word “quarantine” itself, which traces its origins to medieval Europe.

Two linked trade ports

Like Venice, Dubrovnik (formerly Ragusa) has always been a city popular with travellers from around the world; today, both are Unesco World Heritage sites. During medieval times, Venice and Ragusa were powerful trade ports with intertwined histories: Ragusa recognised Venetian suzerainty from 1205 until 1358, but still retained much of its independence. In 1420, when Dalmatia (a coastal region bordering the Adriatic Sea, now mostly in present-day Croatia) was sold to Venice, Dubrovnik remained a free city in all but name.