Lazareti were built as one of the preventive health measures to protect the population of Dubrovnik during the time of Dubrovnik Republic.
Once upon the time Dubrovnik was a really important port, welcoming travelers from all over the world – one would say not much changed. But, it was a different time then, so back in 1337 the Dubrovnik Republic made a decision which introduced quarantine, for the first time in the world, as a measure of protection against spreading of infectious diseases, especially the plague. This decision was published in the so-called Green Book (Liber viridis) entitled: Veniens de locis pestiferis non Intra Ragusim nel districtum – Who comes from infected regions, should not get into Dubrovnik nor its area.
It was determined that the locals or foreigners coming from infectious regions can't enter the city, if they don't spend 30 days on the islands Mrkan, Bobara and Supetar, close to Cavtat.
In the decision made in 1397 it is said that foreigners and their ships can’t sail west from Molunat or east of Mljet, and are determined to be in the quarantine on the island Mrkan where at that time was a Franciscan monastery and on Mljet where there is Benedictine monastery.
Because of the distance, but also for strategic reasons, quarantine was moved closer to Dubrovnik in the 15th century.
At the beginning of the 15th century in Dubrovnik there was a quarantine on the Dance, one of the oldest beaches in Dubrovnik. In 1430 for this purpose some houses in the town park Gradac were chosend, and since 1457 quarantine at Dance is built, along with a church. Good organization of this quarantine allowed the complete abandonment of those on the islands near Cavtat.
In 1533 started the building of quarantine on the island of Lokrum. Although a large square quarantine was built, it was never completed or used. At the end of the 15th century, a decision was made on the construction of the Lazareti at Ploce. The start of construction was in 1590 and it was completed in 1642. Duration of quarantine was extended from thirty to forty days and health workers called 'kacamorti' were in charge to check if the rules of quarantene were respected.
Lazareti are impressive complex made of ten halls, among which are five internal courtyards with two houses at the entrance and the end. The complex is surrounded by a high wall and doors from the sea and the land side.
They now host some of Dubrovnik associations, such as Desa and Lindjo, but some of the halls are still searching for their purporses.