In 1434 the first orphanage was opened in Dubrovnik, making it one of the first ever institutions of its kind in the world. The government of the Republic of Dubrovnik was way ahead of its time in the care and treatment of children. The council decreed in 1432 that an orphanage be opened in the city with their decision reading “It is disgusting and inhuman to throw small human beings around the city as if they were animals.” This started the movement to open an orphanage to take care of the city’s children.
The first orphanage was located in the heart of the Old City opposite the Franciscan Monastery in Dominik Zaltarić street and the remnants of this can still be seen to this day. A blocked off doorway and window can clearly be seen with the inscription over the door of “My heart was hot within me, while I was musing the fire burned,” in Latin.
During the time of the Republic children would stay in the orphanage until the age of six, after which they were given for adoption or sometimes their parents would take them back. As many of the children ended up in the orphanage due to the extreme poverty of their parents. And to avoid the shame of handing their children over to the orphanage a small entrance space was created in the front of the building on which parents would place their children and then by turning a wheel the plate would then swing inside carrying the baby.