The archive is situated in the Sponza Palace. Before and during the time of the Dubrovnik Republic, it was housed in the Rector's Palace. In terms of the wealth of the materials and the historical documents preserved within the archive, it is considered to be one of the most significant archives in the world. Despite all the catastrophes that destroyed this city and its administrative palaces, the Republic and later the city of Dubrovnik have succeeded in preserving its millennium of written history compiled in the original documents kept in the Dubrovnik archive.
The archive has 7000 reams of manuscripts and about 100,000 individual manuscripts covering the period from the 12th century to the fall of the Republic. Already in the 13th century, the Republic introduced the systematic recording and keeping of all public and private legal documents, composed before the state authorities and registered in the official books. All of the written documents which confirmed the rights of the Republic and regulated its relations with other cities, countries and rulers were also kept. Since 1278, all of the documents of the officials of the Republic, copies of all testaments, records of all three Republic councils, a wealth of official correspondence, in addition to records on ships, their sailings, crew and passenger lists and more. The entire history of the political, diplomatic, economic, shipping, trading and all other areas of life of the Republic are preserved in the documents within its archive. Much material on other Balkan countries and further abroad is also kept in this precious archive.
The archive also holds numerous documents from the more recent history of the city and the greater Dubrovnik region, from the 19th and 20th centuries, to the present day.