Although there are signs that there were people moving through Makarska as early as 2000 BC, the first mention of settlements in this were in the 4th century where the Illyrians settled in the port of Aronia. Documentation from the Salona Parliament of 4 May 533 shows Muccurum as a place where the diocese was created.
In 887 was held a great battle between the Venetian Republic and the Neretva principality in which Doge Pietro I Candiano himself was killed. Venetians were then entered into a contract with the Croatian Prince Branimir and agreed to pay a tribute for free navigation in the Adriatic and trading.
In the next following centuries, there was often a struggle for power within Makarska and it went from being in the Croatian Kingdom in the 12th century to once again living under Venetian rule a century later. Soon after this, the Venetians were overthrown and Makarska came under Turkish rule.
The city was once again annexed to the Venetian Republic in 1684. After the Venetia Republic fell, Makarska was given to the Austrians in 1791 before Napoleon took the upper hand and the French took over the city, during this time the city experienced its cultural and economic rise.