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This great fortress in the shape of an irregular rectangle was constructed outside the city walls, in the eastern part of the city, in front of the Ploce Gates in the middle of the 16th century, when the Dubrovnik Republic was again under great threat from Venice. It was built quickly – all the remaining public works, in addition to a great deal of the private works in the town were halted in order to complete construction of the fortress as soon as possible and to reinforce the defence of the city port and the eastern part of town which was least protected. It was built according to the plans of engineer Antun Ferramolinna, sent to aid the Republic by the Spanish Admiral Dori, a great friend to the Republic. The monumental and impressive structure, surrounded by the sea on one side and three moats, was a dignified and unconquerable guard over the Dubrovnik port. With one corner, it entered into the eastern city gate, the Ploce Gates, thus forming a unique defence complex that protected the eastern land entrance to the city. Revelin has great vaulted rooms and the largest terrace in Dubrovnik, and therefore, is an exceptional ambient which is ideal as a stage for various performances of the summer festival.
With its lovely stone wreaths, it was also built according to the plans of Michelozzi. Its purpose was to defend the main entrance gates, drawbridge and moat at Pile. Today, it is a venue for performances of the Dubrovnik Summer Festival.
With its magnificent crown, this tower has dominated the city for centuries and continues to dominate today. It was the symbol of its freedom and a spiteful challenge to all the impertinent, and today is one of the most beautiful symbols of the city. With its lovely architecture, it is one of the most beautiful fortifications in the world. It was built by skilled masters: the original was smaller and square, built by Nicifor Ranjina in 1319. It was adapted and received its current monumental circular form from the famed Renaissance architect Michelozzo Michelozzi from Florence and one of the greatest Croatian Renaissance masters Juraj Dalmatinac, by whose project the tower was completed in 1464. The top of this impressive structure provides a stunning view of the town and all its surroundings.
St John Fortress
This was the main defence for the city port and one of the most important defence fortresses of the city. The first tower in this location was erected in the middle of the 14th century and today is a constituent part of this fortress. Later, over several decades, the tower was expanded, fortified and adapted. It received its current semicircular form and the monumental appearance of the entire structure in the 16th century. Standing guard on the other side of the harbour is the tower of St. Luke, one of the oldest preserved city towers, constructed in the 13th century. The city port was closed off at night, by a chain which stretched from the Tower of St. Luke to the Mula Tower, today the Fort of St. John. At the end of the 15th century, the port jetty, called Kase, was built by the renowned Dubrovnik engineer Paskoje Milicevic. With the construction of the Kase jetty, the port was doubly protected: from high waves and adverse sea conditions while also reinforcing the defence system in the port to protect from the eternal threat of attack from the sea.
Fort of St. Lawrence
Yet another monumental and impressive fortress, the Fort of St. Lawrence, lies outside the city walls at the western entrance to the city. It proudly sits on its steep cliffs, 37 metres in height, and seeped in legends on how it came to be as well as the heroic acts of its guards and defenders. It dominates both the sea and land entrances to the city on the western side, and together with Bokar Fort, closes in and protects Dubrovnik’s oldest harbour, Kalarinja. The Fort of St. Lawrence caused many problems for those who attempted to jeopardize the freedom of the Republic, primarily the Venetians.
Dubrovnik historians have written an interesting tale about how it came to be built. At the beginning of the 11th century, the Venetians allegedly intended to build their own great fortress at the same location, in order to hold Dubrovnik powerless against them. The people of Dubrovnik learned of the intention of the Venetians and they immediately decided to build a fortress on this virtually inaccessible cliff to protect the city from the Venetians. Historians claim that the fortress was built in three months time. When the Venetians sailed in with the materials intended to build the fort, they were left only to see that the people of Dubrovnik had outwitted them and beat them to it. The fort has exceptionally thick walls on three sides, the north, west and southwest, the sides the enemy could approach from. These walls are between 4 and 12 metres thick. On the eastern part of the fortress facing Dubrovnik, the walls are only 60 centimetres thick. This was also a wise precautionary measure by the Dubrovnik Republic, for in the event that the fort commander, who was always from the ranks of the aristocracy, tried to act as a tyrant over the city, the Republic’s artillery could easily penetrate this wall from one of the other fortresses, thus preventing any such attempts. The fort was armed with cannons and the exceptionally large cannon “Guster” (the lizard), a masterpiece by domestic cannon maker Ivan Rabljanin.
Throughout the centuries, this fort was adapted many times and following the fall of the Republic, it served a different purpose: it was a military base during the Austrian occupation, then it was converted into a hospitality facility. In 1933, the Fort of St. Lawrence was the venue for several sessions of the PEN club (meetings of the most eminent writers of the world, who then discovered Dubrovnik as a tourist attraction). For centuries, the fort was the greatest defender of the city’s freedom, and engraved above its gates is a message for descendents and for the world “Non bene pro toto libertas venditur auro”, (“Freedom cannot be sold for all the treasures of the world”). Today, in this free city and free country, the fort shines again with its former greatness, and freely flies the flag of the Dubrovnik Summer Festival with its symbol “Libertas” (Freedom).
The City Walls
The most recognizable landmark that define the physiognomy of the historical city of Dubrovnik and give the city its characteristic and world known reputation are the untouched city walls; the walls surround the city with a total length of 1940 metres. This complex fortress, one of the most beautiful and solid fortress systems on the Mediterranean, is composed of a range of forts, bastions, casemates, towers and freestanding fortresses. The walls were constructed during difficult times when the city and Republic were in constant danger; the walls have been maintained today not only because of the knowledge of the skilled construction workers and the constant care provided by city dwellers that maintained and rebuilt the structures as needed, but because of the brilliantly reputed diplomacy in Dubrovnik which managed on many occasions to avoid dangerous measures taken by enemies against the Dubrovnik Republic.
The Dubrovnik Old Town is completely surrounded by walls and fortresses, including the Old City Port. The history of the fortifications in Dubrovnik goes back to the early Middle Ages. It is certain that the early town on Laus Island was also surrounded by defensive walls. The fact that Dubrovnik managed to survive the fifteen month long invasion by the Saracens in the 9th century proves how well the city was fortified. The city first spread towards the uninhabited eastern part of the island. That is why the current name for the southeast part of the city, next to the Fort of St. John, Pustijerna, comes from the Latin statement “post terra”, which means outside the town. In the 9th and 10th century, the defensive wall enclosed the eastern portion of the city. In the 11th century, when the narrow sea strait where Placa is located today dried up, the city was connected to the village that already existed on the coast; and soon afterward, a single defensive wall was constructed around the area which today is equal to the size of the core of the Old Town. In the 13th century, the entire city was surrounded by the defensive walls except the Dominican monastery, which entered into the city defensive walls in the 14th century. On average, the walls were 1.5 metres thick, constructed of stone and limestone. In order to strength the wall surfaces and improve defence, 15 square towers were constructed in the 14th century. Large works were completed at the end of the 14th century after the city was finally liberated from Venetian rule. The largest stimulus for continued development and emergency repairs and works of the Dubrovnik fortresses came with the unexpected danger of attack by Turkish military forces after they took over Istanbul in 1453; the city was also under danger latent danger of attack by the Venetians. Due to a great efforts by the citizens and rulers of Dubrovnik, as well as the talents of many skilled workers who were brought in during the emergency, most of the land facing parts of the fortress were strengthened; all this, along with the construction of fortresses and the semi-circle bastion on the bulwark, was completed in less than three years. The system was expanded and modernized during the 16th century, and later. Today’s extent of the city walls dates back to the 16th century, while the definite appearance of this system dates back to what we call the Golden Age of Dubrovnik, from the fall of Istanbul in 1453 to the catastrophic earthquake that devastated Dubrovnik in 1667. The main walls on the landside are between 4 and 6 metres thick, while the walls on the seaside range from 1.5 metres to 3 metres in thickness. At certain locations, the walls reach up to 25 metres in height. On the landside, the wall is protected with an additional range of slanted supporting walls, to provide defence from cannons. The irregular parallelogram, which surrounds Dubrovnik, has four strong fortresses at its most significant points. To the north is the strong circular tower Fort Minceta, to the east side of the city port is the Revelin Fortress, and the large and complex Fort of St. John is located on the southeast side of the city. The western entrance to the city is protected by the strong and nicely shaped Bokar Fort. The western side of the city is protected from land and sea attacks by the strong, freestanding Fort of St. Lawrence (Lovrijenac). Along with this outstanding fortification, the city walls are also protected by two additional round towers, 12 square towers, 5 bastions and 2 cornerstone forts, while the expanded bulwarks are flanked with one large and 9 small semi-circular bastions. Along the landside of the city fortification, a deep moat was added for extra protection. The entire fortification system also consisted of numerous cannons. The cannons were manufactured in local workshops, which Dubrovnik was recognized for in this part of the world. The most recognized cannon manufacturer in the 16th century was Ivan Rabljanin from Dubrovnik. In periods of full combat readiness, the Dubrovnik city walls were protected with over 120 cannons. Communication with the outside world was maintained with the city through two well-protected city gates, one placed on the western side of the city and the other placed on the eastern side. On the western side was the entrance to the city, the Pila Gates, which was complex and well fortified, while the eastern entrance, the Ploce Gates, was protected by the freestanding Revelin fortress. Both entrances and the city were constructed so that communications with the city could not be carried out directly; the messenger had to enter through multiple doors and walk down the winding passageway, which is evidence of the security measures taken as a last defence against the possibility of a surprise breach or entrance by unexpected visitors. In the city port area, one of the most significant areas of the maritime trade city, there were two entrances: Ponte Gate (port) and the Fish Market Gate.
The city port was protected from strong waves and surprise invasion by the Kase jetty. The entire layout of the Dubrovnik streets, as well as a range of expansions, was intended for fast and effective communication with the forts of the city walls. Today, a walk along the city walls is a true tourist attraction. From this viewpoint, it is easiest to understand the old city of Dubrovnik, as a different angle of the city opens from each new viewing point, especially when you look down upon the streets and squares which uncover an entire range of picturesque details. Here one can experience the atmosphere of the city and its layout in size and width, which is impossible to notice while walking along the city streets. Along with unforgettable images of the city, such a walk will reveal a magnificent view of the open sea before Dubrovnik and provides a view of the city surroundings.
The Sacral buildings
The cathedral was built on the site of several former cathedrals, including 7th, 10th and 11th century buildings, and their 12th century successor in the Romanesque style. The portal of the facade is flanked by four Corinthian columns. On top of the central part is a large Baroque window with a triangular gable and a balustrade with statues of saints. The deep niches in the facade contains statues of Saint Blaise (patron saint of Dubrovnik) and Joseph with Child. The lateral sides of the cathedral are rather plain, articulated by pillars and semicircular windows. The side entrances are smaller than the frontal portal.
The building features a high nave, separated by massive columns from the two aisles, three apses and a grand Baroque dome at the intersection of the nave and the transepts. The main altar holds a polyptych by Titian, portraying a version of the Assumption of the Virgin. This painting probably dates from 1552; the side altars hold paintings of Italian and Dalmatian masters of later centuries.
This building was largely destroyed in the earthquake of 1667. The Senate of Dubrovnik appealed to the Italian architect Andrea Bufalini of Urbino, who sent a model for the new church in Baroque style with a nave, two aisles and a cuppola. Several other Italian architects, all working with local and imported stonemasons, completed the Cathedral over the next three decades. The style of the Cathedral is in keeping with the esthetics of Roman Baroque architecture.
Church of the holy saviour
This church was constructed between the Franciscan monastery and the Pile Gates, to the very city walls, in 1520. This small votive church, according to the decision by the Dubrovnik Senate, was built as a sign of gratitude for the salvation from the earthquake which struck the same year. In the 1667 earthquake, the church remained undamaged, and has been preserved to the present day in its original decor. It is the work of domestic master builders from Korcula, the Andrijic brothers, who fit the church in perfectly with its surroundings. With the construction of this lovely little church with its decorative facade, they left behind yet another pearl of Dubrovnik Renaissance architecture.
St. Ignacio Jesuit Church
Across Bunic Square, located on the western side of the Cathedral, we see Gundulic Square and its wide Baroque staircase leading up to Boskovic Square where one of the most beautiful Baroque constructions in Dubrovnik was built, the Jesuit Church. Built at the end of the 17th century and the beginning of the 18th century, the Church was based on a project by Italian architect Andrea Pozza, and has a beautiful Baroque portal and an impressive facade dominated the square. Significant pieces of art that decorate this Church were created by Gaetano Garcia, an Italian Baroque painter originally from Spain. He decorated the apses of the Church with scenes portraying the life of St. Ignacio Loyole, the founder of the Jesuit order. Next to this Church is a large building constructed for the renowned Dubrovnik University, Collegium Ragusnium, built based on the project by Ranji and Canalin. The wisest people in the Republic attended this University. The Roman builder Padalacqua created the project for the Baroque staircase, which perfectly compliments the Church.
The Church of St. Blaise
This is a Baroque church and one of the city’s major sights. Saint Blaise (St. Vlaho), identified by medieval Slavs with the pagan god Veles, is the patron saint of the city of Dubrovnik and formerly the protector of the independent Republic of Ragusa.
The church was built in 1715 by the Venetian architect and sculptor Marino Gropelli on the foundations of the badly damaged Romanesque medieval church. He modeled the church on Sansovino’s Venetian church of San Maurizio. The church consists of a single square nave with a ground plan in the form of an inscribed Greek cross, an apse flanked by two sacristies and an oblong cupola in the center. A flight of stairs leads to the portal, decorated with statues of angels. The facade is divided by four Corinthian columns. On top of the facade is a semicircular gable and a balustrade with three statues, a free standing Saint Blaise and personifications of Faith and Hope.
The barrel-vaulted interior is richly decorated in Baroque style. The Corinthian columns in the center bear the tambour of the cupola and lantern. The corners of the nave show blind cupolas. The main altar, in a combination of white and polychrome marble, shows in a high niche a precious, gilt silver Gothic statue of Saint Blaise, crafted in the 15th century.
Convent of St Claire
On the south side of the Pile Gates, next to the Great Onofrio Fountain, is a small square which nicely frames the structure which was one of the best known Dubrovnik convents until the French occupation. The Convent of St. Claire was constructed at the end of the 13th and beginning of the 14th century. In one part of this convent, an orphanage for abandoned and illegitimate children was opened in 1434, and was one of the first such institutions in the world.
The French administration under the rule of Napoleon closed down the convent and turned it into a munitions warehouse, and later into a horse stable.
On the western side of the city, under the protection of the city walls and the unconquerable Minceta Fort, is the Franciscan monastery Male brace (Little brothers). This monastery and the Dominican one are a cultural, artistic and historical legacy of the Dubrovnik Republic. The old Franciscan monastery was once situated outside the city walls in the suburb of Pile. However, due to the threat of war which threatened the Republic in the early 14th century, the Franciscans were forced to move into the city, demolish the old monastery and build a new within the protected city walls. The construction of the monastery began in 1317 and lasted many years.
The monastery complex encompasses a large space, from Place (Stradun) to the Minceta Fort. Over the centuries, individual sections were affected and caved in, particularly during the great earthquake of 1667, when the beautiful church, one of the loveliest and richest at the time, was completely destroyed. All that was preserved of the original appearance of the church were the southern doors, vaulted with a sculpture of the Pieta of exceptional beauty and artistic value, framed with an archivolt in the Gothic style. This monumental portal even today testifies to the former beauty of the church, and is also one of the most significant works of the late Gothic period in Dubrovnik. It was constructed in 1499 by the Petrovic brothers, Dubrovnik master builders. The monastery cloister is considered to be one of the loveliest structures in Dubrovnik. The ambient of exceptional harmony, with its luxurious decor of stone, framed with a colonnade of double hexafores, each with a different and unique capital – the work of master builder Mihoje Brajkov from Bar, who completed these works in the middle of the 14th century.
This cloister is also a magnificent realization of the late Romanesque style on our coast. Furthermore, the monastery has yet another (upper) Gothic cloister which survived the great earthquake, for the purposes of the monastery and is inaccessible to the public. Still operating within the framework of the monastery is the pharmacy, founded at the same time as the monastery in 1317, making it one of the oldest in Europe (third by time of establishment), and perhaps the oldest in Europe in terms of continuity of operations from establishment to the present day. The monastery library is considered to be one of the most significant old libraries in Croatia and in the world. It is home to a wealth of cultural and historical treasures of Dubrovnik, including over 1200 old manuscripts of immeasurable cultural and historical value, 137 incunabula and 7 books of old church chorales. Overall, a total of 20,000 items.
The monastery museum collection is housed in the great Renaissance hall, which is entered through the cloister. The museum includes a complete collection of the inventory of the old pharmacy, a unique collection. There are also valuable items from the goldsmith trade, made of gold and silver, paintings of the old masters, exhibits of rare library items and more. The Franciscan church also has a specific and unforgettable ambient, where musical concerts are organized as part of the Dubrovnik Summer Festival, as well as numerous other concerts throughout the year.
The Dominican Monastery is situated on the eastern side of the city, encompassed by the tall city walls and protected by the powerful Fort Revelin. The monastery is one of the richest treasuries of cultural, artistic and historical heritage of old Dubrovnik.
With the financial assistance of the Dubrovnik authorities and with the hard work of the residents of the entire area, who were ordered to work on the building, the construction of this great urban complex continued until 1301. In the beginning, the monastery was situated outside the city walls, at an important defence position for the Republic. It was quickly included into the entire defence structure of the city, thus creating a whole together with the city. It was only partially damaged by the earthquake, and with its magnificent monumentalism, which is not as apparent from the external street side, it is one of the loveliest architectural monuments of old Dubrovnik. By its position, ambient and beauty, this unique monastery and urban complex, together with its individual structures, is harmoniously joined into one entity. It was constructed gradually over several centuries, from the 14th to the 16th century, with some reconstruction occurring later. Elements of varying styles are visible, Romanesque and Baroque, while the majority of elements are an interweaving of the flowery Gothic and Renaissance. The works were conducted by many domestic masters, from Dubrovnik and Zadar, in cooperation with the Italians. The magnificently embellished courtyard, with its columns, cloisters, beautiful trefoils and stone well in the centre of the courtyard were carved, built and embellished by the domestic masters Utisenovic, Grubacevic and Radmanovic and others according to the original plans by the master Masso di Bartolomeo from Florence in the middle of the 15th century.
This courtyard is considered to be one of the most splendid realizations of Dalmatian flowery Gothic architecture of the second half of the 15th century. The sacristy in the Gothic style was constructed by renowned domestic master Paskoje Milicevic from Dubrovnik at the end of the 15th century, who also constructed many other significant structures in Dubrovnik. As a show of gratitude, his name is engraved into one of the walls of this church with public praise, and he was buried in this church, as were many other deserving citizens of Dubrovnik. The south portal, richly embellished, is the work of Bonino from Milan.
The monastery has a very rich collection of art, in particular, valuable paintings by the greatest Dubrovnik painters: Polyptych (15th century) by Lovro Dobricevic, Triptych (16th century) by Mihajl Hamzic, and several paintings by Nikola Bozidarevic. Particularly interesting is Bozidarevic’s Triptych, in which an accurate model of Dubrovnik from the early 16th century is depicted in the arms of St. Blaise (Vlaho). The collection includes several works by Vlaho Bukovac, the distinguished Croatian painter born in Cavtat (20th century), in particular the altar painting ‘The Miracle of St. Dominic’ and well as pieces by modern Dubrovnik painter Ivo Dulcic. Of the old masters, the most well known paintings are the crucifix by the great Venetian artist Paolo Veneziano, a work of great artistic value (14th century), Tiziano’s altar painting St. Magdalene (16th century) and icons of masters from Crete and Venice (16th century), the diptych by Flemish masters (16th century) and others.
The monastery has a precious museum collection, including valuable artefacts of golden art by domestic masters. Of particular note are the lovely chalice, the Gothic-Renaissance monstrance and the silver cross. The monastery library and archives house valuable manuscripts, including 220 incunabula. Several of the manuscripts are decorated with exceptionally lovely initial letters.
During the Dubrovnik Summer Festival, the monastery church is the venue for concerts of sacral chamber music, and offers the visitors an unforgettable experience in the exceptional acoustics and special ambient of this beautiful church.
All the trading voyages of the Dubrovnik Republic entered in and flowed in through this palace, one of the most beautiful in the city. The trading spirit of Dubrovnik was known to delegate such fitting buildings to itself, thereby confirming its wealth and culture by constructing such a luxurious palace with its impressive facade.
It was constructed in a combination of Gothic and Renaissance styles, according to the project by the talented head engineer of the Dubrovnik Republic, Paskoje Milicevic. Its exuberant beauty confirms the originality and its distinctive construction, what could be called the Dubrovnik way -the successfully realization of the expressive possibilities of various styles in the exceptionally harmonic architecture of this palace resembling lace cast in stone.
Its construction began in 1516. The Andrijic brothers, from the well known Korcula family of builders and sculptors did all the carving and stone works. The palace was originally intended to be a custom’s house where traded goods brought here from all corners of the world by the traders were to be taxed. The palace courtyard, entirely in arcades, was the liveliest trading centre and the meeting place for the business people of the Republic. One of the wings was home to the mint, founded in the 14th century, where coins were printed for the Republic and which operated out of this palace right up until the fall of the Republic. Near the end of the 16th century, the Sponza Palace became the cultural centre of the Republic. Here is where the most educated citizens of Dubrovnik met in their association “Academy of the Learned”, which had its seat in this palace, to discuss literature, art and all the scientific achievements of the time. The first school in Dubrovnik was also organized at the Sponza Palace.
Today the Sponza Palace, peaceful and dignified, guards the most precious historical documentation of Dubrovnik: the Dubrovnik archive which contains materials from the oldest history of Dubrovnik and the surrounding areas, from all the centuries past to the present day. The palace itself became, in its own way, one of the precious documents of that archive. Undamaged in the earthquake, it steadfastly awaited out time, to prove to us all what lavish palaces Dubrovnik had, powerful and wealthy, in the time before its catastrophes.
The square before Sponza Palace is the site of the opening ceremonies of the Dubrovnik Summer Festival. From the terrace above the veranda before the Sponza Palace, actors dressed in the costumes of the Rector and the Dubrovnik aristocrats evoke the past of the cultural manifestations and the freedom of the Dubrovnik Republic.
All of the history of the old Dubrovnik passed through this lovely, though not luxurious palace. Moderation and simplicity, ever present in the life of old Dubrovnik, was affirmed in this building of great significance to the Republic. This simple, harmonic, Gothic- Renaissance palace appears to be too modest for the once wealthy Dubrovnik Republic. This however, it not surprising, as this measure of harmony without excessive lavishness was consistently present in all the spheres of life in old Dubrovnik. Like the Republic itself, this building experienced a stormy history, it was destroyed in gunpowder explosions several times and shaken on several occasions by earthquakes, however, we still stand today before its lovely façade and admire the harmony of ambience and stone, and all the artists who gave it, in its simplicity, this luxurious glow of peaceful beauty. It leaves quite an impression, and has kept alive the spirit of the past so strongly that the visitor is instantly and powerfully enveloped in the atmosphere of centuries gone past, such that he is almost surprised to not come across the Rector accompanied by the members of the Small Council. The Dubrovnik Rector lived in the palace for the duration of his one month mandate (without his family). He was permitted to leave the palace only on official business, otherwise leaving the palace was forbidden. In addition to his many state tasks, a special ceremony was held every evening in which he accepted the keys to the city gates which he was responsible for overnight, so that no one could enter into the town through the night. In the morning, a similar ceremony was held in which he returned the keys. And that was the way it was for centuries, until the fall of the Republic. The Rector’s Palace was also the seat of the Small Council, there were halls for official receptions and audiences, it was the seat of the Republic administration, there was an armoury, gunpowder warehouse, sentry post and a dungeon. According to the Dubrovnik chronicles, earlier there was a smaller citadel on this spot, but it was completely destroyed in a gunpowder explosion in 1435. The builder Onofrio di Giordana della Cava from Naples, who was then building the Dubrovnik waterline, was hired by the Dubrovnik authorities to construct a new Rector’s Palace where the ruins of the old one stood. He built the new palace in the middle of the 15th century. However, soon afterwards, another gunpowder explosion in 1463 again seriously damaged the palace, especially its western facade. The palace was repaired with an addition of the Renaissance style under the supervision of Florence builder Salvio de Michele, in cooperation with a number of local builders. After the palace was again damaged in the 1667 earthquake, the atrium was partially reconstructed with Baroque additions. In this way, as the result of unavoidable events, the palace is a symbiosis of all three styles: the basic Gothic palace, with later reconstructions in the Renaissance and Baroque styles, all together forming one harmonic and lovely entity. The western, entrance wall of the palace, with its arcade and arches, with its beautifully carved capitals, exceptionally decorative portal and other details appears lavish. The palace atrium is simply a harmonic space, with rows of columns embellished with its Corinthian capitals, galleries, a beautiful Baroque staircase and exceptional acoustics is today one of the most impressive ambient for chamber concerts as part of the Dubrovnik Summer Festival. The atrium is ornamented with a small fountain from the 15th century and the bust of one of the most deserved sons of Dubrovnik, the sailor Miho Pracat. This humble monument, erected on a decision of the Republic in 1638, is the work of Italian sculptor Piero Paolo Giacometti. It is a great and the only recognition of its kind, granted by the Republic to an ordinary citizen throughout its entire long history.
After the fall of the Dubrovnik Republic, the palace was looted by both occupational forces, and valuable items of Dubrovnik’s cultural heritage, carefully collected over the centuries, taken away. The palace was also damaged by earthquakes and fires. Today the Rector’s Palace is home to the cultural – historical wing of the Dubrovnik Museum. The exhibition halls have been set up to provide an autochthonous ambient with the items on display from the previous centuries of the Dubrovnik Republic. In addition to period furniture, there are many portraits of the Dubrovnik aristocrats and important people in Dubrovnik and paintings by the great masters (Carraci, Tintoretto, Giogione, Bordone, Hamzic and others). Also on display is the collection of the coins of old Dubrovnik from the 14th to 19th centuries, original keys to the city gates, seals, crests, a copy of the Dubrovnik Code and the records of the Republic, items from the old pharmacy “Domus Christi” from the 15th century and more.
In between the Rector’s Palace and the city bell tower is the City Council Palace, built in the 14th century. The palace was completely destroyed in a fire in 1816. Its facade was similar to today’s appearance of the Sponza Palace. Later in the same location, the City Hall building was erected in 1882, and this today is the administrative centre of Dubrovnik. Also a part of this building are the Dubrovnik Theatre and the Gradska Kavana (city coffeehouse). It was possible to enter into the Great Council Palace from the Rector’s Palace through an internal doorway. Above this doorway is an inscription, which has been preserved undamaged to the present day, and this inscription is well known for its great wisdom and patriotism: “Obliti privatorum publica curate” (“Forget private affairs, deal with state affairs”).
Next to the main guard building, the city bell tower was constructed in 1444 and is 31 metres in height. Luka Mihocin, the son of an admiral, created the metal plate for the clock, and under it the hands of the moon dial and the two wooden figures which tell the time. The great master, Ivan Rabljanin, maker of Dubrovnik cannons, cast the new bell in 1506. The wooden figures were also replaced with bronze ones, and these are the famed Dubrovnik “greens”, the symbols of passing time. The stability of the bell tower was impacted in the great earthquake, and over time began to lean and was in danger of caving in. In 1929, it was rebuilt according to the original model.
In between the city bell tower and the Sponza Palace is Luza, the old bell tower, built in 1463 and restored in 1952. Its bell was rung to announce the session of the council and as an alarm to warn of danger (fire, etc.). Under Luza are the inner gates to the city which lead from Place (Stradun) to the Ploce Gates and towards the city port.
The Arsenal was situated at the location of today’s Gradska Kavana. It was composed of 4 vaulted sections for the 4 galleys that protected the town. The state defence galleys were built, guarded and repaired here. It was established very early, perhaps already by the 8th century. During its long existence, it was adapted many times, until it finally received its current appearance as the favourite coffeehouse for the people of Dubrovnik.
Opposite the Church of Holy Salvation, next to the Pile Gates, is the magnificent fountain built by Onofrio della Cava. The fountain was greatly damaged in the earthquake and its beauty and functionality impaired. It was erected as a celebration of the completion of the new waterworks in 1438, which thus supplied the city with water from the Dubrovnik River, 12 kilometres away.
This fountain, with the beauty of its architecture and the gurgling of its clean water, was intended to preserve the memory of this significant technical and important feat. As a favourite meeting place for the city’s youth, it entered into the decor, along with the Small Onofrio Fountain, in the Renaissance comedy “Novela od Stanca” by Marin Drzic, the greatest Dubrovnik comedy writer.
Between the Sponza Palace and the Church of St. Blaise (Vlaho) is a stone column with the figure of a medieval warrior in arms bearing a sword and shield, carved into the column. It was carved by domestic master Antun Dubrovcanin in 1418. The statue is a symbol of the freedom of Dubrovnik and the flag of the Republic always flies upon this column during ceremonies, while government proclamations and announcements were read to the people from the column’s pedestal. The legend of how this column came to be is tied to the legend of the legendary hero Orlando (Rolando) who – according to the legend – helped to liberate Dubrovnik from the dangerous sieges of Arab pirates in the 8th century, and the citizens erected this column in his honour. Today, a ceremony before Orlando and the raising of the “Libertas” flag on the column marks the opening of the Dubrovnik Summer Festival every year.
Poljana Paska Milićevića 1
Cultural History Museum
Pred dvorom 3
Od Rupa 3
Tvrđava sv. Ivana
Museum of Contemporary History
Poljana Paska Miličevića 1
Museum of Modern Art
Frana Supila 23
House of Marin Drzic
Široka ulica 7
Steets and Places
The famed Dubrovnik Stradun, or its official name Place, is the favourite walking area for all the people of Dubrovnik, especially the young, and for tourists from all over the globe. It would be a shame to pass up a walk along Stradun, as this would mean missing an unforgettable experience in the city. It was constructed after the great earthquake of 1667 in the accelerated program to reconstruct the city. It was given a placid and wide appearance, both dignified and beautiful in the simplicity of its stone architecture. Prior to the earthquake, Stradun was lined with lovely and luxurious palaces. After the earthquake, the ruined city had to think first about continuing the life and defence of the city, and all the reconstruction projects were focused primarily to those goals. All of the houses built along Stradun were built according to the project approved by the Republic Senate. They are all virtually of identical height and bear almost identical facades and similar layouts, as each house had to have several shops on the ground floor. Here the trading spirit of the Republic shines through.
Trsteno is the oldest organized public garden in Dalmatia (1502) and presently the only arboretum in the entire coastal part of Croatia. It is rich in exotic plants like eucalyptus and camphor. Two giant plane trees over 400 years old are unique specimens of the plant in Europe. The garden is adorned by a quaint baroque fountain with figures of Neptune and nymphs.
Good to know
Below you can find links to things that is good to know during your vacation.
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