About the city

Dubrovnik - the city of a unique political and cultural history (the Dubrovnik Republic, the Statute from 1272), of world-famous cultural heritage and beauty, inscribed on the List of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO - is one of the most attractive and famous cities of the Mediterranean.

The fortress Lovrijenac bears the inscription: NON BENE PRO TOTO LIBERTAS VENDIAURO (Freedom is not to be given away for all treasures of this world)...

DUBROVNIK, a town, port and tourist centre of the southern Croatian coast. It lies at the foot of the limestone Srd Mount (412 m), in a valley enclosed to the south-west by the Lapad plateau and a smaller reef with the oldest part of Dubrovnik. The ancient town core was connected with the suburban zone on the other side of the valley by levelling and filling up of a marshy valley between the Gruz Bay in the north and Stari Porto (Old Port) in the south, as well as by the construction of the Placa (Stradun). Stradun thus became the centre of the town and its main street, connecting two opposite town gates: the Ploce Gate in the east and the Pile Gate in the west. Dubrovnik ranks among the sunniest towns of southern Europe, in July it has 12.4 hours of sunshine a day, like Alexandria in Egypt.

Dubrovnik - the city of a unique political and cultural history (the Dubrovnik Republic, the Statute from 1272), of world-famous cultural heritage and beauty, inscribed on the List of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO - is one of the most attractive and famous cities of the Mediterranean.

Apart from its outstanding natural beauties and well-preserved cul-tural and historical heritage, Dubrovnik also offers high-quality visitor opportunities. It is also the city of hotels, of high ecological standards and tourist programs, and is equally attractive in all seasons. Its geographical isolation is compensated by high traffic and communication standards - especially through air traffic and fast hydrofoil boats.

The sightseeing of Dubrovnik and its monuments requires several days. However, already a walk through Stradun, through narrow streets and small squares, monumental ramparts and fortreses, provides enough opportunities to experience the millennial beauty of its shell-shaped urban core, centuries of building, stone-cutting, carving and engraving, the history of the Duke's Palace, libraries, the oldest pharmacy in the south of Europe, etc.

Dubrovnik offers individual choice among numerous museums and galleries, which contain the jewels of Croatian heritage.

The Dubrovnik Museum in the Duke's Palace keeps 15,500 exhibits in its cultural and historical department. A collection of furniture from the 17th-19th century, uniforms of dukes and councillors, aristocratic garments and many other items are exhibited in the authentic halls of the palace. The Maritime Museum (situated in the fortress Sveti Ivan) has a number exhibits on a permanent display, related to the maritime affairs of Dubrovnik and Croatia on the whole, with a particular emphasis on the history of the Dubrovnik Republic.

The museum of the Franciscan monastery keeps all inventories of the old pharmacy, as well as the works of Dubrovnik jewellers, painters and embroiders. The museum of the Dominican monastery exhibits valuable examples of Dubrovnik painting from the 15th and the 16th centuries, as well as sculptures, jewellery, manuscripts, incunabula and notes (music).

The treasury of the Dubrovnik cathedral keeps the relics of St. Blaise, patron of Dubrovnik, and numerous paintings and works of art. The Rupe Ethnographical Museum presents traditional occupations and the rural architecture of the region of Dubrovnik, national costumes and hand-made textiles. Very attractive is also the Aquarium of the Institute of Biology, situated in the fortress Sveti Ivan, comprising interesting marine species.

Dubrovnik has a number of churches, monasteries and hotels scattered all over the town. Its coastal belt is adorned with several marinas, piers and promenades. Because of a magnificent view on the mediaeval Dubrovnik, a walk along the town ramparts is a must for each visitor.

A great number of Dubrovnik restaurants and taverns offer delicious specialities of local and international cuisine. Sports and recreational facilities include playgrounds, courts and requisites for all sports in the sea and on the ground, from tennis and table tennis to sailing and yachting.

Dubrovnik is famous for quality hotels. Most of them are situated on the Lapad peninsula and in the area of Ploce, southeast of the old town.

Dubrovnik is the city of an outstanding cultural and artistic life. The most important event in the cultural life of the city is the Dubrovnik Summer Festival (10th of July - 25th of August), traditionally held since 1950. It is a theatre and classical and folk music festival, since 1956 included in the calendar of world festivals and as such one of the most famous cultural events in the world. Concerts and other performances take place on open stages in the town or in beautiful interiors of the most famous buildings (Duke's Palace, cloisters, churches). The repertoire includes works of Croatian and world classics, performed by the leading personalities from Croatia and abroad, including a number of world-famous actors, directors, conductors, etc. So far several hundreds of them have performed in Dubrovnik.

Very famous are also Dubrovnik carnival festivities, so-called Dubrovnik "karnevo" (local variant of the word "carnival"), held ever since the early Middle Ages, when they were brought from the neighbouring Italy. Another important event is the Feast Day of St. Blaise, also the Day of Dubrovnik (3rd of February). The feast takes place for the whole week, including religious ceremonies, a procession through the town, concerts, sports events, entertainment and carnival programs.

Dubrovnik is the city of the highest historical and cultural value and of an outstanding artistic importance. The town fortifications, ramparts and towers outside the walls were built, reinforced and reconstructed in the period from the 12th to the second half of the 17th century.

Among the towers, the most monumental is the circular tower of Minceta, on the north-western corner of the ramparts. The reinforcement, along the main wall on the mainland side, includes one larger and nine smaller semicircular bastions, and the casemate fortress Bokar, the oldest preserved fortress of that kind in Europe.

The town was also defended from two independent fortresses: Revelin, on the eastern side, built in the period 1539-1551, and Lovrijenac, on the western side, situated at a 46-m high cliff above the sea. According to the chronicles, their construction started in 1050.

Dubrovnik had four town gates, the two of them toward the port and another two (with bascule bridges) toward the mainland. The ramparts around the town have been preserved in their original shape.

Since the ancient times, the centre of public life has been Luza Square. It continues toward the west into the main artery of the town core, the so-called Placa (Stradun). On the northern side of the square is the Sponza Palace, and in the middle of it the Orlando's Column from the 15th century, with a knights's statue, carved in stone. This was the place where all public announcements and proclamations but also public punishments were taking place. The knight's right arm, from fingertips to elbow (carved also on the pedestal of the column) was the official unit of length (ell) of the Dubrovnik Republic.

On the southern side is the Baroque church of St. Blaise (built by Marino Gropelli in 1706-1714); the gold-plated, silver statue of St. Blaise with a scale model of the town from the mid-15th century (on the main altar) and two stone statutes (St. Blaise and St. Jerome).

The eastern side of Luza is enclosed by Lua Zvonara, the Town Belfry and the Main Guard House. The bells from Luza Zvonara (built in 1463) were used to mark the beginning of the council sessions and to call alerts. The construction of the Town Belfry was mentioned in the documents from 1444. The clock with two wooden human figures (so-called "zelenci", "greenies"), striking the hours, was made by Luka, a son of the admiral Miho.

The Main Guard House was built in 1706-1708 by Marino Gropelli. In front of it, partly in the niche, is the so-called Small Onofrio's Fountain, whose figure decorations were made by Petar Martinov from Milan by the end of the first half of the 15th century. Next to it is the Town Hall, built in the Lombardian neo-Renaissance (1863-1864, according to the designs by Antonio Vecchietti). The National Theatre (called Bonda's Theatre) also belongs to the structural complex of that period.

This was also the original location of the buildings of the Upper Council (first mentioned in 1303, extended in 1489, destroyed by a fire in 1817) and the Great Arsenal (first mentioned in 1272, pulled down in the mid-19th c.; a part toward the town port has been preserved).

Next to the Town Hall is the Duke's Palace, in the present form a Gothic-Renaissance structure, built according to the designs by Onofrio della Cava, on the location of a fortified palace from the 12th or 13th century, which was destroyed in a powder explosion in 1435. After another explosion of powder in 1463, the ground-floor portico was restored in Renaissance style by Petar Martinov from Milan. The palace was severely damaged by an earthquake in 1667 and the repairs (until 1739) were done by the constructor Jerolim Skarpa from Korcula. The atrium keeps a bust of Miho Pracat (a work by P. P. Jacometti from 1637), the only monument of the Dubrovnik Republic to any citizen of merit.

Above the gate to the former building of the Upper Council is the inscription: OBLITI PRIVATORUM PUBLICA CURATE (Having forgotten your private concerns, dedicate yourselves to public affairs).

The western side of Drziceva Poljana is enclosed by the monumental front of the Baroque Cathedral, built in the period 1672-1713 on the location of an earlier Romanesque cathedral, which was destroyed by the earthquake in 1667. The design was made by A. Buffalini and the constructors were P. Andreotti, P. A. Bazzi, Father Tommaso Napoli and Ilija Katii, who finally finished the construction. The church keeps the paintings by Padovani, J. Palma the Younger, G. G. Savoldo, Parmigianino, Bordone and other.

On the northern side of Luza Square is the monumental Sponza (Divona, Fondik). It was built in the period 1515-1522, in the transitional style from Gothic to Renaissance. It was used as the customs house (therefore occasionally called Divona), mint, national treasury, bank and fondaco (office for goods evaluation). It was also the seat of Dubrovnik academies during and after the Renaissance.

The front loggia (which today houses the original "Greenies" and the old clock works from the Town Belfry) bears the Latin inscription: FALLERE NOSTRA VETANT ET FALLI PONDERA - MEQUE FONDERO DUM MERCES, PONDERAT IPSE DEUS (Do not cheat or falsify the measures; while I am weighing the goods, God is weighing with me). The Sponza also houses the National Archives of the Dubrovnik Republic (comprising about 2.7 million written pages of various documents, agreements etc. from the 13th c. to the fall of the Republic).

Through St. Dominic Street one reaches the Dominican monastery and its church; the Dominicans came to Dubrovnik in 1225. The construction of the present monastery complex started at the beginning of the 14th century. The monastery cloister has corridors with slender arcades (transition from Gothic to Renaissance); built by local masters according to partly changed designs of Masa di Bartolomeo. The museum keeps valuable exhibits of Dubrovnik goldwork. The collection of paintings comprises all periods since the 14th century (Tizian, Charonton, Lorenzo di Credi, Vasari). The monastery library keeps 217 manuscripts (among them also several illuminated codices), 239 incunabula, 16,000 printed volumes, the charters important for the history of Dubrovnik;

Next to the Gate of Pile is the Franciscan (Friars Minor) monastery with the church. The construction of the monastery started in 1317 in the Romanesque-Gothic transitional style. The oldest preserved part of the whole complex is the cloister, with features of the transitional style. The monastery keeps the utensils (15th-17th c.) of the old monastery pharmacy, that existed as early as 1317. The monastery library comprises more than 30,000 volumes, including 22 incunabula, about 1,500 manuscripts, 15 illuminated chorales, mostly from the 15th and the 16th centuries, as well as numerous works of the ancient local music; an outstanding item is the martyrology from 1541.

On the western extension of the Placa is the Big Onofrio's Fountain, a sixteen-sided container with a cupola, as one of the ending points of the ancient waterworks. The designs for it were made by Onofrio della Cava in 1438 and the construction was finished in 1444; the cupola was made by Petar Martinov from Milan. The fountain was partly damaged by the earthquake in 1667.

The main artery of the old town, the so-called Placa (Stradun), 292 m long, connects the Gate of Pile with the Gate of Ploce; this is also the direction of the main sewer, since the passing of the Regulations on Hygienic Measures in the 13th century. Paved with stone in 1468, the Placa was restored after the earthquake in 1667 (simple Baroque style, according to the suggestions of G. Ceruti from Rome). Some houses have preserved the old type of entrance into the ground-floor shops.

From Luza through the Street between the Gate of Ploce, along the Gate of the Fishmongers and the Dominican church on the right below the town rampart is the pre-Romanesque church ofSt. Luke, mentioned for the first time in 1245.

The road leads through the inner part of the Gate of Ploce (beginning of the 14th c.); above the gate, in a niche, is the statue of the patron saint of Dubrovnik, St. Blaise, the oldest of numerous statues of that kind found in the town.

The stone bridge leads over the town moat to the foot of the fortress Revelin. Its construction began in 1463 according to the designs of A. Ferramolino, but it got its present aspect in 1538. Close to the eastern top of Revelin is the outer part of the Gate of Ploce, the main entrance into the town from the east. The lifting mechanism of the bascule bridge has been preserved. The bascule bridge continues with the stone bridge from 1449.

From Poljana Paskoja Milicevica the way leads through the inner part of the gate and an interspace to the outer part of the Gate of Pile, over the bascule bridge to the square in front of the Gate of Pile.

From here the one-way Put iza Grada (Way behind the Town) leads along the town ramparts. The construction of the fortress Lovrijenac, on a high cliff above the sea, started in 1050 (according to the chronicles); it was mentioned in 1301 and reconstructed on several occasions, i.e. in 1418, 1464 and 1571. At some places the walls are up to 6 m wide. Lovrijenac has been used as one of the most attractive open stages since the very beginning of the Dubrovnik Summer Festival. The fortress bears the inscription: NON BENE PRO TOTO LIBERTAS VENDIAURO (Freedom is not to be given away for all treasures of this world).



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