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Dubrovnik: the historic center of Ragusa of Dalmatia

This article is also available in: Italian

The circle of walls of Ragusa (Dubrovnik) still encloses within it one of the most beautiful and best preserved historical centers of the entire Dalmatian coast.

You enter the historic center of Dubrovnik through the monumental Pile Gate. Here we immediately find a square overlooked by the church of St. Savior (Sv. Spas), the Franciscan monastery (Franjevacki Samostan) and the convent of St. Clare (Samostan Sv. Klare). In the center of the square is the monumental Onofrio Fountain, built by Onofrio de la Cava from Salerno between 1438 and 1444. In this area of the city, the Franciscan monastery is worth a visit with an interesting museum of sacred art and pharmaceutical instruments and a beautiful 13th century cloister.


From the square with the fountain begins the main street of the historic center of Ragusa (Dubrovnik), the Stradùn (Placa), this straight street was built over a canal that once separated the city. This street was paved in 1468. The design of the Stradun dates back to the 13th century but a large portion of the buildings facing it were destroyed in the 1667 earthquake so that the original facades of the buildings (Gothic and Renaissance) were replaced by Baroque facades.


At the opposite end of the Stradùn you arrive in the heart of the ancient Republic of Ragusa, the Loggia square (Luza) overlooked by interesting buildings: the Sponza palace, a building in Gothic and Renaissance style, which was built starting from 1312, and was used initially as a mint and then as a customs house. The clock tower, rebuilt in the 20th century. The Gran Guardia palace, from the 18th century. The church of St Blaise (Sv. Vlaho), in Venetian Baroque style from the 17th century.


Finally, still on the same square is the Palazzo dei Rettori (Rectors’ Palace), seat of the republic of Ragusa, a building built by Onofrio de la Cava from Salerno in 1435, to which the Florentine Michelozzo Michelozzi added a magnificent portico in 1465. Inside, the courtyard is very beautiful, also the work of Onofrio de la Cava. The Rectors’ Palace (Knezev Dvor) now houses the Dubrovnik Museum (Dubrovacki muzej) which narrates the history of the city with paintings, furniture, coins and documents of the ancient republic of Ragusa.


Beyond the Rectors’ Palace is the Cathedral of St. Mary Major (Velika Gospa), in Baroque style, built between 1671 and 1713 by Andrea Buffalini and Paolo Andreotti, and dominated by the dome of 1713. Inside the Latin cross church with three naves, there is the treasure of the Cathedral with numerous gold reliquaries. From here, through a gate, you reach the port, dominated by the fortress of Saint John and the Rivellino.

A short distance from the Cathedral is Piazza delle Erbe (Gunduliceva poljana), where the city market takes place. A little further uphill you reach the Jesuit church of St. Ignatius (Sv. Ignacije), a building completed in 1725, with a beautiful staircase from 1738.


From Sponza Palace, continuing towards Ploce Gate, you arrive at the beautiful complex of the Dominican monastery (Dominikanski samostan). This is a building originally from the 14th century and rebuilt after the 1667 earthquake, rich in works of art and home to the Dominican Museum (Muzej dominikanskog samostan), which houses goldsmith’s works, paintings, sacred art objects. The monastery houses the church of St. Dominic, with a 13th-century portal, the chapel of St. Sebastian and a beautiful 15th-century Gothic cloister by the Florentine Maso di Bartolomeo.

Finally, to end the tour in the historic center of Dubrovnik, it is interesting to take a walk in the Pustijerna district located, still in the historic center, close to the southern walls. This district is full of narrow streets and suggestive views. In this area of the city there is also the building of the Rupe, built as a granary between 1542-1590, it has 15 large wells dug into the rock. The Rupe now houses a museum with tools of daily life and archaeological remains.

To finish or start an itinerary in the historic center of Dubrovnik, a tour of the city walls is one of the must-do things.


This article is also available in: Italian

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