The estate of Elvaston was owned by Sir Walter Blount in 1465 with records detailing ownership changing hands right back to the 11th century. In the 16th century, Elvaston came into the ownership of Sir Michael Stanhope and it remained in the family until 1939.
The house was built in 1633 and has undergone several renovations and remodelling in the following centuries. In 1742, Charles Stanhope commissioned the English architect James Wyatt to remodel the house. The designs of Wyatt were executed by Robert Walker between 1815 and 1829 with a new great hall being added to the west and a new wing added to the north-west.
The principle entrance (above) features two lodges with a crenellated wall and central arch. This entrance dates to the early 19th century and is Grade II Listed.
The Grade II* building is constructed of ashlar with stone dressings and details mullioned windows, embattled parapets and stepped angle buttresses. In 1969, Derbyshire County Council acquired Elvaston Castle and opened the estate as a Country Park in 1970.
After almost complete destruction in the earthquake of 1667 the former 12th-14th century Romanesque cathedral, the Cathedral for the Assumption of the Virgin, was built in the late 17th century. Historical records indicate that the former cathedral was a magnificent basilica with a cupola and richly decorated with sculpture. Part of the money to build the church was contributed by King Richard the Lion Heart after he survived a ship wreck near the island of Lokrum in 1192. Foundations of an earlier cathedral were discovered during restoration work in 1981. The architectural features discovered suggest that it was built in the 7th century.
One of the leading intellectuals of Dubrovnik, Stjepan Gradic, was to play an important role in the plans to restore the ruined cathedral. In Rome at the time, Gradic used his influence with his friends to find help for the rebuilding of his native city. His plan was to renew the cathedral in the form of the Roman Baroque and suggested to the Republic that they employ Roman architect Andrea Buffalini of Urbino. Buffalini designed the new cathedral as a Roman Baroque church with three aisles and a cupola. The four high Corinthian columns dominate the main portal. The building of the church began in 1671 and was finished in 1713 by the local architect Ilija Katicic.
The cathedral has several fine late Baroque altars, as above, built in marble. The treasury of Dubrovnik cathedral was one of the richest in the Adriatic coast. The treasury has many reliquaries and church vessels from the 13th to the 18th century.
Between the Pile Gate and the Franciscan Monastery is the Crkva Sv Spasitelja – Church of the Saviour. It was built in 1520 by the order of the senate in gratitude that the city had been spared from destruction in the earthquake which had hit Dubrovnik at that time. The church was built by the architect Peter Andrijic of Korcula and was completed in 1528. It is preserved in its original form having escaped the earthquake of 1667 and is a fine example of Renaissance architecture in Dubrovnik. This church has a nave with a Gothic cross-ribbed vault and the lateral windows are also Gothic with pointed arches.
Above the pedimented entrance is a monumental inscription which testifies to the church being spared in the earthquake. The three leaf semi-circular top indicate its Renaissance design.
The Baroque church of St Blasius, the patron saint of Dubrovnik,was built in 1715 in the place of the former Romanesque church which was consecrated to the same saint. This precious building was badly damaged by the earthquake of 1667 and completely destroyed by fire in May 1706. Based on the model of the Venetian church of St Mauritius, the Venetian architect Marino Gropelli built the present church having been hired by the Senate. The rich Baroque ornament exterior is in contrast with the simple house fronts in Placa.
It is a central building with an oblong cupola in the centre. A broad flight of stairs (above) leads to the entrance of the church which has a large portal rich with ornaments. The interior is richly decorated with magnificent altars built in coloured marble. The high altar has a Gothic statue of St Blasius in gilt silver made in the 15th century by an unknown master of the local school. In addition to its art value, this statue is also a historical document as in its left hand, the saint holds a scale model of Dubrovnik showing the buildings which were later destroyed by earthquake. This was the only statue to survive the fire of 1706 with many gold and silver statues along with church vessels being lost.
Close to the Gate House is the Little Onofrio’s Fountain. After the aqueduct was completed, its builder Onofrio della Cava set two public fountains at the western and eastern ends of the Placa. The small fountain was placed at the eastern end to supply water to the market place which was in Luza Square. Built in 1438, it is a combination of function and decoration. The sculptures were made by Pietro di Martino of Milan. This fountain was used only by Christians during the Middle Ages as water had a religious significance.
The porch of Rector Palace features sculpted capitals rich in ornamentation. They are the work of the 15th century master sculptor Pietro di Martino of Milan.
Detailed figural representations and floral decoration adorn the porch column capitals
At right angles to Placa, many small narrow streets run towards the north with numerous flights of steps ascending steeply to the northern section of the city walls. Running parallel to Placa, a long straight street (Prijeko) cuts across these little streets. The original picturesque outlook is well preserved in this part of the city. Prijeko street is a narrow but straight street and is bounded in the west by the lateral wall of the Franciscan Monastery and in the east the front of the church of St. Nicholas (Sv.Nikole). This little church is one of the oldest churches in Dubrovnik and built in the 11th century. This church of the seamen of Dubrovnik was reconstructed several times and the present day Late Renaissance front dates to the 16th century.
A fabulous example of one of the finest monuments of secular architecture in Dubrovnik is the Rector’s Palace.
This Gothic and Renaissance palace owes its present appearance to many additions and reconstructions throughout its history. A defence building once stood at the site of the present palace in the early Middles Ages. It was referred to in the Statutes of 1272 as castrum. In 1296 it was castellum i.e. fortress.
After the fire of 1435 which gutted the building and its towers, the government decided to build a new, more beautiful, palace. Onofrio della Cava, the master builder who had previously built the aqueduct, was entrusted to build the new palace. He designed a two-storey Gothic building with a pillared porch between two side towers. The beautiful capitals and sculptural ornaments of the palace were made by master Pietro di Martino of Milan.
The Rector’s Palace is home to the History Department of the Museum of Dubrovnik today. In addition to the style furniture, there are numerous portraits and coats of arms of the noblemen, paintings of old masters, coins minted by the Republic, the original keys of the city gates and a number of copies of important state documents.
Located at the end of Place is the well preserved Gothic-Renaissance Sponza Palace. Its name is derived from the word for the spot where rain water was collected Spongia – meaning alluvium. The palace was built between 1516-1522 and housed the mint, the bank, the treasury and the armoury in the time of the Republic. The building was designed by Paskoje Milicevic and is a large rectangular building with an inner courtyard.
The Sponza Palace was not damaged in the earthquake of 1667. The most important cultural institution of Dubrovnik – the Archive, is now housed in Sponza Palace. In the times of the Republic, the archives were kept in the Rector’s Palace.
Almost all documents that cover the period between the 12th century and the fall of the Republic are to be found in Sponza. Such is the wealth of records, it is one of the most important historical archives in the world. The official languages of the documents were Latin and Italian but many are in Croatian,Turkish, Spanish, Russian, New Greek and Arabic.
In the time of the Republic this palace housed the custom office and bonded warehouse. It was often referred to as Divona derived from dogana meaning “customs”. The word ‘dogana’ is above the doorway entrance into the palace and underneath the coat of arms.