Located in the square, Poljana Ruđera Boškovića, is the Church of St Ignatius. Bishop Beccadelli asked the newly founded Jesuit society in Dubrovnik to establish a college in 1555. It was not until 1647 that the possibility to start planning came into being with the legacy of the Jesuit Marin Gundulic. The Jesuit rector Gianbattista Canali prepared plans in 1653 in order to build the church and college. The Jesuit architect and painter Ignazio Pozzo was hired for the purpose of working on the church project and work started in 1699 and completed in 1703. The church of St.Ignatius was completed in 1725 and opened for worship in 1729. Its monumental Baroque front is akin to the features of Dubrovnik cathedral.
One of the most beautiful and strongest fort systems in the Mediterranean, the intact city walls encircle the historic city of Dubrovnik for 1940 metres. The walls consist of a series of forts, bastions, casemates, towers and detached forts. Although construction of the first fort started in the 8th century, the walls were mostly built during the 15th and 16th centuries.
The historical figure of Sv Vlaho (St Blaise) set in the walls over the main entrance into town. Pile Gate is approached over a wooden drawbridge on chains. The gate was constructed in 1537 with a Renaissance arch with the protector of the city (St Blaise) displayed in a richly decorated niche.
The main entrance (Pile Gate) leads onto the Old City’s main thoroughfare – Placa Stradun. The Placa is the main promenade and gathering place popular for feasts and processions.
Within the city walls lies the Arsenal in the Old Port. The three symmetrical vaults would be sealed by brick during the time of the Republic to avoid detection of the ship building which took place inside.
In the east part of the city and close to the walls is the large architectural complex of the Dominican monastery. It is a major treasury of cultural and art heritage in Dubrovnik. In its library are numerous illuminated manuscripts and a rich archive with precious documents. The monastery and church buildings were completed in the 14th century although the Dominicans established their monastery in 1225. The church is one of the largest Gothic buildings on the east Adriatic coast. Of a simple architectural design featuring a hall with a pentagonal Gothic apse which is separated from the central area by three high openings with Gothic arches. The Monastery complex acquired its final shape in the 15th century when the vestry, the chapter house and the cloister were added.
The beautiful porches of the cloister were built between 1456 and 1483 by local builders. The arches of the cloister are closed by Gothic and Renaissance triforas. In the middle of the courtyard is a richly decorated cistern crown.
The interior is rich in stone church furniture, a pulpit , gravestones and Renaissance niches.
The large complex of the Franciscan monastery (Friars Minor) is located at the very beginning of the Placa and to the left of the Pile Gate. Spreading north along the walls as far as the tower Minceta, the lateral facade of the monastery church runs along the principle street of Dubrovnik. The monastery building was started in 1317. Some parts were destroyed and rebuilt several times. The large Franciscan church which was one of the richest in Dubrovnik at the time, was destroyed in the 1667 earthquake. The portal on the south wall is the only element of the former building which has been preserved.
The portal is believed to have been moved from the front to the lateral wall during the course of the 17th century restoration. It was the most monumental portal in Dubrovnik, according to the contract of 1498, and was carved in the local workshop owned by the brothers Leonard and Petar Petrovic. The figures of St.Jerome and St.John the Baptist are set above the door-posts with the Pietr in relief is represented in the central Gothic lunette. Above the lunette is the figure of the Father Creator.
The cloister was built by master Mihoje Brajkov of Bar in 1360. Framed by a colonnade of double hexaphoras with each having a completely different capital.
The Franciscan cloister is of late Romanesque design and considered one of the most valuable creations on the Croatian shores of the Adriatic.
In 1317 a pharmacy was founded in the monastery, the third oldest in the world and continues to function today. The monastery owns one of the richest libraries in Croatia, famous all over the world for its inventory. The collection has over 20,000 books, over 1200 of which are old manuscripts and 7 books of old church corals.
Placa is derived from the Greek and Latin Platea which we translate as “street”. The present shape of the Placa was as a result of the earthquake of 1667 when Dubrovnik was rebuilt hastily after destruction and fires. The unified construction of two rows of stone houses, of equal height with similar fronts and similar interior arrangement, and built in the Baroque style now form the appearance of the Placa. The Senate of the Republic ruled that every house should have space for several shops on the ground floor. Placa is the main open urban area in Dubrovnik and favoured as a gathering place and promenade. It is the main business street of the old city centre and popular with processions and feasts. The street divides the old city into northern and southern halves and is the shortest route between the western and eastern gates. It was created at the end of the 11th century.
In the western end of the Placa, close to the Pile Gate, the street widens into Paskoja Milicevica Square where the Franciscan Monastery is located. At the opposite, eastern end the Placa widens into Luza square. This square was formerly used as a market place. A great number of important administrative and sacral buildings are situated around the square such as the Baroque church of St Blasius, the patron saint of Dubrovnik, Little Onofrio’s Fountain, Sponza Palace and the Mint. The main festivities take place on Luza square including the feast of St Blasius and the opening ceremony of the summer festival.
Built in 1444, the Bell Tower with clock is right in the axis of the Placa. Standing 31 metres high, it is one of the symbols of the free city state. It was built by the local masters Grubacevic, Utisenovic and Radoncic. Prior to its construction, the clock was on the Rector’s Palace. The coloured brass face of the new clock with the hand showing the phases of the moon and the two human figures which strike the bell, were made by Luka, son of admiral Miho Zugrovic. A new plate with ciphers was made at a later date by the painter MAtko Juncic. The wooden figures were replaced by horses. In 1509, the noted bell-founder Ivan of Rab cast another bell with an epigraph by Ilija Lampridije Crijevic. Sadly hit by an earthquake and losing its stability, it leaned and became in danger of falling. It was therefore rebuilt in 1929 after the original drawings.
Located at the western end of the Placa and in the middle of a small square close to Pile Gate is the Big Onofrio’s Fountain. It was built in 1438 by the Neapolitan builder Onofrio della Cava who was hired by the Republic to construct the urban aqueduct. Unlike the majority of other Dalmatian cities under Venetian authority who solved the problem of water supply by building large cisterns for rain water, Dubrovnik decided to bring water from a well. Onofrio tapped from the well named Sumet at Rijeka Dubrovacka, 12 kilometres from the city. He built two branches at Konali above the city itself and also built a number of mills
By building the Little Onofrio Fountain and the Big Onofrio Fountain, water was supplied to the city in two public places. The fountain was heavily damaged by the earthquake of 1667 and as a result, the sculptural ornaments which once adorned the Fountain, have been lost.
The original 16 masks in relief are still extant and water jets gush out of their mouths.
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.