Dubrovnik Tourist Attractions
Nicknamed the Pearl of the Adriatic, Dubrovnik, has a wealth of attractions for visitors. The city's seafront location, coupled with its beautiful and historic old town, is helping Dubrovnik make a come back to its top spot as a destination in the Dalmatia area.
Founded in the 7th century, Dubrovnik has had a series of rulers including Venetians and Hungarians, and even became its own Republic, known as the Republic of Ragusa. The city of Dubrovnik enjoyed its greatest growth in the 15th & 16th centuries, which is reflected in the impressive architecture. The old town has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city is home to Croatia's artistic and intellectual elite and frequent cultural activities are the norm.A siege by the Yugoslav Peoples Army from October 1991 to May 1992 heavily damaged much of the city. Since then, with the help of the Croatian government and UNESCO, much of the damage has been repaired and the buildings updated to withstand earthquakes that are common in the area.Some of the key sights in Dubrovnik are the Cathedral Treasury, the Church of St Blaise, the Rector's Palace, Fort of St John, Sponza Palace, the Dominican Monastery, and the famous Ploce Gate.
Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Treasury
Standing on the site of a 12th century cathedral, the Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a beautiful Baroque building. Designed by Andrea Buffalini of Rome, it has three aisles, three apses, and is splendidly decorated inside. Paintings by Italian and Dalmation artists from the 16-18th Centuries along with the tondo Virgin of the Chair rumored to be by Raphael give the Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin Mary a holy splendor.The Cathedral Treasury holds several important relics of Christianity. The most famous is a small portion of the cross that Jesus is thought to have been crucified upon. Other famous relics of note are the head, leg and arm of St Blaise dating from the 13th Century.The Treasury also has a splendid display of 138 gold and silver reliquaries from around the world that will bedazzle visitors.
The Dominican Monastery has an interesting story concerning its construction. When the construction started in 1315, and the building and complex started to take form, the sheer size of the complex necessitated the movement outwards of the Dubrovnik city walls. Heavily damaged in the 1667 earthquake, the Dominican Monastery was rebuilt to its former glory through the hard work of the brothers and the city dwellers.The architectural highlight of the Dominican Monastery is a late Gothic cloister. Michelozzo di Bartolomeo of Florence designed the cloister in the 15th Century. Fragrant orange trees make the cloister a pleasant place to linger.In the east wing of the Dominican Monastery is a museum. Exhibits include many 15th and 16th Century religious paintings in the style of the Dubrovnik (also known as the Venetian) School. Paintings of note are named: St Blaise, St Mary Magdalene, the Angel Tobias, and the Purchaser. Also on display are interesting items of gold and silver, as well as other relics.
Dubrovnik Rector's Palace
Onofrio de la Cava designed the Rector's Palace in 1435 but it is unlikely the building standing today is quite what the architect had in mind. The architecture of the Rector's Palace is a mix of late Gothic and early Renaissance styles and this is due to an unfortunate series of events. The Rector's Palace was built in the 15th Century but was heavily damaged the first time by a gunpowder explosion, then by a fire and in 1667 the earthquake that leveled most of Dubrovnik heavily damaged the structure.In the summer the pleasant central courtyard hosts classical music performances. Also found in the Rector's Palace is the bust of Miho Pracat, a former rich merchant from the island of Lopud. The upstairs portion of the Rector's Palace holds the city museum that has many interesting exhibits of life during the time of the Republic of Ragusa. Also of note in the city museum's collection of 15,000 pieces are paintings by Veneitan and Dalmation artists.
Fort of St John
Located on the eastern edge of the old town is the Fort of St John. Once a defensive structure for Dubrovnik, the imposing structure of Fort of St John now houses several modern attractions to keep visitors entertained. The upper area of the Fort of St John holds the Maritime Museum of Dubrovnik featuring displays of Dubrovnik's maritime past illustrated through model boats and naval artifacts.The lower area of Fort St John contains the Aquarium of Dubrovnik. Many interesting displays of local and exotic fish provide hours of enjoyment. The Aquarium of Dubrovnik is particularly noted for its collection of sea horses. The local name for Fort St John is Fort of St Ivan and visitors may have to refer to it when speaking to locals. Located at the very top of Fort St John is the Bokar Fort. Designed and built by Michelozzo Michelozzi, the Bokar Fort is circular and is a great spot to glean views out over the city.
Dubrovnik Franciscan Monastery
Not to be confused with the Dominican Monastery, the Franciscan Monastery contains one of the most valuable libraries in Croatia. Also of interest at the Franciscan Monastery is the Pharmacy. Here visitors will get a glimpse into the past by seeing decorated jars with mysterious contents, various measurement devices, along with alembics and mortars. The pharmacy has been in use since the Franciscan Monastery was built in 1317.There is also a museum on the site of the Monastery that contains items of historical interest along with a fine art collection. The Franciscan Monastery took a century to build and was almost completely destroyed in the tragic earthquake of 1667 when most of Dubrovnikc was heavily damaged. The Monastery was rebuilt following the earthquake and appears much the same today as it did when it was originally built.
Dubrovnik Square of the Loggia
The Square of the Loggia is the lifeblood of activity in Dubrovnik. A central gathering point for citizens and visitors alike it features some of Dubrovnik's most famous buildings and public monuments. The Square of the Loggia is located in the north east section of the old town center and features Orlando's column which was built and designed by sculptor Antonio Ragusino. It is easily located in the Square of the Loggia and makes a handy meeting spot.Dating from 1480 is the Loggia of the Bells. These bells were used as an early warning system by the residents of Dubrovnik in times of unrest. Also located on the square is the Church of St Balise which is of interest to visitors for its Baroque façade and the collection of priceless works of art contained within. As well, a clock tower from the 15th Century, the main guard house, and the small fountain of Onofrio can be seen on the square.
Stradun of Dubrovnik
Formerly a swamp, the Stradun of Dubrovnik, is now a place for locals and visitors to gather throughout the day and into the evening. The Stradun of Dubrovnik , with its many cafés and restaurants is a fine spot to rest weary feet after a day of touring the various sites of Dubrovnik. The Stradun of Dubrovnik is 300m / 1984ft long and the white pave stones are limestone, dating back to 1468. The houses that line either side of this street date from after the devastating earthquake of 1667 when most of Dubrovnik was heavily damaged. The homes are of a design that allows for residential living upstairs and business activities on the main level. One particular feature is that the main level door and window are located under the same arch. The Croatian term for this is na koljeno.
The city walls of Dubrovnik are one of the city's best known features. Built in the 10th century and modified in the 13th to 14th centuries the walls, some up to 6m / 19ft thick, provided a solid defense against invaders. The total length of Dubrovnik's city walls is 1949m / 6390ft and they make a great spot for a casual stroll. Tremendous views can be had from Dubrovnik's city walls out over the Adriatic and inwards over the old town center.As part of the city walls of Dubrovnik there are two towers, the Minceta Tower and the Bokar Tower and two forts, the Lovrjenac Fort and the Revelin Fort. The main entrance to the walls is located just to the left of the Pile Gate and an admission is charged.
Big Fountain of Onofrio
The Big Fountain of Onofrio was built in 1438-1444 by the Neapolitan architect Onofrio de la Cava. Of all Dubrovnik's many monuments, this is the most well known. Visitors strolling through and past the Pile gate will find the square which contains the Big Fountain of Onofrio.Originally designed by Onofrio de la Cava with two stories, the Big Fountain of Onofrio lost its second story in the earthquake of 1667 when most of Dubrovnik was heavily damaged. The Big Fountain of Onofrio was part of the city's original water supply system also designed by Onofrio de la Cava to move water from the Dubrovacka river.
The Dubrovnik Pile Gate is the main entrance to which most visitors will enter the Lapad area of Dubrovnik. Formerly surrounded by a moat complete with a drawbridge that was built in 1537, the Dubrovnik Pile Gate is one of two entrances to the Lapad area. The former drawbridge is now a pedestrian walkway and the moat is a pleasant garden.In a niche in the arch of The Dubrovnik Pile Gate stands a statue of St Blaise, carved by the famous Croatian artist Ivan Mestrovic. Located within the ramparts is a door dating back to 1460.
Just behind the Asimov Tower is the Dubrovnik Ploce Gate. Designed in what historians call a double defense system, the Dubrovnik Ploce Gate was quite effective in times of trouble. Located on the northeast corner of the old town center and near a small port area, the Gate dates from the early 14th Century. There is a small port area located nearby and the Dominican Monastery is just around to the left as you enter.Another imposing building located just across the moat from the Dubrovnik Ploce Gate is the Revelin Fort, designed by Tvrdava Revelin in 1580.
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