|THE HISTORY OF DUBROVNIK.|
The Establishment of Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik was founded in the first half of the 7th century by a group of refugees from Epidaurum (today's Cavtat). They established their settlement at the island and named it Laus. Opposite of that location, at the foot of Srd Mountain, Slavs developed their own settlement under the name of Dubrovnik (named by "Dub" - type of wood). The settlements were separated by a channel which was filled in 12th century, present Placa or Stradun, and since than the two settlements have been united. At that time the city walls started to be built as a protection from different enemies ( Arabs, Venetian, Macedonians, Serbs, etc.).
From its establishment the town was under the protection of the Byzantine Empire that helped Dubrovnik in the wars against Saracens (886.- 887.), Bulgaro-Macedonians (988.), and Serbs (1184.). After the Crusades Dubrovnik came under the sovereignty of Venice (1205.-1358.), and by the Peace Treaty of Zadar in 1358. it became part of the Hungarian-Croatian Kingdom. Having been granted the entire self-government, bound to pay only a tribute to the king and providing assistance with its fleet, Dubrovnik started its life as a free state that reached its peak in the 15th and 16th centuries. It had its currency, rector on the period of one month, Senate, flag, independent legislature and its patron St. Blasius. The golden age of the Dubrovnik Republic was in the 16th century. Venetian Republic declined and Dubrovnik Republic took first role in order on Adriatic. Famous names in literature and poetry are Marin Držic, Ivan Gundulic, Ruder Boškovic in science and there are many more in the arts and culture. In 1526. Dubrovnik acknowledged the supremacy of the Turkish Sultan (annual tribute was paid to the Sultan). A crisis of Mediterranean shipping and especially a catastrophic earthquake on the 6th of April 1667. that killed over 5000 citizens, including the Rector, leveling most of the public buildings, ruined the well-being of the Republic.
With great effort the Republic recovered a bit, but still remained a shadow of the former Republic. In 1806 Dubrovnik surrendered to French forces, as that was the only way to cut a month's long siege by the Russian-Montenegrin fleets (during which 3000 cannon balls fell on the city). The French lifted the Russian-Montenegrin fleets and saved Dubrovnik for the time being. The French army, led by Napoleon, entered Dubrovnik in 1806. In 1808. Marshal Marmot abolished the Dubrovnik Republic (the name was in use from the 15th C.).
At the Congress in Vienna in 1815 Dubrovnik region became a part of Dalmatia and Croatia and it has shares the same political destiny with them ever since.
Following Croatian struggle for independence in 1991. The city itself was totally encircled for eight months, bombarded many times and brutally destroyed particularly on the 6th of December 1991. Today the cultural and historic heritage of Dubrovnik, barbarously damaged in the war, has been mostly restored.
Turks and Venetians made the people from Dubrovnik reconstruct and repair the fortifications. Most of the forts were strengthened, especially the ones towards the mainland, and new forts and bastions before the walls were completed The most recognizable feature of the historic city Dubrovnik, famous all over the world, are the city walls, 1940 meters long and encircling the city. This structure consists of a series of forts, bastions, casemates, towers and detached forts. The walls were built systematically in the difficult times of permanent danger and they have been preserved to the present day.
The history of the fortification goes back to the early Middle-Ages. The whole city was enclosed by walls in the 13th century, except the Dominican monastery, which came under their protection only in the 14th century. The average thickness was 1.5 meters. Attacks from in less then 3 years.
In 1509 the noted bell-founder Ivan of Rab cast another bell with an epigraph by Ilija Lampridije Crijevic. It was also hit by the earthquake, it lost its stability, it leaned and was in danger of falling. Therefore it was rebuilt in 1929 after the original drawings.
The main wall on the land side 4 to 6 meters thick, and the one on the sea 1.5 to 3 meters. Its height reaches 25 meters in some places. The wall on the land side is protected by an additional scarp wall as defence against artillery fire.
The walls are protected at 4 prominent points by strong forts. The strong round Tower Minceta in the North, the port is protected by the detached Fortress Revelin in the East and by the big complex of the Fortress of Saint John in the South-East. The Western entrance to the city is protected by the strong and beautiful tower Bokar. The Western end of the city is also protected from danger from the sea and land by powerful detached Fortress Lovrijenac. The city walls are additionally protected by 2 round towers, 12 forts, 5 bastions and 2 corner towers, while the scarp wall is flanked by one large and 9 small bastions. The whole system was filled with a large number of guns.
Entry from the West was through the fortified and well protected Pile Gate, while the Eastern Ploce Gate was additionally protected by Fortress Revelin. The entry to the port was through 2 gates, the Port Gate and the Fish Market Gate.
THE TOWER MINCETA.
|It's the most prominent point in the defence system toward the land. The name is derived from the name of the owners of the ground 'Mencetic'. It was built in 1319, originally as a strong four-sided fort. It was built by Nicifor Ranjina. After the fall from Constantinople and Bosnia, the Republic invited a famous architect 'Michelozzo di Bartolomeo of Floreence'.|
He reconstructed the tower. Around the earlier built fort he built a new round tower adapted to the new technique of warfare. The walls of the new tower were full 6 meters thick and had a series of protected gun ports.
The tower was completed in 1464, and is the symbol of the unconquerable city of Dubrovnik.
THE FORTRESS OF THE PASSING BELL.
The Southern section of the walls rises over steep cliffs. It was built early in the 16th century according to plans of Paskoje Milicevic. Because of the large number of gun ports it was the focal point of defence between the tower Bokar and the fortress of St. John. It was named after the bell in the nearly church of St. Peter.
THE FORTRESS OF ST. JOHN.
This fortress often called Mulo Tower, is a complex monumental building on the South-Eastern side of the Old City Port, controlling and protecting its entrance. It was build in the middle of the 14th century, but modified several times during the 15th and 16th century. The present appearance dates from the 16th century and it's mainly the work of Paskoje Milicevic. The side towards sea is round and the lower part of the wall is inclined, while the part facing the city has flat vertical walls.
THE FORTRESS REVELIN.
In the period of Turkish danger and the fall of Bosnia, the fortress Revelin was built to the East of the city in 1462, a detached fortress providing additional protection to the land. The name is derived from rivelin, a term in military architecture which refers to work built opposite to the city gate in order to afford better protection from enemy attacks. Danger from Venetians made it necessary to strengthen this vulnerable part of the city fortification. In 1538 approved the senate the drawings of Antonio Ferramolino of the new and stronger Revelin. It became the strongest city fortress, protecting the Eastern approach to the city. One bridge crossing the protective ditch connects it to the Ploce Gate, and another connects it to the Eastern suburb. Revelin became the administration centre of the Republic.
THE TOWER BOKAR.
It was built by Michelozzo of Florence while the city walls were reconstructed. The tower was conceived as the key point in the defence of Pile Gate. It was built as a 2-story casemate fortress, standing in front of the medieval wall face and protruding into space almost with his whole cylindrical volume.
| ||This famous fortress was build upon a rock on 37 meters high. It's of prime importance for the defence of the Western part of Dubrovnik, both against attacks from land and from the sea. The fortress was mentioned in a legend from the 11th century. It was reconstructed several times. The main reconstruction occurred together with other fortresses in the 15th and 16th century. |
Having suffered damage from the earthquake of 1667, Lovrijenac was also repaired in the 17th century. It was defended with 10 large canons. The largest and most famous being Guster (lizard). It never fired a single shot. As it is a dominant fortress whose capture could endanger the City and the Republic, its reconstruction reveals all the wisdom and caution of the administration again. The walls exposed to enemy fire are almost 12 meters thick, but the large wall surface facing the city does not exceed 60 centimetres.
There's a famous inscription above the entrance: non bene pro toto libertas venditur auro what means: freedom is not sold for all the gold in the world.
|The Pile Gate has been the main entrance to the city. (from Greek Pyle, 'Gate')|
The Gate got its present shape in 1537 when the outer tower with a Renaissance arch was built and the statue of St Blasius, the patron saint of Dubrovnik, was set in a richly decorated niche. The approach to the gate is over a stone bridge and a wooden drawbridge, suspended by chains.
It's situated close to the city walls on the South of the inner Pile Gate. It was built in late 13th and early 14th centuries. It was one of the most respectable convents in the republic. A home for foundlings was founded in this convent as early as 1434.
THE CONVENT OF ST. CLARE.
| ||In the middle of a small square close to Pile Gate is the Big Onofrio's fountain. It was built in 1438 by the Napolitan builder Onofrio della Cava who was hired by the Republic to construct the urban aquaduct. While the majority of Dalmatian cities under Venetian authority solved the problem of water supply by building large cistern for rain water, Dubrovnik decided to bring water from the well. Onofrio tapped the well named Sumet at Rijeka Dubrovacka, 12 km away from the city. He built 2 branches at Konali above the city itself. One supplied the workshop in the Pile area and the other turned to the city at the level of the tower Minceta. The water brought to the city was available to the public at 2 places.|
At a large fountain with a water reservoir which he build close to the Western gate, and at a smaller fountain in the East which supplied the market place at Luza square. The Big Onofrio's fountain looks like a replica of a former Romanesque baptistery of the former cathedral in Bunic Square.
The fountain was heavily damaged by the earthquake in 1667 and what we see today is a bare architectural volume whereas the splendid sculptural ornaments are lost forever.
Placa is the main open urban area in Dubrovnik and the most favoured promenade and gathering place. It's the main business street of the old city centre. This widest and most beautiful street divides the old city into Northern and Southern halves. The street was created at the start of the 11th century when the shallow channel separated the islet of Lava and the settlement upon it. It was filled with earth in order to join both sides. Placa is derived from the Greek and Latin Platea (street). The present shape was acquired after the earthquake of 1667.
The Bell Tower with clock was built in 1444 right in the axis of the Placa. It's 31 meters high and together with the Tower Minceta and the Roland's Column is one of the symbols of the free city state. It was built by the local masters Grubacevic, Utisenovic and Radoncic. Prior to the construction of this tower the city clock was on the Rector's Palace. In 1509 the noted bell-founder Ivan of Rab cast another bell with an epigraph by Ilija Lampridije Crijevic. It was also hit by the earthquake, it lost its stability, it leaned and was in danger of falling. Therefore it was rebuilt in 1929 after the original drawings.
THE RECTOR’S PALACE.
|Close to the Town Hall is the Rector's Palace, an outstanding monument of secular architecture not only in Dubrovnik but on the whole Adriatic coast. This Gothic and Renaissance palace owes its present shape to many additions and reconstructions in its stormy history. A defence building stood at the site of the present palace in the early Middle-Ages, and in the Statutes of 1272 it was referred to as a castrum.|
In 1296 it was castellum. The term palatium (palace) occurs in the documents in 1349, and later the term palazzo maggior.
As the documents sometimes specify its parts, it could be deduced that it was a building with corner towers, two wings and a high wall which enclosed the yard. The intent to embellish the building became manifest in the 15th century.
|This was certainly made easier because fires and gunpowder explosions had so seriously damaged the old building and its towers that it had to be rebuilt practically from the foundations. After the fire of 1435 which gutted the building and its towers, the government decided to build a new more beautiful palace. The job was entrusted to Onofrio della Cava. The Rectors palace rose as a two-story Gothic building. Although the arrangement of the figures was Gothic, they show evidence of early Renaissance. |
A gunpowder explosion occurred in the armoury of the palace in 1463 and heavily damaged it. The renewal was entrusted to Michelozzo of Florence. His plans were too much in the style of the Renaissance for the Major Council and the work was continued by other builders.
New damage was caused by the earthquake of 1520. One of the masters who repaired it was Petar Andrijic. The Palace suffered major damage in 1667. The Southern front broke down and was rebuilt in the Baroque style.
ST BLAISE’S CHURCH.
|St. Blasius' church is one of the loveliest of old Dubrovnik. The first, Romanesque building was destroyed in the earthquake; the present building dates from the beginning of the 18th century and replaces the famous old church. Very few traces of the old building remain in the new one; most interesting among them is perha the sculpture of St. Blasius with a model of Dubrovnik in his hand - one of the most valuable sculptures in Dubrovnik today |
The silver effigy of St. Blasius is the only surviving witness of the fire which ravaged his church in the night between May 24 and 2 1706. The ancient statue was moved to the small church of St. Nicholas in Prijeko, and after the Saint's own church was reconstructed returned there by a Senate decree in 1715. An inscription was added stating that "all other statues of gold, silver or brass were melted in the fire. The Saint's effigy alone was preserved by a miracle and survived the fire unharmed."
|Franciscan Monastery is built in the transitional Romanesque-Gothic style. The construction started in 1337. In 1667 it was completely destroyed in the Great Earthquake. The door with Pieta at Stradun is the only thing left from the original church after it has been rebuilt. The Cluster of the Franciscan Monastery is considered to be a masterpiece of architecture in Dubrovnik. It was built in Romanesque-Gothic style by the famous Mihoje Brajkov from Bara. The capitals are a true example of Romanesque style, with bestiary motives bringing the spirit of Gothic as well.|
The lofty interior of the monastery (reputed once to have had ceiling paintings by Titian) was reconstructed after the Great Earthquake of 1667.
The Old Pharmacy, located inside the Franciscan monastery, was opened in 1317. It is the third oldest pharmacy in Europe, but the only one still working. The inventories, ceramics, bowls, laboratory equipment and old medical books of the old Pharmacy are kept in the Franciscan Monastery Museum, among other highly valued and priceless objects of Dubrovnik's historic and cultural past.
|This small votive church was built by the decision of the Dubrovnik Senate in 1520. It is situated between the Franciscan monastery and the Pile Gate, just beneath the city walls. It was put up as a token of gratitude, for the salvation of the city in the earthquake that took place in this year. The church remained undamaged even in the earthquake in 1667, and has survived in its original shape up to the present. The local builders from Korcula, the brothers Andrijic, have succeeded in including it into the surrounding space. They have built this fine small church with a decorated facade in the Renaissance style, so Dubrovnik became richer for yet another jewel of its building craft.|
|This Romanesque Baroque style Cathedral is a three-hall building which contains a rich treasury and a line of paintings by top masters. The Cathedral is a cruciform in plan, with the high altar unusually towards the W and a high dome over the crossing. The exterior is decorated with a balustrade enclosing the roofs of the aisles and surmounted by statues of saints.|
The interior is light and spacious and accommodates paintings of old masters such as Titian's large polyptych of the Assumption, Padovanino's four paintings Andrea del Sarto's works, etc. The Cathedral's Treasury is situated in the beautiful baroque chapel designed by Gropelli and painted by Mattei Matejevic.