Wednesday, December 4, 2013


The main street of Dubrovnik is known as either the Stradun or Placa, depending on whom you ask. It basically bisects the city, and lends itself to a leisurely stroll. Stores and restaurants entice both weary wall-walkers like ourselves and freshly-landed cruisers to stop in for a minute to rest, but more importantly to shop.

A close-up of the bell tower that can be seen in the distance in the picture above. This area reminded me a lot of St. Mark's Square in Venice:

There is a cute little statue of a bellringer up there in the belfry, eternally waiting to do his job:
The nearby Rector's Palace is very Venetian-esque:

1. Near the beginning of this long walkway and just inside the main entrance to the city is the Franciscan monastery (closed the day we were there), which is anchored by the ST. FRANCIS CHURCH.

Always on the lookout for a pieta, one of my favorite sculpture themes, I was intrigued by this rather stiff, unemotional stone carving over one of the doors, topped by a dispassionate God the Father and flanked by St. Jerome on the left holding a model of the church and John the Baptist on the right, no one seeming to care too much about the passion in the center.
 When I enlarged the picture at home, however, I got quite a different image of Mary, her face contorted with sorrow.
This carving, created in 1498 by the Petrovnik Brothers (famous during their day), was one of the few parts of the church (indeed, of the whole city) that survived the massive 1667 earthquake. 

The church was rebuilt after the earthquake and the single-nave interior of the church is an interesting blend of styles, mostly Baroque, but with some more modern touches thrown in.  The view of the front:
Close up of the altar and its Italianate columns
. . . and the organ in the rear:
There are quite a few interesting depictions of the Christ:

This one, with the hand sticking out of the pulpit to hold the cross, is my favorite:
Again, although the statue seems somewhat primitive from afar, a close-up view, even this fuzzy one, shows remarkable details, including a well-defined ribcage and scraped knees.

 Depictions of St. Francis:
2.  THE CHURCH OF THE SAVIOR, built in 1528, is the only church in Dubrovnik that survived that 1667 earthquake.

3. THE CHURCH OF ST. BLAISE is dedicated to Dubrovnik's patron saint, a man who started out as a physician for the body, but eventually became a healer of the soul. In 316 AD, during the time the Romans were killing off all the Christians, Blaise was taken to prison and beheaded. Now every February 3rd, his day, his reliquaries are paraded through the streets of Dubrovnik, including his head, a bone from his throat, and both of his hands.
 We didn't get inside here either, but the outside is full of interesting things to see:
St. Blaise stands atop the church holding a model of Dubrovnik in his left arm:
 View of St. Blaise from the city wall (It is the blue dome on the lower right, with the bell tower on the  left and Dubrovnik Cathedral's black dome in the center rear):

4. The approach to ST. IGNATIUS OF LOYOLA (consecrated in 1725) reminded us a lot of the Spanish Steps in Rome--no surprise since the steps were designed by Roman architect Pietro Passalacqua. Italy's influence can be felt all over Dubrovnik. Built in 1738, these steps were badly damaged during the war with Serbia in 1991, but have been beautifully restored.
The splendid Baroque front makes the trip up the stairs worthwhile, 

St. Ignatius is connected to an old Jesuit University, the Collegium Ragusinum, which now functions as a high school and seminary:

The Jesuit seal atop the doorway is presided over by a guardian angel of sorts:
The interior, modeled after a church by the same name in Rome, is quite stunning. Frescoes behind the main altar depict the life of St. Ignatius:

The ceiling above the apse represents the glory of St. Ignatius:
The carving of Christ standing to the left of the altar:

One of the more unusual things we saw in a church on this trip was this little side chapel with a diorama known as "The Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes."  Added to the church in 1885, it looked rather kitschy and cheap juxtaposed with the church's richly ornate Baroque interior. However, it has the distinction of being one of the oldest such grottoes (a cave-like recess) in Europe:

I love doors, and I especially love the lion knocker on this one. Note the gold nose that has been burnished by millions of caresses:

5. The DUBROVNIK CATHEDRAL, also known as THE ASSUMPTION CATHEDRAL, is the seat of the diocese of Dubrovnik

One "do" and eight "don'ts." That "No ice cream cones" one always gets to me.  I do't have many pictures of the interior, mostly because of that "No photos" image on the top row.
But I just couldn't resist this multi-panel painting by Titian, The Assumption of the Virgin (1552), which adorns the apse. Pardon the fuzziness. That's what happens when you sneak an illicit photo:
I also loved this white-and-bright side altar with the figure in flowing robes just visible above the arch:


  1. I do love Mary's tormented face at St. Francis's Church.

    For some reason, these churches remind me of castles or mansions. Without the religious art, the beautiful colors and lovely dimensions seem more like an elegant home than a church.

    Seriously, no ice cream in churches? Thank goodness the church I go to doesn't have that sign!

  2. Although they have some Venetian influence, it feels like they've tried to gild/cover/decorate every square inch of their churches, which I didn't find in Venice. I am glad you snuck a couple of pictures--adds to the narrative! I look forward to seeing all of these.