As you will see next month, in my final Croatian posting, I wasn’t in the Dubrovnik area with my usual determination to unearth interesting nuggets of history or design. Many of my other city trips have been aided by a GPS app on my phone which enables me to record where the images were taken, and sometimes it even works! That wasn’t the case in Dubrovnik because I wasn’t here for the buildings at all, and so whilst my reflex response to a baroque painting or architectural feature was still to record it, my brain wasn’t so disciplined in recalling where I was at the time.
Consequently I have images shot in a number of churches in Dubrovnik old town but can’t be certain which is which. I can look at them chronologically and therefore have some idea of where I might have been at the time, but the old town is so compact that that is far from infallible so please bear with me.
If, as most visitors do, you enter through the Pile Gate, you’ll pass Onofrio’s fountain on your right as you make for Stradun, the main street. Dominating that space on your left is the Franciscan monastery, whose campanile is one of the tallest structures here. Naturally I went straight into the church but found it lacked impact or imagination. There are some second-rate mouldings, a positively funereal colour scheme, and a dominating pulpit emerging from the walls.
Between these features stretches of plain plaster and velvet drapes were more akin to someone’s living room so I wasn’t in a hurry to linger. My mistake, because elsewhere in the complex is a pharmacy. A pharmacy that has been operating for 700 years. The oldest in Europe. I didn’t see it.
And now things get messy. You might think that given the saint’s importance that the church of St Blaise would be Dubrovnik’s cathedral, but 100m along the same street is another great church and this is the Cathedral of the Assumption. Their proximity and the multiple entrances mean that I can’t be sure where I was when capturing images of the interiors.
Externally there is no doubt for though they are both domed buildings made from the same coloured stone the large golden statue of the town’s patron is easily spotted.
And it would be easy to think that those are major sites, but there are other monastic compounds and if you opt to walk the walls one more great church becomes apparent, high above the central area. This is St Ignatius, the great baroque church built by the Jesuits and completed in the 18th century (though bizarrely it houses the oldest bell in the city which was cast over 350 years earlier).
The Italian influence is apparent in the reliquary statue, grotto, rosaries and frescoes that decorate the interior, the latter being a particularly obvious demonstration of the power and wealth of the church, though it’s the approach that underlines this.
Spanish Steps anyone?