Friday, 14 October 2016


I mentioned the other day, how it seemed that nearly every building within the walls of the old city of Dubrovnik, were either churches, monasteries or in some way connected to the ecclesiastical life of the town. Several of the largest buildings we encountered, were indeed churches.
Legend has it that Richard the Lionheart was returning from the Crusades in 1192 when he was shipwrecked in a storm on Lokrum Island in front of Dubrovnik. In order to thank God for his life, he vowed to build a great church on the spot where his life was saved. When he put his intentions to the Dubrovnik leaders, they convinced him it would be much better to build the church in Dubrovnik instead.
The original, Romanesque Cathedral was destroyed in the 1667 earthquake and the magnificent, domed basilica we see today was finished by 1713 and dedicated to the Assumption of Mary the Virgin. The cathedral sustained damage during the 'Homeland War' when it received at least two direct shell hits. Restoration work is ongoing and inside, some areas were shrouded in tarpaulins.
The interior was very plain, with white walls and very little 'frippery'. There were however, a few areas of high decoration, not least of which was the alter of St John of Nepomuk.
By far the more elaborate of the two churches we looked around, was the church of St. Ignatius. Completed in 1725, this imposing building dominates the sky line of the old town even more than the cathedral.
The church has a single nave, with side chapels and a semicircular divided apse, decorated with magnificent Baroque frescoes depicting scenes from life of St. Ignatius de Loyola, painted by Gaetano Garcia.
The church belfry houses the oldest bell in Dubrovnik, cast in 1355 - though we didn't hear it ringing!
Almost the first thing we saw when we walked through the city gates, was another of the large churches. This time it was the Church of St. Blaise, but this one didn't appear to be open at the time, so we had to make do with a view of the exterior.
The dome of St. Blaise's church didn't quite compete with that of the cathedral.
It seems that wherever there was a space, someone has built a church, chapel, convent or monastery. But it all made for a wonderful view as we continued on our way, sweating, around the walls.
Still more to come...
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