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.
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...