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Historical Churches (Self Guided), Dubrovnik

During the course of history, Dubrovnik’s citizens have had plenty of causes to ask God for help, and have never forgotten to express their gratitude. Hence an array of churches built over the centuries, amid which there are some truly magnificent objects, found in the Old Town. Whether you're a religious person or a history or architecture buff, you will find this self-guided walk around the city's most famous churches equally interesting.
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Historical Churches Map

Guide Name: Historical Churches
Guide Location: Croatia » Dubrovnik (See other walking tours in Dubrovnik)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 0.8 Km or 0.5 Miles
Author: emma
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • St Saviour's Church
  • Franciscan Monastery & Museum
  • Serbian Orthodox Church
  • St Ignatius Church
  • Dubrovnik Cathedral and Treasury
  • St Blaise's Church
  • Dominican Monastery and Museum
1
St Saviour's Church

1) St Saviour's Church

This marvelous old house of worship is a major attraction in the Old Town of Dubrovnik. The building was erected in honor of Jesus Christ, in recognition for the town's deliverance from a great earthquake that struck in the early 1500s. In fact, you can find a monument to that located on the front side of the building. The construction was finished in 1528 led by the famed architect Petar Andrijich.

The overall design of the church is a Gothic cross, with a ribbed vault and one nave. The appearance of the outer walls is also Gothic, even down to the classic pointed windows. A keen observer of architecture will note, however, the bits and pieces of the Renaissance styling in the main building, as well as in some of the trimming.

This church is very important to the city because it is one of the few buildings that had survived the earthquake of 1667, which makes it particularly unique from a historical standpoint.
2
Franciscan Monastery & Museum

2) Franciscan Monastery & Museum (must see)

The Friary of St. Francis of Dubrovnik was formed in 1317. The original structure that used to house this religious order was largely destroyed during the earthquake of 1667, upon which the monks rebuilt their home incorporating more modern styles into the new structure. As a result, just like many other buildings in the area, it shows elements of Baroque and Renaissance architecture. The main component of the building which had survived the earthquake is the old cloister.

Access to the monastery is open from the St. Savior Church. While there, make note of the door that you walk through, as it is one of the oldest surviving pieces of the original building. This piece was added in 1499 and represents a classic style, known as Venetian Gothic.

There is a wonderful little museum located on the grounds, which most people tend to overlook. The museum is open to the public for a small fee, every day, and houses valuable copies of ancient manuscripts and chorales, paintings by unknown masters, plus a 14th-century head relic of St Ursula, and a collection of ex-voto jewelry.

Why You Should Visit:
Well worth a quick visit, particularly the lovely garden/courtyard area (perfect for reflection) and the 700-year-old pharmacy.
There are some lovely murals and pieces of art, lots of objects for photography, and things to learn more about Dubrovnik's history as well.
Although right by the Pile Gate and the main entrance to the Walls, this is an oasis which the large tourist groups happily do not have on their itinerary.

Tip:
While you can enter the cloister garden without a ticket, it is required for the apothecary museum.
Photos are only allowed in the cloister part, if you visit the old pharmacy shop where you can also buy potions made from old recipes!

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9am-6pm (Apr-Oct); 9am-2pm (Nov-Mar)
3
Serbian Orthodox Church

3) Serbian Orthodox Church

The Orthodox Church is a relatively new addition to the town, in terms of the local churches. It was constructed in 1865. The reason for this is that the local Serbians were not allowed to build a formal house of worship within the city limits until just a few years before the construction of the building. After that point, it has remained a house of prayer since. There are not as many members around anymore, as many of the Serbians left the area during the war of 1991.

Anyone of any denomination is allowed to purchase and light votive candles here. The local congregation is happy to share that honor.

Upon entrance, one will be able to see the many icons of Cretan and Byzantine origin here. Just next door, there is also a museum that displays even more of the old icons from the church. Go up to the second floor to see them.

The church is free to visit for anyone who wishes to come. The museum has a nominal entrance fee. The building is open seven days a week.
4
St Ignatius Church

4) St Ignatius Church (must see)

A fine example of an old Jesuit-style Roman Catholic architecture, the Church of St Ignatius of Loyola is located on the southernmost edge of the old part of Dubrovnik. The construction started in 1665 and, after a slight delay during the great earthquake of 1667, was completed in 1725. The designer was Ignazio Pozzo.

Just like many other buildings owned by the Jesuit community, this house of worship was modeled on the Gesu in Rome, which is the main headquarters for the Order. The overall architectural style is Baroque. The square in front of the church – decorated with a beautiful stairway, another classic example of Baroque – is a very popular spot for gatherings in the city.

There is a small college associated with the complex here as well, well worth a look, complete with some noteworthy pieces of art. The fresco paintings here are particularly beautiful. The bell is also the oldest in the town.

Why You Should Visit:
The location at the top of the now-famous Game of Thrones 'shame' steps, the lack of tourists, and the old detailed interior all contribute to a memorable landmark.

Tip:
Try to visit when the mass is on (there's an English mass on Sundays at 11am during the summer – end of March through end of October) as the lights are on and the inside looks spectacular.
You can reach the church either by the Jesuit staircase that offers a wonderful view as you walk up or by climbing gradually through a maze of back streets that spare you the effort of all the steps.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 7am-7pm
5
Dubrovnik Cathedral and Treasury

5) Dubrovnik Cathedral and Treasury

The Dubrovnik Cathedral, otherwise known as the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, is an imposing structure that, over the years, has undergone many drastic changes. The original cathedral of Byzantine style was built in the 6th century, although a church of some sort had been on this site long before that. The entire building was redone in a construction project that had lasted over 100 years, starting from the 12th century, and resulted in a more Romanesque style of the building.

Local legend has it that the change was financed by King Richard the Lionheart after his rescue here during one of the campaigns. Like most buildings in Dubrovnik, the cathedral suffered major damage during the great earthquake of 1667, after which it was rebuilt in a Baroque style.

On the inside, there is a beautiful painting of the assumption of Mary, done by Titian around 1552, along with a copy of Raphael’s “Virgin of the Chair”. The local sacred art collection is also worth a look, as it is typical of the type of work being done here during the 1500s.

Why You Should Visit:
Albeit smaller than expected on the inside, Titian's polyptych, as well as the very unique and simply beautiful Stations of the Cross, really make a visit here worth the while.
At night, the cathedral is lit and becomes a magical place, which keeps its old aspect – there are no restaurants/bars in the area, just people passing and old stones.

The Treasury within the Cathedral displays a wide collection of religious objects, such as bronze and gold vessels, jewelry, as well as 132 relics of the saints dating from the 11th to the 19th centuries. Among these are the priceless head, arms and leg relics of St. Blaise, the patron saint of Dubrovnik, dated between the 11th and 12th centuries, crafted by the city's goldsmiths.

Opening Hours:
Cathedral – Mon-Sat: 8am-5pm; Sun: 11am-5pm (Easter-Oct), Mon-Sat: 9am-12pm / 4-5pm (Nov-Easter)
Treasury – Mon-Sat: 9am-5pm; Sun & Holidays: 11am-5pm (Apr-Oct); Mon-Sat: 10am-12pm / 3-5pm; Sun & Holidays: 11am-12pm / 3-5pm (Nov-Mar)
Sight description based on wikipedia
6
St Blaise's Church

6) St Blaise's Church (must see)

This church is named after the local patron saint of Dubrovnik, St Blaise (Sveti Vlaho) – formerly the protector of the independent Republic of Ragusa – whose relics: both hands and a bone fragment of the face are held inside. The image of the saint is carved in stone on all Dubrovnik's fortresses and the bastion, as well as above all the city gates and on all official seals and coins. A feast in his honor is held each year on February 3rd.

The church was originally built in the 14th century, featuring the then very popular Romanesque style which was prevalent in that period's local architecture. The great earthquake of 1667 damaged the building extensively. It was totally lost to a fire in 1706, following which - in 1714 - the church was remodeled on Sansovino's Venetian church of San Maurizio in a Baroque style.

The centerpiece of the interior is the beautiful golden statue of St. Blaise holding a scale model of the Romanesque church which was destroyed by an earthquake in 1667. Crafted in the 15th century by an unknown local master, the statue stands on the main altar of the church and is the only piece that had survived the fire of 1706.

The church’s front steps provide setting for some of the most important events in the life of the city, including New Year’s Eve and the opening night of the Dubrovnik Summer Festival. There is also a market out front with numerous crafts and food offerings (honey, jams, olive oils, sugared fruit and nuts).

Why You Should Visit:
Unlike a lot of churches, this one is light, bright, less foreboding, but equally pretty and beautiful.

Tip:
It can get quite crowded inside, so go early in the morning or later in the evening, or when the service is on to sit by yourself.
Whenever you go, make sure to check out the beautiful stone carvings above the door.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 8am-12pm / 4:30-7pm; Sun: 7am-1pm
Free admission; open until midnight in August
7
Dominican Monastery and Museum

7) Dominican Monastery and Museum

The Dominican Monastery of Dubrovnik is very old and was established in 1315. Much of its original funding came from the local government. In addition, many local builders volunteered to help the Dominican Order to get established in the city. Sadly, the building sustained great damage during the 1667 earthquake and had to be rebuilt in places.

It is a classic example of a Gothic cloister, adjoined by a working medieval well and an old bell tower that combines various architectural styles, from Romanesque to Baroque. The former is attributed to the famous artist from Milan, named Bonino.

A special treasure of the Dominican monastery is the library with 216 incunabula, numerous illustrated manuscripts, a rich archive with precious manuscripts and documents, plus an extensive art collection. The stairway has a balustrade which leads to the south entrance. There is a statue of St. Dominique, founder of the Dominican Order. Also deserve mentioning are the newer Gothic arch and the statue of Christ.

The monastery campus is an example of one of the first multi-faceted construction projects in the city. Part of it is a cute little museum located off a small passageway behind the Sponza Palace which, sadly, many visitors tend to miss. The museum is dedicated to preserving and displaying religious art from Dubrovnik. The collection includes some remarkably well-preserved paintings, church vessels and triptychs, as well as a reliquary purportedly containing the skull of King Stephen I of Hungary.

A big doorway leads to the Church of St. Dominic. The bell tower, as well as an old medieval well, are also there to see – as parts of the overall complex surrounding the museum.

Why You Should Visit:
If looking to go somewhere peaceful, away from the crowds, this is an excellent place to go.

Tip:
Buy the Dubrovnik one-day ticket that gives you access to several museums, including this monastery.

Opening Hours:
(1 May – 31 October) Daily: 9 am-6 pm; Working hours in winter: 9.00 am – 5.00 pm.

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