Dubrovnik Dominican Monastery - History and Facts | History Hit

Dubrovnik Dominican Monastery

Dubrovnik, Dubrovnik-Neretva, Croatia

The Dominican Monastery of Dubrovnik is an architectural gem and displays its wealth of art.

Peta Stamper

12 Apr 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Dubrovnik Dominican Monastery

The Dominican Monastery of Dubrovnik is an impressively grand structure built over the course of several centuries and strong enough to have survived largely intact from the earthquake of 1667. Begun in the 14th and completed in the 16th century, Dubrovnik’s Dominican Monastery is made up of a mix of architectural influences and styles.

Dubrovnik Dominican Monastery history

Dubrovnik’s Dominican Friary was founded in 1315 and built with the help of the local government and many local and foreign craftsmen. The Dominicans established their monastery as early as 1225, but building the monastery continued into the 14th century.

Unlike the Franciscan monastery in Dubrovnik, the Dominican monastery was constructed against the city wall to strengthen its vulnerable northeastern section. The fortress reflected the concerns of the prospering Republic of Ragusa at the time over political instability and the need for defence against its rival trading port, Venice.

The monastery was built in a simple architectural design: a hall with a pentagonal Gothic apse separated from the central area by 3 high Gothic arches. The portal on the southern side has certain Romanesque elements, but Bonino of Milan added a pointed Gothic arch in 1419. The interior was elaborately decorated with stone furniture, a grand pulpit, notable gravestones and Renaissance niches.

The monastery gained its final shape in the 15th century when the chapter house, vestry, and the cloister were added. The monastery’s bell tower was also a major landmark in the Old City, begun in the 16th century and completed in the 18th century. During Napoleon‘s occupation of Dubrovnik from 1806, the monastery was used as a stables.

Dubrovnik Dominican Monastery today

Today, the church remains one of the largest Gothic buildings on the east Adriatic coast, open to the public from 9am to 6pm. Visitors to the monastery can walk through the oldest part of the church, the Gothic apse, lit up by stained windows, and see the church’s star attraction: a huge 5 metre tall golden Gothic crucifix.

Those with a keen eye will note of the stone balustrade is walled up at the bottom so that women’s ankles would not be seen as they walked up the church steps. Having viewed the grand interior, step out into the similarly splendid courtyard with its central well-crown and lush vegetation making it a green oasis when it catches the sun.

Getting to Dubrovnik Dominican Monastery

Dubrovnik’s Dominican Friary is easily found on foot, located off a narrow passageway behind the Sponza Palace leading to the Ploce Gate marking Dubrovnik’s Old Town. You can reach the gate via public transport on bus lines 1A, 1B, 3 or 8 from the main bus station and port.

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