Dubrovnik Franciscan Monastery - History and Facts | History Hit

Dubrovnik Franciscan Monastery

Dubrovnik, Dubrovnik-Neretva, Croatia

The Dubrovnik Franciscan Monastery is a large complex built from 1317.

Peta Stamper

12 Jun 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Dubrovnik Franciscan Monastery

The Dubrovnik Franciscan Monastery is a large complex built around 1317. Originally located outside the city’s medieval walls, the Dubrovnik Franciscan Monastery was moved to its current location at that time due to the threat of war.

Sadly, a series of natural disasters and wars have meant that little is left of the original 14th century monastery: the main remaining feature its 15th century doorway. The pharmacy at the Dubrovnik Franciscan Monastery is also of historical interest, having been located there since the monastery was founded, making it one of the oldest pharmacies in the world.

Dubrovnik Franciscan Monastery history

The new friary was built in 1317 within Dubrovnik’s walls close to the Pile Gate beside the Holy Saviour Church. The Franciscans arrived in Dubrovnik around 1234 and an earlier friary existed outside the city walls.

However, as ongoing power struggles with Venice threatened, the Franciscans moved inside the protection of the walls and demolished the old friary to prevent its use by any besieging enemies.

Much of the friary was built in the following centuries and it contained 2 cloisters: one built in the Renaissance style with grand arches; the other in the Romanesque and Gothic styles boasting 120 columns.

However, the pharmacy can instead be dated back to 1317. While the rule of the Franciscans was to take care of sick brethren, the pharmacy also served the public, and so was located on the ground floor. It also provided the friars with a steady income.

At one point, the Franciscan church was one of Dubrovnik’s richest churches although it was largely destroyed in the earthquake of 1667. During the Baroque reconstruction of the 17th century, a massive library was added to the monastery. The library and the bell tower were damaged during the 1991 war.

Dubrovnik Franciscan Monastery today

Today, the Dubrovnik Franciscan Monastery provides a beautiful oasis to visitors of the Old Town in Dubrovnik. The Renaissance cloisters are available to wander, enclosing a lush courtyard garden, and you must stop at the pharmacy – one of the oldest functioning pharmacies.

Visitors can also tour the library and museum of the Dubrovnik Franciscan Monastery, which contain a series of treasures including over 1200 valuable old manuscripts and an exhibition of liturgical artefacts, such as a 15th century gilt-silver crucifix and some paintings by the old masters.

Getting to Dubrovnik Franciscan Monastery

Situated at the Placa, Dubrovnik’s main street, you can easily find the monastery on foot via a 5 minute walk from the Vrata od Buze gate. If driving, there is nearby parking at Ploce gate in Petra Kresimira street. If using public transport, bus lines 1A, 1B and 3 will get you to the Old Town entrance.

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