Top Historic Sights in Dubrovnik, Croatia

Explore the historic highlights of Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik Synagogue

The Old Synagogue in Dubrovnik is the oldest Sefardic synagogue still in use today in the world and the second oldest synagogue in Europe. It is said to have been established in 1352, but gained legal status in the city in 1408. Owned by the local Jewish community, the main floor still functions as a place of worship for Holy days and special occasions, but is now mainly a city museum which hosts numerous Jewish ritu ...
Founded: 1352-1408 | Location: Dubrovnik, Croatia

Old City of Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik is one of the most prominent tourist destinations in the Mediterranean Sea, today listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site. The prosperity of the city was historically based on maritime trade; as the capital of the maritime Republic of Ragusa, it achieved a high level of development, particularly during the 15th and 16th centuries, as it became notable for its wealth and skilled diplomacy. The 'Pearl of the ...
Founded: 7th century | Location: Dubrovnik, Croatia

St. Blaise's Church

The Church of St. Blaise is a Baroque church in Dubrovnik and one of the city"s major sights. Saint Blaise (St. Vlaho), identified by medieval Slavs with the pagan god Veles, is the patron saint of the city of Dubrovnik and formerly the protector of the independent Republic of Ragusa. The church was built in 1715 by the Venetian architect and sculptor Marino Gropelli (1662-1728) on the foundations of the ...
Founded: 1715 | Location: Dubrovnik, Croatia

Sponza Palace

The rectangular Sponza Palace with an inner courtyard was built in a mixed Gothic and Renaissance style between 1516 and 1522 by Paskoje Miličević Mihov. Its name is derived from the Latin word 'spongia', the spot where rainwater was collected. The loggia and sculptures were crafted by the brothers Andrijić and other stonecutters. The palace has served a variety of public functions, including as a custo ...
Founded: 1516-1522 | Location: Dubrovnik, Croatia

Rector's Palace

One of the most significant monuments of profane architecture on the Croatian coast is the Rector"s Palace, former administrative centre of the Dubrovnik Republic. Its style is basically Gothic, with the Renaissance and Baroque reconstructions. In the 15th century the Palace was destroyed twice in gunpowder explosions. Restored by Onofrio della Cava in the late Gothic style after the first explosion in 1435, the Pal ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Dubrovnik, Croatia

Dubrovnik Cathedral

Dubrovnik cathedral was built on the site of several former cathedrals, including 7th, 10th and 11th century buildings, and their 12th century successor in the Romanesque style. The money to build the basilica was partially contributed by the English king Richard the Lion Heart, as a votive for having survived a shipwreck near the island of Lokrum in 1192 on his return from the Third Crusade. This building was larg ...
Founded: 1673-1713 | Location: Dubrovnik, Croatia

Franciscan Monastery

The large complex of the Franciscan monastery is situated at the very beginning of Placa, to the left of the inner Pile Gate, next to the Holy Savior Church. The Franciscan order arrived in Dubrovnik around 1234. The first Franciscan monastery was built in the 13th century in the Pile area on the spot what is today Hotel Hilton Imperial. However as the City was threatened with war, in 1317, decision was made to demolis ...
Founded: 1317 | Location: Dubrovnik, Croatia

Dominican Monastery

Dominican monastery is located at the eastern part of The City, close to the inner Ploce gate where it merges with the City walls. Dominican monastery is one of the most important architectural parts of Dubrovnik and major treasury of cultural and art heritage in Dubrovnik as the museum of the monastery exhibits many paintings, artifacts, jewellery and other items from the rich history of Dubrovnik. The Dominicans establ ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Dubrovnik, Croatia

Fort Bokar

The Fort Bokar, often called Zvjezdan, is considered to be amongst the most beautiful instances of harmonious and functional fortification architecture. Built as a two-story casemate fortress by Michelozzo from 1461 to 1463, while the city walls were being reconstructed, it stands in front of the medieval wall face protruding into space almost with its whole cylindrical volume. It was conceived as the key point in the def ...
Founded: 1461-1463 | Location: Dubrovnik, Croatia

Minčeta Tower

The Minčeta Tower was built by a local builder named Nicifor Ranjina and Italian engineers sent by Pope Pius II in 1463, at the height of the Turkish threat. Originally as a strong four-sided fort, it is the most prominent point in the defensive system towards the land. The tower"s name derives from the name of the Menčetić family, who owned the ground upon which the tower was built. By its height and impress ...
Founded: 1463 | Location: Dubrovnik, Croatia

St. John Fortress

The St. John Fortress is a complex monumental building on the southeastern side of the old city port, controlling and protecting its entrance. The first fort was built in the mid-14th century, but it was modified on several occasions in the course of the 15th and 16th centuries, which can be seen in the triptych made by the painter Nikola Božidarević in the Dominican monastery. The painting shows Saint Blaise, the patro ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Dubrovnik, Croatia

Revelin Fort

Revelin Fort was built outside the city walls and is partially included into the defence complex of the Ploče Gate. The lower part of the fort was built in 1463, in the shape the City model held by St. Blaise on the triptych painted by Nikola Božidarević around 1500. The fort protected both the eastern part of the City from mainland and the entrance to the City Harbour. In 1538 the fort was strengthened and enlarged i ...
Founded: 1463 | Location: Dubrovnik, Croatia

Fort Lovrijenac

Fort Lovrijenac or St. Lawrence Fortress is located outside the western wall of the city of Dubrovnik. Famous for its plays and importance in resisting Venetian rule, it overshadows the two entrances to the city, from the sea and by land. Early in the 11th century the Venetians attempted to build a fort on the same spot where Fort Lovrijenac currently stands. If they had succeeded, they would have kept Dubrovnik unde ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Dubrovnik, Croatia

Lazzarettos

The Lazzarettos is a group of interconnected buildings located 300 meters away from the walls of Dubrovnik that were once used as a quarantine station for the Republic of Ragusa. Republic of Ragusa was an active merchant city-state and was thus in a contact with people and goods from all over the world so it had to introduce preventive health measures to protect its citizens from various epidemics which broke out ...
Founded: 1533 | Location: Dubrovnik, Croatia

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Porta Nigra

The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.

The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.

In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.