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 largely destroyed in the earthquake of 1667. The Senate of Dubrovnik appealed to the Italian architect Andrea Bufalini of Urbino, who sent a model for the new church in Baroque style with a nave, two aisles and a cuppola. Several other Italian architects completed the cathedral over the next three decades. The style of the cathedral is in keeping with the esthetics of Roman Baroque architecture as practiced by Bernini, Carlo Fontana and their 17th century contemporaries. The construction began in 1673. The building was finished in 1713 by the Dubrovnik architect Ilija Katičić.
The portal of the facade is flanked by four Corinthian columns. On top of the central part is a large Baroque window with a triangular gable and a balustrade with statues of saints. The deep niches in the facade contains statues of Saint Blaise (patron saint of Dubrovnik) and Joseph with Child. The lateral sides of the cathedral are rather plain, articulated by pillars and semicircular windows. The side entrances are smaller than the frontal portal.
The building features a high nave, separated by massive columns from the two aisles, three apses and a grand Baroque dome at the intersection of the nave and the transepts. The main altar holds a polyptych by Titian, portraying a version of the Assumption of the Virgin. This painting probably dates from 1552; the side altars hold paintings of Italian and Dalmatian masters of later centuries.
The Cathedral treasury shows clearly the numerous connections Dubrovnik had with the main seaports in the Mediterranean Sea. The treasury holds 182 reliquaries holding relics from the 11th to 18th centuries; from local masters, Byzantium, Venice and the Orient. Its most important object is the gold-plated arm, leg and skull of Saint Blaise (patron saint of Dubrovnik). The head is in the shape of a crown of Byzantine emperors, adorned with precious stones and enameled medals. The treasury holds also a relic of the True Cross. Other outstanding examples in the treasury are a number of church vessels (13th to 18th century), many of them manufactered by local goldsmiths, and a number of valuables, such as the Romanesque-Byzantine icon of Madonna and Child (13th century) and paintings, among others, by Padovanini, Palma il Giovane, Savoldo, Parmigianinoand P. Bordone.References:
Hochosterwitz Castle is considered to be one of Austria's most impressive medieval castles. The rock castle is one of the state's landmarks and a major tourist attraction.
The site was first mentioned in an 860 deed issued by King Louis the German of East Francia, donating several of his properties in the former Principality of Carantania to the Archdiocese of Salzburg. In the 11th century Archbishop Gebhard of Salzburg ceded the castle to the Dukes of Carinthia from the noble House of Sponheim in return for their support during the Investiture Controversy. The Sponheim dukes bestowed the fiefdom upon the family of Osterwitz, who held the hereditary office of the cup-bearer in 1209.
In the 15th century, the last Carinthian cup-bearer, Georg of Osterwitz was captured in a Turkish invasion and died in 1476 in prison without leaving descendants. So after four centuries, on 30 May 1478, the possession of the castle reverted to Emperor Frederick III of Habsburg.
Over the next 30 years, the castle was badly damaged by numerous Turkish campaigns. On 5 October 1509, Emperor Maximilian I handed the castle as a pledge to Matthäus Lang von Wellenburg, then Bishop of Gurk. Bishop Lang undertook a substantial renovation project for the damaged castle.
About 1541, German king Ferdinand I of Habsburg bestowed Hochosterwitz upon the Carinthian governor Christof Khevenhüller. In 1571, Baron George Khevenhüller acquired the citadel by purchase. He fortified to deal with the threat of Turkish invasions of the region, building an armory and 14 gates between 1570 and 1586. Such massive fortification is considered unique in citadel construction.
Since the 16th century, no major changes have been made to Hochosterwitz. It has also remained in the possession of the Khevenhüller family as requested by the original builder, George Khevenhüller. A marble plaque dating from 1576 in the castle yard documents this request.
A specific feature is the access way to the castle passing through a total of 14 gates, which are particularly prominent owing to the castle's situation in the landscape. Tourists are allowed to walk the 620-metre long pathway through the gates up to the castle; each gate has a diagram of the defense mechanism used to seal that particular gate. The castle rooms hold a collection of prehistoric artifacts, paintings, weapons, and armor, including one set of armor 2.4 metres tall, once worn by Burghauptmann Schenk.