You have not properly seen Dubrovnik unless you have explored its city walls, which encircle the Old Town of the city. These symbols of the city were built in the 1200s and over the centuries up to the 1500s they were modified and strengthened. Today, they are the best preserved of their kind in the world, over a mile in length and as much as 82 feet high. Due to their height, they offer amazing views of Dubrovnik and the sea beyond. Enter the walls beside the Pile Gate and watch Shakespearian plays being performed on the Lovrjenac Fort terrace when the Summer Festival comes to town.
The Rector’s Palace dates back to the late 1400s, when a grand residence was required for the rector of Dubrovnik. He was not allowed to leave the palace during his term of office, lasting one month, unless the senate allowed him to do so. These days, it is a fine museum and plays host to Summer Festival concerts. This Gothic-Renaissance building is intricately decorated with brilliant sculptures – despite being rebuilt a number of times over the centuries one would have to look closely to see that not all sections belong to the original structure.
The remains of the Franciscan Monastery, which dates from the mid 1300s, now stand as a museum. Sadly, much of the ornate church was destroyed in the earthquake of 1667 and today only the portal still stands. Petar and Leonard Andrijic sculpted the breathtaking pietà dating from the late 15th century that stands over the doorway to the Franciscan Monastery. While wandering around the complex you can see the late-Romanesque cloister, amongst Dalmatia’s most beautiful. The garden, with palm and orange trees, is also a very pleasant place to explore.
The Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin stands on the foundations of a basilica from 600 AD. It is thought that the first cathedral, razed by the earthquake of 1667, was a thank you offering by King Richard I of Britain after his life was saved on Lokrum Island. His ship had ran aground off the coast of the island. The second cathedral was completed in 1713, and features beautiful altars – in particular the violet marble altar of Saint John Nepomuk. The relics of Saint Blaise are also housed here. As you walk around, admire the numerous artworks as well as 138 receptacles for relics that mainly date from 1000 AD up to the 1600s.
The Sponza Palace, built in a mixture of Renaissance and Gothic styles, dates back to the 1500s. Over the centuries it has performed a number of different functions. It was built as a customs house, one wing of which housed the state mint. Later it was a state treasury, then a bank. Today it is where one will find the State Archives, housing nearly a millennium of history. It is also home to the Memorial Room of the Defenders of Dubrovnik. In this room are the portraits of the youth who died between 1991 and 1995 .