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Dubrovnik, stone alchemy

Monday 25 june 2018

The three-sided sea-rock bluff welcomes the fort of Lovrijenac, a symbol of Dubrovnik's invincibility for centuries. It is the last sheltered point of the Dalmatian coast and you can breathe in the malia of the hermitages and the ferment of the emporiums

Dubrovnik, stone alchemy

The relationship with memory is urgently required in Dubrovnik to be discovered to retrace the labyrinth of history. Stretched out like a figurehead overlooking the sea, it surprises with incomparable views, narrow streets arranged in an ordered geometric order and squares gathered that welcome churches and palaces. Inside the ring of titanic walls that surround the city - the Gradske Zidine - it seems to be in a fortress that nature and history push into the water: the dense beauty of the past can subjugate, and it takes very little to imagine the fleet of this ancient maritime republic that with its five hundred ships sailed in the Adriatic. Beyond the walls, the Adriatic laps against the rock while in the harbor it still seems to see the huts, the ancient Dubrovnik ships that once contributed to the fortunes of the powerful local families. The symbol of the city is the fortress of Lovrijenac, for centuries an icon of Dubrovnik's invincibility: the engraving "Not good pro toto libertas venditur auro" stands out on its stone for seven hundred years, freedom is not sold for all the treasures of the world .

The ancient Ragusa intrigues with its historical center - since 1979 in the Unesco heritage -, an art tapestry woven of different styles united by the use of white stone - now similar to ivory for the wear of time -, that captures the light to return it warm and bright: squares, steep cobbled streets, palaces, churches, convents, museums and fountains, all made of the same light-colored stone. An open-air museum crossed by the Stradun, the long course that divides the historical center in half, while the Gradske Zidine, meanwhile, its glorious and untouched walls, surround the city enclosed like a chest overlooking the water: a spectacular system fortified - among the most conserved in the whole of the Mediterranean -, erected starting from the tenth century, almost two kilometers long and with a height that in some places reaches 25 meters. Vrata Pile represents the entrance to Dubrovnik from the north: a stone bridge dominates the ditch that surrounds the walls and in front of the entrance a drawbridge with chains leads to the historic center. And in the amalgam of elements of medieval and renaissance architecture of ancient Ragusa, you can discover the history of the city through its icons, such as the Franciscan convent with the cloister and the old pharmacy - in operation since 1391 - and the Gothic Palazzo del Rector hosting the Museum of Dubrovnik and staging, in addition to paintings and relics of the Republic, a curious sequence of antique clocks, almost all stopped at 5.45 am, at the entrance to the city of the Napoleonic troops with relative end of the Republic. Where the Placa widens in Piazza della Loggia, here is the grand parade of the representative buildings: the Clock Tower of 1444, the church of San Biagio - in Italian Baroque style - with the fifteenth-century silver statue of the same name patron saint and, finally, Palazzo Sponza, built in 1312 as the seat of the Mint and then of the Customs, today state archives with over one hundred thousand manuscripts. Between the Clock Tower and Palazzo Sponza an alley leads to the Dominican convent and museum, an architectural masterpiece of the fourteenth century that marks the transition between Gothic and Renaissance in art. Behind the monastery, a bridge from 1499 crosses the moat and leads, beyond the walls, to the sixteenth century strong Revelin, the last defensive work built in Dubrovnik.


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