Dubrovnik, Croatia: “The Pearl of the Adriatic”
One of the most unique cities on the Adriatic, and known as the “Pearl of the Adriatic”, Dubrovnik has become one of the most popular destinations in Europe. It has a rich history and beautiful vistas as well.
The city was built on maritime trade: in the Middle Ages it became the only city-state in the Adriatic to rival Venice. Dubrovnik became one of the centers of the development of the Croatian language and literature and was home to many notable poets, playwrights, painters, mathematicians, physicists and other scholars.
George Bernard Shaw once said that “those who seek paradise on Earth should come to Dubrovnik and find it”. The crystal-clear water and natural beauty of this walled city have made it a favorite of royalty, presidents and diplomats over the years. Pope John Paul II was a fan of Dubrovnik and was even made an honorary citizen. The city is famous for his visit here back in 2003.
Dubrovnik is an easy city for walking. Stroll down the main street lined with shops or wander off the side streets to find an interesting cafe. You might also want to climb the walls overlooking the city for a breathtaking view. It is a bit of a climb, but there plenty of opportunities to pause along the way: just pretend that you are stopping to admire the view if you are out of shape but don’t want everyone to know it!
During the recent war the city came under blockade and bombardment for 16 months. However, since the city is mostly stone and designed to withstand a siege it remained mostly unscathed except for the red tile roofs which were extensively damaged. These have now all been replaced and there is little to show of the damage inflicted.
Saint Blaise is the patron saint of Dubrovnik, and you will find several places of interest here that are related to him.
About Saint Blaise:
Blaise was a physician and later was made bishop of Sebastia, Armenia. Under emporer Licinius, he was seized and brought to prison. On the way he miraculously cured a boy from fatally choking. After being torn with wool combers’ irons, he was beheaded in 316.
Catholic Churches is Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik, although small in size, hosts several churches. The most famous are:
Saint Ignatius Church: completed in 1725 and patterned after the Chiesa del Gesu in Rome, the mother church of the Jesuit order. It is the largest of the churches in Dubrovnik and is next door to the Jesuit College, founded even earlier in 1647.
The Cathedral: Built in 1713, it was discovered that underneath were the remains of a 7th Century Cathedral. The Treasury contains reliquaries of the head, and the arm of the patron saint of Dubrovnik: Saint Blaise.
The Church of Saint Blaise: Some relics of the saint are kept here and groups who arrange Masses there often receive the Blessing of the Throats with special candles available there. Many churches throughout the world have a blessing of the throats on February 3 as well.
There is also a gift shop in the church where you can purchase items including the special candles used in the Blessings of the Throats.
The Feast Day of Saint Blaise (February 3) has been celebrated here since 897 and begins on Candlemas Day (2 February) with the release of white doves, the symbols of freedom and peace, in front of St Blaise’s Church. At the same time Saint Blaise’s flag is raised on the Column in the center of the city. Then on the actual Feast Day a solemn high Mass is held at the Cathdral and then the relics of St Blaise are carried in procession from the Cathedral to the Church of Saint Blaise.
Along with his relics are the most prized relic of the Cathedral: what is reputed to be the loincloth of Jesus.
Traveling to Dubrovnik:
There are ferries that run from Italy to Dubrovnik and there is also an international airport in Dubrovnik, although most flights here are from Rome or Zagreb, the capital of Croatia.
Dubrovnik has become a popular port for cruise lines, and as a result it may be crowded on days when a ship docks here, but it is still a great city to visit at any time.
Click here for the official Dubrovnik Tourist Board website