Between the Town Hall and the Church of St. Blaise on
one side and the Cathedral on the other side the Rector's
Palace, an outstanding monument of secular architecture,
The Rector's palace is a harmonious Gothic and Renaissance
palace with certain Baroque additions. The palace owes
its present shape to many additions and reconstructions
throughout its turbulent history. From time to time it
happened that the palace was destroyed or heavily damaged
by either fires, gunpowder explosions or earthquakes
which required a total or partial reconstruction or repair
of the building. Each architect had it's own view of
how the building should look so nowadays we can enjoy
the unique mixture of styles blended perfectly
across this monumental structure.
A defence building stood at the site of the present palace
in early middle ages and in the statutes of Dubrovnik from
1272 it was referred to as castrum. In 1296 the building
is referred to as castellum. The term palatium - palace
first occurs in the documents in 1349, and the later documents
use the term palazzo maggiore - major palace.
As the document sometimes specify certain parts of the
building, it could be deduced that it was a building
with corner towers, two wings, and the high wall which
enclosed the yard.
After the fire of 1435 which gutted the building and its
towers the government decided to build the new and more
The important job of rebuilding the palace was entrusted
to Onofrio di Giordano della Cava of Naples, master builder
that had been already contracted to build the water supply
system. The water supply system was completed in 1436.
After Onofrio della Cava had completed his project, the
Rector's palace rose as a smart and harmonious two story
gothic building with a pillar porch between two side towers
which were slightly higher.
The column of the porch and the
most beautiful capitals with figural representations, and
sculpture ornaments of the palace
were made by master Pietro di Martino of Milano.
semi capital in the figure of Asclepius built into the
southern angle of the porch and the capital with the scene
of the judgment of the Solomon (now kept inside
the Rector's Palace as an exhibit) and figural
wall brackets on the front porch have survived to the present
Although the arrangement of the figures was gothic
they could show evidence of the early Renaissance spirit.
In 1463 there was a gunpowder explosion of the palace
armoury which heavily damaged the whole structure of the
Rector's palace. The renewal was entrusted to the famous
architect Michelozzo di Bartolomeo Michelozzi of Florence
who was working on the fortification of the City walls.
However, his plans, new and vibrant with Renaissance spirit,
were not according to the taste of the notoriously conservative
major council so the the plans were rejected on May 5 1464.
Michelozzo left Dubrovnik soon after and the work was continued
by other builders.
The arches in the porch were reshaped according to the
principles of the Renaissance with completely new Renaissance
capitals. The modernization of the sculptural decoration
was probably the work of the Florentin master Salvi di
Michele who directed the reconstruction from 1467 on.
main changes of Onofrio's building were made on the western
and southern fronts where the former simple windows were
replaced by a large biforas, 8 on the western front and
3 on the southern front. The biforas were carved by local
masters Radivoj Bogosalić and Nikola Marković while
the relief ornaments and the portal were made by master
Pavko Antoje Bogičević.
In 1520 there was a strong earthquake and the palace suffered
yet another misfortune. One of the masters who has been
working on the repairs was Petar Andrijić of
The Great earthquake of 1667 was no exception and damaged
the palace extensively. The earthquake broke down
the southern front of the palace with biforas. The
wing was rebuilt in Baroque style.
Furthermore, a new
Baroque flight of stairs was built in the atrium of the
palace in place of the old one which was damaged. About
the same time a bell was set up on the first floor of the
atrium. The bell stand is decorated with rich Rococo ornaments.
The stand was connected to a clock mechanism below which
struck the hours.
On the ground floor of the atrium between the two pillars
in the eastern wing the senate had a monument erected in
1638 to Miho Pracat, the citizen of merit.
Pracat was a rich ship owner from Lopud who left his immense
wealth to the Republic for the charitable cause. Because
of this most generous gesture the Republic was indebted
to honour him. The government conferred for thirty years
before they thought up an adequate way to honour him. The
tribute should have been evident, but not too public. Ingenious
solution was to erect a bust in the atrium of the Rector's
palace and this is how Miho Pracat became the only citizen
of Dubrovnik republic with a monument in over a 1000 years
of Dubrovnik's existence. The bust was made by Pietro Giacometti
of Recanati. The monument was also damaged in the great
earthquake of 1667 but was repaired and returned to the
same place in 1731.
The eastern front looking forward towards the harbour
underwent great changes after the earthquake. Originally
representative in form, with the porch and the loggia,
it was never restored to its previous shape.
the Rector's palace is the home to the history department
to museum of Dubrovnik. The majority of the halls have
styled furniture so as to recreate the original atmosphere
of these rooms. In addition to style furniture numerous
portraits and coats of arms of the noble families, paintings
of old masters, coins minted by the Republic, the
original keys of the city gates, and the number of important
state documents are on permanent exhibit in the palace.