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Sponza Palace - Dubrovnik

Sponza Palace - DubrovnikIn the end of Placa (Stradun) street, beside Luža, on the left side of the square centered with Orlando column the monumental Gothic-Renaissance Sponza Palace found its rightful place. Sponza is one of the most beautiful palaces in the City, which has preserved its original form. Built 1516-1522, its form suggests possible appearance of the majority of public and private palaces in Dubrovnik before the earthquake of 1667.

Sponza palace derived it's name from the word for the spot where rainwater was collected (Spongia-”alluvium”) according to the former use of the spot it was built on.

Sponza palace inner courtyardIn the time of the Republic this palace housed the custom office and bonded warehouse, hence it was often referred to as Divona (from dogana - ”customs”).

The Sponza Palace was the seat of a number of state offices. The palace also housed the mint, the bank, the treasury, and the armoury.

This complex palace was designed by protomagister (chief architect) Paskoje Miličević. The project was completed in 1522. It is a large rectangular building with an inner courtyard. An open porch communicates with the square in front; another porch opens on the first floor in front.

The building is a mixture of Gothic and Renaissance styles, which was typical for the conservative Dubrovnik Republic of those times.

The porch and the sculptural ornaments of the building were made after 1516 by the brothers Andrijić, masters from Korčula, and by other less known stone-cutters.

Beltrand Gallicus - SponzaA beautiful medal with Jesus' monogram and 2 angels was carved by the sculptor Beltrand Gallicus on the back wall.

Individual custom bonded warehouses have names of saints inscribed in capital on the arch of the atrium from which a balance was suspended.

The fact that the city measures were true is captured on the inscription on the arch:


(Our weights do not permit cheating or being cheated. When I measure the commodities the Lord measures with me.)

The Sponza Palace was not damaged in the earthquake of 1667 and this fact probably saved the Dubrovnik Republic. Affairs of state could continue notwithstanding heavy destruction.

Members of the Academia dei Concordi founded at the close of 16th century by the group of poets, met in the large hall of the first floor. That was Dubrovnik's first institution of literary life.

Nowadays the Sponza Palace is the home of the most important cultural institution of Dubrovnik - the archive. The archive found its home on the first floor.

Sponza Palace - Dubrovnik Summer FestivalSponza palace has a unique role during the special opening ceremony of the Dubrovnik Summer Festival. Actors inpersonating the Rector and the members of the Council Minor sit on the upper porch of the Sponza palace and greet the actors that have come to the City to entertain and amuse the public with their music shows and theatre plays. After many skill demonstrations by the actors and a long discussion from the side of the council, the ceremony always ends as the Rector grants the actors free access to the City and gives them the keys of the City in order for them to put up their shows and entertain the public.

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Dubrovnik - Did you Know?

1. Michelozzo's City belfry mechanism along with the original Maro and Baro popularly known as zelenci - "the green ones", two bronze statues that used to hit the town's bell on each passing hour, founded by Michele di Giovanni da Fiescole, are exhibited in the Sponza palace. The City bell tower is now manned by two younger zelenci statues which still sound the bell founded in 1509, original work by the world renowned master craftsman Ivan Krstitelj Rabljanin - Johannes Baptista Arbensis de la Tolle.

2. The Sponza palace hosts a memorial room dedicated to defenders killed during the siege of Dubrovnik (1991 --1992).

3. Dubrovnik archive contains 7000 volumes and about 100000 individual scripts. The earliest charter in the archives is from 1022. It is a decree by the pope Benedict VIII in which he grants Dubrovnik the seat of an Archbishop. From 1278 Dubrovnik introduced compulsory registration and filing of all public and private legal documents. Thus, today Dubrovnik archives are an important reference and a rich historical resource.

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