The Saint Saviour’s Church, out stands several earthquakes.
When you reach the main pedestrian street “Stradun” walking through the gate of “Pile” in the Old City of Dubrovnik, the first building on the left is Saint Saviour’s Church.
Even though you’ll see the beautiful “Onofrio” fountain on the right side, that dominates this street. It is hard to miss anything more intriguing and beautiful as the Saint Saviour’s Church just across the fountain.
You can clearly see one church that should catch attention of all visitors, although a pretty small church compared to most of the 15 others in the old city. It seems a bit isolated, situated between the city walls and the monumental church of the Franciscan monastery right next to it.
At the first sight, it’s easy to guess that it’s a Renaissance church. It was built around 1520 by Petar Andrijic from the island of “Korcula” near by Dubrovnik. The reason why it was build was a powerful earthquake that took place on 17th of may 1520 around 11 a.m. so the Dubrovnik Small Council decided to built a votive church. The earthquake was so very strong and it made lots of damage to other buildings. It’s a single nave church. Above the very simple and symmetrical portal there is a pediment, and above it there is the votive text saying:
AD AVERTENDAM COELESTEM IRAM IM MAXIMO TERRAE TREMORE HANC SACRAM AEDEM SE.RHA. VOVIT ANNO A CHRISTI NATALI DIE MDXX SUPRA M.XVI CAL. JUN. DAN. RHES. ET DAM.MIN. FACIENDUM CURARUNT ET PE. SEOR.
Above this text there is a beautiful rose-window framed with the nice stone garland. This rose-window gives a special appeal to this rather small church. The church has three-leaf facade, in fact the gable in three-leaf shape, that is a characteristic of the Renaissance churches along the Adriatic coast. There is an interesting story telling that the female aristocrats, whom weren’t used to physical work at all, were transporting the carved stones for its construction. Probably, this was a symbolic gesture, laying their hands down on the stones as a vow so that the earthquake or any other natural catastrophe should never happen again.
Observing the totality of the Old city’s architecture, it’s very clear that there is a small number of the Renaissance buildings that are preserved, so this Saint Saviour’s church is an excellent example of the Renaissance style building in Dubrovnik. A hundred years after the church was built, there was another earthquake in Dubrovnik, on 28th of July 1639. Many buildings were damaged, but not the Saint Saviour’s Church. In 1667, the biggest earthquake in history stroke Dubrovnik again. At that time, the whole city was destroyed, all the houses, palaces, churches and other buildings were pulled down, but only Saint Saviour’s Church survived this catastrophe and became a true symbol of the fact that one small building could survive all bigger earthquakes, while all other sacral and secular buildings were destroyed.
Let us believe that the church survived till today in favour of the aristocrats that helped in its construction. It is hard to imagine that during the French occupation at the beginning of the 19th century the church was transformed to the salt warehouse. After that its sacral function was restored. Today, during the summer, various concerts of classical music and many exhibitions of art paintings take place at Saint Saviour’s Church.
If you find such rich history interesting and plan to visit Dubrovnik, I recommend you read a short UNESCO historical description of Dubrovnik. Searching for accommodation? Stay at a holiday apartment within the Old City walls.