The Rector’s Palace is a historic monument and “one of the most impressive buildings in Dubrovnik”. The cultural museum environment is perfect for displaying Republic of Ragusa artistic and historical heritage.
The museum is one of the most beautiful buildings I’ve seen in Croatia – inside and out! The museum was uncrowded since there are few tourists at this time of year. The amount of information on display was slightly overwhelming, so I need another visit to caption photographs of the paintings.
Constructed in the 12th century, the Palace was rebuilt twice. It was the seat of the Republic’s Rector and included an armory, watch house, and prison.
The architecture represents Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque styles with details from Greek Mythology.
In 1435, a gunpowder explosion from the armory destroyed the original building. Croatian sculptor Juraj Dalmatinac and Italian Masters Michelozzo Michelozzi and Onofrio della Cava rebuilt the Palace. The Venetian-Gothic architecture was designed by Onofrio della Cava with sculptor Michelozzo Michelozzi creating the Museum’s magnificent loggia façade.
Capitals of the stone pillars around the entrance exhibit Greek mythological motifs, flowers, and animals. Other than a fascination for Greece, it’s unknown why the artists carved Greek myths onto the pillars.
The museum is on three levels. The ground floor has archives, a prison dungeon, courtyard, courtrooms, ammunition stores, medieval church art, and a small chapel. The mezzanine features a collection of coins, seals, and watches.
The Palace’s Venetian-Gothic architecture was designed by Italian master builder Onofrio Della Cava.
The rectors lived on the top level where there’s a permanent exhibition of paintings by Italian masters and a portrait of Croatian artist Mihailo Hamzić. Hamzić was a member of the 16th century Dubrovnik Painters School, a center for art in the Mediterranean. The government invited foreign masters to move there to enhance churches and monuments.
Interesting furniture displayed includes a writing desk by Italian Baroque painter and printmaker Luko Giordan. There are displays of everyday items from the 16th and 19th centuries. The Rector’s Rococo bedroom is on the south side.
Notable items include sedan chairs, carriages, magistrates’ robes and wigs, and a carved bookcase by prominent, respected resident Ivo Rudenjak. Some of the clocks displayed are “set at quarter to six, the time in the evening 1806 when Napoleon’s troops entered Dubrovnik”.
Baroque Staircase and Miho Pracat
The baroque staircase in the courtyard was built after the 1667 earthquake, when “the city was almost destroyed and over 5,000 people killed”. A stone version of the Republic’s coat of arms is visible at the base of the staircase.
The center of the staircase features a statue of Miho Pracat, a shipowner from the 16th century revered for his bravery and generosity. It’s the “only statue dedicated to a common citizen built during the Republic”.
After his death, Croatian shipowner Miho Pracat left all his wealth to charity.
During one voyage Pracat broke a pirate siege. This brave act “caught the attention of Charles the Fifth” – ruler of the Holy Roman Empire, Spanish Empire, and the former Duchy of Burgundy. This connection enabled Pracat to “bring back ships loaded with corn to hungry citizens. He allegedly spent a portion of his wealth to free Christians captured by the Ottoman empire”.