St. Dominic Church

St. Dominic Church

It has always been a rule in the Dominican Order to build a House of God first and only later to build one for the friars themselves. In accordance with that custom, the Dominicans started building the Church in 1301. It was completed and dedicated to St. Dominic on November 14th 1314. The result was not only the biggest church in the Republic of Dubrovnik but also one of the biggest on the east Adriatic coast (42 m x 14 m). It was built in the Gothic style. Dominican churches usually reflect a special spirituality that emphasises the essential and discards all inessential external and internal ornamentation that detract from the concept of simplicity and functionality. It is a one nave spacious building (an ‘economic cathedral’) with a pentagonal apse separated from the nave by three high Gothic arches. The interior of the church was arranged in the traditional style of the Order of Preachers. Ideally, the church must be designed as a whole in which everything leads the eye and the spirit to the central point, the main altar (sacrifice) and the pulpit (the Word). In medieval times, the churches of mendicant orders were usually divided into two parts: the upper part was for men and friars and the lower for women. The southern side, from the apse to the side door, was enclosed on three sides. Here there were the choir stalls with 55 seats. On the same level but on the west side, there was a pulpit for reading and singing the Gospels. In the big earthquake of April 6th 1667, both the city and the church suffered great damage. The church lost its roof and part of its southern wall, and the Gothic portal and choir were seriously damaged. Many valuable items were lost. The renovation was carried out in the Baroque style. Wide windows replaced the high and narrow Gothic ones, but some important Gothic elements were preserved: the oldest part of the pentagonal apse and the triumphal arch above the main sanctuary. The two semi-circular late Gothic-Renaissance chapels were also preserved.

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