Dubrovnik’s Dominican Monastery and church was built around the same time as the city walls. In contrast to the Franciscan Monastery, the Dominican Monastery looks very much like a fortress and reflects rich Ragusa’s concern for security in an unstable political environment. Nevertheless, the monastery remained an important centre of philosophy and theology from its founding in 1390 right up to the 20th century.
The church of the Dominican monastery was rebuilt several times over the centuries and even was used as an army warehouse during the French occupation in the late 18th century. The south portal is Romanesque and in 1419 was surrounded by a Gothic arch on columns. The base of the bell tower is also Romanesque. On the upper floor are late-Gothic biforae, while the cupola is Baroque. The church has a single-naved interior, and the oldest part is the apse lit by two sparkling stained glass windows. The star attraction of the church is the large painted Gothic crucifix by Paolo Veneziano. There are also works by several Croatian masters including an altarpiece by Ivo Dulcic, a statue of the Madonna and a bas relief by Ivan Mestrovic and a painting by Vlaho Bukovac who was born in nearby Cavtat.
The cloister of the Dominican Monastery is the most beautiful part of the complex. Built in Gothic-Renaissance form, it is the work of local stone masons from the mid-15th century following plans by Maso di Bartolommeo of Florence. When Napoleon occupied Ragusa the church was used to stable horses! Their eating troughs are still visible between the pillars of the cloister.
The art collection of the Dominican friars is now exhibited in the monastery museum. The most famous painting is Titian’s Mary Magdalene with Raphael, Blaise and Tobias and for a panorama of Old Dubrovnik, don’t miss the 17th-century Assumption of the Virgin. Also of interest are the paintings representing Dubrovnik’s flourishing 15th and 16th-century art scene. Notice the altarpiece of Our Lady with Saints from 1514, The Annunciation from the same period and the triptych by Bozidarevic. The Madonna and child are flanked by St Blaise and St Paul in one panel and Thomas Aquinas is represented with a model of the Dominican church in another. The polyptych by Lovro Dobricevic is also striking for its depiction of St Peter the Martyr with a hatchet in his head and a dagger in his shoulder.