The Rector’s Palace is where a Rector of Dubrovnik lived and worked. Rector was a nobleman governing the Republic of Dubrovnik, and a new Rector was elected every month so that one would not become too attached to the power. What do you say about that idea, dear politicians of the world?
Rector during his rule would not leave the palace except for protocol obligations. Doors of the city were locked every night, and the Rector kept the keys during the night and hand it back to people in the morning. In the area of the Rector’s Palace, there were halls for the Grand and Small Councils, armory, Prison, Courtroom and powder magazine – a poor choice because gunpowder exploded not one but two times and almost completely destroyed the palace.
More about this a bit later, let us return to Rector as a political function for a bit more (and to a long struggle to prevent Rectors became overwhelmed with power). To remind Rector of his real duties, at the entrance of Rector’s Palace stands the inscription: Obliti privatorum publica curate (Forget private and worry for the public) – in other words, do not put your selfish interests before interest of entire community. One more interesting lesson for all of our politicians 🙂
Beside Rectors office in his palace was also a brutal jail that is causing chill even to modern visitors. All the cells were cramped, dark, full of moisture and dirt. In such conditions many prisoners spent years and even decades of their punishment. The most notorious were the so-called ‘secret prisons’ where detainees, riot drivers and other state enemies were imprisoned. Not only were they in a cramped and damp cell, but they were also bound with chains whose keys were strictly supervised.
Due to many upgrades and repairs (necessary because of damage caused by earthquakes and catastrophic explosions) today is Rector’s Palace a quite interesting mix of architectural styles, but basically it is a Gothic palace with Renaissance and Baroque reconstructions and elements added. During the 15th century the Palace was hit twice by a gunpowder explosion, and after the first explosion in 1435 it was rebuilt by Onofrio della Cava in the late Gothic style. At that time, the ground plan of the court got today’s scope with the central courtyard and the front porch.
In the second explosion (in the year 1463) the west facade was completely demolished and two famous builders briefly worked on the renovation: Juraj Dalmatinac and Michellozo from Florence. Although Michellozo’s draft was unfortunately rejected (which offended him so much that he immediately left Dubrovnik, leaving unfinished other projects he was currently engaged in) his ideas can still be recognized in the restoration of the facade and the porch.
In the atrium of the Rector’s Palace concerts are being organized, because of the beauty of location and also excellent acoustics. For many years famous Austrian musician Julian Rachlin came to held concerts here, with actor Roger Moore (or should we say James Bond?) always in the front row as a biggest fan. In the atrium there is also a monument of a rich Dubrovnik’s captain Miho Pracat – in fact the only public monument that the Republic of Dubrovnik ever raised to a worthy citizen.
Today, in the Rector’s Palace is you can visit the Cultural and Historical Department of the Dubrovnik Museum with antique furniture and utensils, as well as paintings made by predominantly Italian and local masters. The museum has a numismatic collection of the Dubrovnik Republic, a collection of weapons and objects of the pharmacy “Domus Christi” dating back to 15th century.
Naturally, notorious dungeons can also be seen, while on the first floor visitors are invited to visit the bedroom and the working cabinet of the Dubrovnik Rector.