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St. Blaise Church – Beautiful Dubrovnik – Know it All

Right in the heart of Dubrovnik Old Town, at the end of bustling Stradun street, stands a majestic Baroque – St. Blaise Church (Saint Blaise Church). It’s a symbol of protection, deeply woven into the city’s story and the hearts of Dubrovnik people. The Church is dedicated to Dubrovnik’s patron saint, Saint Blaise of Sebaste, a Christian bishop.

St. Blaise Church, St. Blaise Dubrovnik, Saint Blaise church, Saint Blaise Dubrovnik
St. Blaise church in Dubrovnik old town

Who is Saint Blaise?

Saint Blaise is a big deal in Dubrovnik! People call upon him for healing throat problems and protecting wool workers. Also, he’s one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers. Legend tells a story of Saint Blaise himself saving a boy who was choking on a fishbone – pretty impressive!

Interestingly, Saint Blaise wasn’t always a religious leader. Legend says he came from a noble family and became a bishop in a city called Sebastia after learning all about Christianity.

Even today, people in Dubrovnik keep the tradition of asking Saint Blaise for help with throat problems. People in Dubrovnik perform a special blessing using two candles held against the throat.

This tradition goes way back. According to local history, people in Dubrovnik have celebrated Saint Blaise (also called Sveti Vlaho) as their patron saint since February 3rd, 972. This day is actually his feast day, and he’s also known as Saint Blaž (from the Latin Sanctus Blasius) in other parts of Croatia.

Saint Blaise – the Patron of Dubrovnik

So how did Saint Blaise become Dubrovnik’s protector? There’s a cool legend about that! According to a story from the 1400s, Venice planned to attack Dubrovnik after conquering another area nearby. They wanted to trick the city and attack at night.

Here’s where things get interesting! Saint Blaise appeared in a dream to a priest named Stojko, warning him about the Venetian plan. Thanks to the warning, Dubrovnik defenders prepared their defenses and fought off the attackers, even damaging their ships!

The city even created a special time called the “Freedom of Saint Blaise” so everyone could join the celebration. During this time, even people who had committed crimes or were exiled could come to the city without fear of punishment. This special period lasted for two days before and after Saint Blaise Day, but later got extended to a whole week before and after the holiday!

Realizing their surprise attack failed, the Venetians gave up and sailed away. The people of Dubrovnik saw this as a miracle thanks to Saint Blaise and chose him as their patron saint. Ever since then, Saint Blaise’s Day has been a big celebration for everyone in Dubrovnik.

The Story of Dubrovnik’s St. Blaise Church: From Romanesque to Baroque

The beautiful Baroque Saint Blaise Church we see today wasn’t always there! In the early 18th century, builders constructed the Baroque church on the foundation of an older church. This earlier church, built in the Romanesque style, actually survived a big earthquake in 1667! Unfortunately, it wasn’t so lucky in 1706. On White Sunday, a huge fire started from candles – they burned the wooden interior first and then spread to the entire structure. Only the sacristy, a room for storing sacred items, survived the fire.

Here’s an interesting fact: even though the fire destroyed a lot, there was a miracle! The only object saved from the church’s amazing collection of artwork and religious items was in fact a silver statue of Saint Blaise. According to an inscription on a church plate, this statue was found completely unharmed under the ashes.

This magnificent statue, made of silver and gold plate, is still on display today! It was created in a famous Dubrovnik workshop sometime in the first half of the 15th century and has a place of honor on the main altar of the church.

Rebuilding St. Blaise Church: A Story of Faith and Resilience

After the fire of 1706, Dubrovnik wasted no time rebuilding their beloved Saint Blaise Church. Local builders got to work in 1707, following a design by the famous Venetian architect and sculptor Marino Groppelli. He wasn’t just the architect – he also created the main marble altar himself, along with several statues for the church, including St Peter, John the Baptist, St Blaise, Faith, Hope, and even an angel above the entrance.

Thankfully, many precious art objects from the old church survived the fire and were preserved in the new building.

The new church has a simple layout – one large main room with a dome in the center, a rounded area at the back (apse) with two rooms on either side (sacristies), and a large cross in the middle. There are also two side altars, one dedicated to the Holy Cross (similar to the one in the old church) and another for Saint Lucy. This second altar has some beautiful paintings, including a Madonna and Child, Saint Blaise, and Saint Emigdi (protector from earthquakes).

Speaking of earthquakes, Dubrovnik sits in an area that gets tremors sometimes. Remembering the Great Earthquake of 1667, the people of Dubrovnik added another saint to their list of protectors – Saint Emigdi!
St. Blaise church, Saint Blaise church, St. Blaise, Saint Blaise Dubrovnik, St Blaise Dubrovnik, Dubrovnik's St. Blaise Church,
Orlando’s Column in the front of the St. Blaise Church, Dubrovnik

Walk down the aisles of the church and you’ll see even more treasures – paintings, crucifixes, silver objects, religious clothing, and even some porcelain decorations, mostly from the 1700s. These were all donated when the church was rebuilt.

Sadly, some of Saint Blaise’s relics are now at the Cathedral of Assumption. These special pieces are in beautiful silver frames, some dating back as far as the 11th century!

Even in the 1800s and 1900s, people continued to donate beautiful artwork to the church. A statue of Saint Blaise by the famous Croatian sculptor Ivan Meštrović now stands proudly next to older statues of the saint made in the 1400s.

Light streams through the church in a special way thanks to the beautiful stained-glass windows created by a local artist in the mid-1900s. There are also many paintings of saints on the walls by other Italian artists.

Here’s another interesting fact: There’s a painting in the old sacristy that shows a terrifying earthquake destroying Dubrovnik! In the painting, Saint Blaise kneels and begs for mercy for his city. This powerful image shows the deep connection between the people of Dubrovnik and their patron saint, a bond that continues to this day.

They built him a grand church, put his statue on almost everything in the city, and even put him on the city walls! In return, Saint Blaise has watched over and protected Dubrovnik for centuries.

The war in Croatia didn’t spare Dubrovnik’s St. Blaise Church. Attackers hit it several times, damaging the facade, stairs, entrance, windows, and roof. During a particularly brutal attack, the people of Dubrovnik pleaded with city leaders to uncover a statue of Saint Blaise that had been hidden for protection. They hoped Saint Blaise could bring peace back to their city.

Dubrovnik Old Town Map
The Dubrovnik Old Town Map marks Saint Blaise Church as No 17.

St. Blaise Church Today

Today, the Saint Blaise Church is a big part of Dubrovnik’s culture, especially during the Feast of Saint Blaise on February 3rd. That’s when the whole city comes alive with parades and celebrations in honor of their patron saint. And the best part? You can check out this beautiful church any time, for free. It’s a nice spot to just sit and enjoy the view, especially at night when everything lights up.

Opening Hours24 hours
Admission FeeFree
Distance from Pile Gate1476 meters / 1476 feet
Walking Time from Pile Gate6 minutes
Distance from Ploče Gate300 meters / 984 feet
Walking Time from Ploče Gate4 minutes
Mass Times (Weekdays)5.00 PM (except July & August: 5.30 PM)
Mass Times (Weekends)8.00 AM and 12.00 PM
Saint Blaise Church Opening hours, mass times and distance

Dubrovnik Travel Tips:

  • Saint Blaise Church is open daily 24 hours
  • Location of Saint Blaise Church on Google Map
  • Dress modestly. St. Blaise Church is a holy place, so it’s best to cover your shoulders and knees.
  • Be respectful. Keep your voice down and avoid talking on your phone while inside the church.
  • Take photos, but be mindful. It’s okay to snap some photos, but avoid using flash and be aware of others praying or attending mass.
  • Enjoy the beauty! Take some time to appreciate the architecture, artwork, and peaceful atmosphere.

Don’t miss sights nearby Dubrovnik’s St. Blaise Church

After your visit to St. Blaise Church, head to Luža Square, a treasure trove of sights! Right there, you’ll find the impressive Rector’s Palace, once the seat of government. Don’t miss the bell towers flanking the square – climb one for stunning city views! Nearby is Sponza Palace, a beautiful building that once housed Dubrovnik’s customs office. And right next door is the grand Dubrovnik Cathedral, where you’ll find the treasury with its fascinating collection of relics. Finally, no visit to Dubrovnik is complete without walking along the City Walls – they offer incredible panoramic views and a chance to step back in time!

Must-see Dubrovnik Attractions

Discover More of Dubrovnik

For further exploration of Dubrovnik, check out Dubrovnik comprehensive travel guide, filled with itineraries, activities, and all you need to plan your visit to this historic city.

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