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Rupe (Ethnographic Museum)
Rupe translates as 'holes' into English which makes more sense when you learn that this building was once the granary of the Dubrovnik Republic. The granary got its name from the deep silos that stored the grain which were carved out of stone, considered a real feat of construction at the time.The holes were built at the end of the 16th Century due to the land in Dubrovnik not being very fertile and a growing population increasing demand on grain.
The holes are 9 metres deep and the walls were plastered to have a very smooth surface and to substantially prevent penetration of moisture that could harm the crop. The constant temperature in the holes was 17.5 degrees Celsius and Dubrovnik was the only European city that stored its grain in underground silos. Overall, there were 15 holes able to take a volume of 1500 tonnes, two of which were never used because there was no need for so much food.
The stored grain in the holes was enough to feed Dubrovnik for a year. They were very careful to always have enough. Seafarers were encouraged to import grain by the abolishing of customs duties, and the population received subsidies for the purchase of grain so that it paid a lower price than the purchase price. These financial incentives and the unique storage facility available meant that famine never hit in Dubrovnik.
Today the building is home to the Ethnographic Museum which spreads over three floors. The basement of the museum is dedicayed to the importance of the stores, while on the first and second floors people can see ethnographic exhibits that are characteristic of Dubrovnik such as traditional clothing, laace and other handmade textiles.
Rupe is worth visiting not just for the exhibits but beacuse of its original architectural appearance. The building was one of a few buildings in Dubrovnik that survived the great earthquake practically unscathed.
You can learn more about the Ethnographic Museum here.