DUBROVNIK DIGEST >> OLD TOWN
OLD TOWN >> Rector's Palace
Rector's Palace was the seat of the Rector, who was elected to the post every month so as not to feel the sweetness of power.
During his reign, the Rector did not leave the palace unless statesman and protocol obligations required. Pile Gate and Ploce Gate were drawn every evening and locked with the keys given to the Rector overnight, which he then returned to the people in the morning. In Knezev Dvor there were halls for sessions of the Great and Small Council, an armoury, jail, courthouse and powder magazine which twice exploded, shattering palace, which was eventually rebuilt in the Baroque style.
At the entrance to the Rector's Palace is the inscription: Obliti privatorum publica curate (Forget the private and worry about the public), real proof of how important the state was to Dubrovnik people at that time.
Many former masters worked on the palace, notably, sculptor Petar Martinov whose capital porch depicts the Greek god of medicine Asclepius.
The offenders detained in its brutal prison certainly did not admire the beauty of the Rector's Palace. These cells were cramped, dark, damp, dirty and many overcrowded. According to written records, many prisoners did not see daylight for more than 25 years. The most notorious were the so-called 'secret prisons' where conspirators , the leaders of rebellions and other enemies of the state were incarcerated. Not only were cells cramped and damp, but they were tied with chains whose keys were strictly controlled.
The so called 'sea prisons' were also horrendous where prisoners would be drowned by the incoming tide. Today, these sea prisons do not exist as they were destroyed by gunpowder explosions and the great earthquake.
Interestingly, the highest officials of the Republic of Dubrovnik came the Rector's Palace daily and did not mind the screams of prisoners. The atrium of Rector's Palace is the most acoustic building in Dubrovnik and often hosts concerts of the world's best musicians, so you can only imagine how the screams of prisoners echoed through what was then the most important public building in Dubrovnik .
Despite teh prison being well guarded, there are records of escapees. The most famous being Ilija Dadić who manged to flee five times, securing him the title of Dubrovnik's Monte Christo.
Today the palace is home to a museum where you can view furniture from the time of the Republic and artworks from the 15th to 19th Century.
In the Rector's Palace you can visit the notorious prison, see antique furniture and other useful objects, picturesby native and foreigna rtists, mainly Italian masters, the Republic's numismatic collection, old weapons and objects from the Domus Christi pharmacy in the 15th Century. On the first floor you can see the bedroom and working cabinet of the Dubrovnik Rector.
Information on opening hours and contact details for the museum can be found here.