Franciscan Apothecary in Dubrovnik

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Franciscan Monastery, Franjevački samostan, Dubrovnik, Croatia

Snuck in between the Holy Saviour Church and the Franciscan Church is a little passageway that leads to the latter’s monastery.  This building also contains what is proudly proclaimed to be the third oldest, still functioning, pharmacy in Europe.  And it’s all very pretty.
The monastery was originally built outside the Ragusan walls in 1235.  In 1317, the city was under attack from the Serbian King, so the Franciscans were ordered to knock down their building and rebuild inside the walls.  Donations for the work were given by the government and local Ragusans and work began by 1319, though it wasn’t until the 1360s that work on the cloisters began according to the design of Mihoje Brajkov.

The Museum

The little museum offers a fascinating glimpse into the collection of the Franciscan monastery as well as giving a brutal reminder of Dubrovnik’s recent history.  You can follow the trajectory of a missile that entered through the outside wall and got lodged in a wall way across the room.  It’s a sobering reminder of the damage the monastery sustained during the Homeland War – their famous library, already wiped out once by the 1667 earthquake, was badly damaged by 51 direct hits.  The bell-tower was also badly damaged.

But the rest of the room is about beauty.  The beauty of manuscripts, paintings and pharmaceutical bottles.  Unfortunately, there was a NO PHOTO rule, which was extremely annoying because of the really interesting range of objects that were on show. However, since there was an American woman shamelessly taking photos in front of the unbothered guard, I did take one picture of the pharmacy display.

The Old Pharmacy in the Franciscan Monastery, Dubrovnik, Croatia

The origins of the pharmacy, which was founded in 1317, was in the treatment of the brothers of the Franciscan order.  They then started treating others and now the pharmacy is still open to visitors, and though you are no longer served by monks, you can sample some old lotions and potions.  I missed out on this because of the queues, but next time!

So In Summary

As a fan of monasteries, I spent a good while just sauntering around the cloisters, enjoying the quiet in peacefully created surroundings.  The little museum was genuinely very interesting, and the range of objects on display gave a good sense of the brotherhood’s collection as well as of their contribution to Ragusan society.

Further Information

The cloisters and museum have a entrance fee.

How To Get There

This map is quite helpful to help navigate yourself there, it’s no. 9:


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