Stradun is the main street of Dubrovnik, Croatia. It runs through the Old Town, the historic area of the city surrounded by the Walls of Dubrovnik. It is paved with limestone, and has a length of about 300 meters. Stradun was originally a swampy channel that separated Ragusa (the old name of Dubrovnik) from the forest settlement of Dubrava, before it was drained in the 13th century.
Stradun connects the western entrance called «Pile Gate» with the «Ploče Gate» in the east. Both ends are adorned with 15th-century fountains (the so-called Great Onofrio’s Fountain in the west and the Small Onofrio’s Fountain in the east) and bell towers (the Dubrovnik Bell Tower in the east and the bell tower of the Franciscan monastery in the west). Stradun became the main street of the city in the 13th century, and its current appearance was created, for the most part, after the devastating earthquake of 1667, which destroyed most of the buildings in Ragusa. Before the earthquake, the houses on the street were not designed as uniformly as they are today, and most of them had arcades and elaborate decorations.
After the earthquake of 1667 and the great fire that broke out immediately after, the Republic of Ragusa passed a law that specified the design of all future residential buildings built in the city. Due to this, all 17th-century houses on Stradun have the same design: the ground floor always housed a shop, with an entrance from the street with a door and a window in a single frame, under a semicircular arch (during the day the door was closed and the goods were delivered to the customer over the sill, which functioned as a counter), and a warehouse in the back with a separate entrance by an alley.
Stradun is a popular place for tourists and locals alike. It offers many shops, restaurants, cafes, and attractions along its sides. Some of the most important sights on Stradun are:
- The Church of St. Blaise: This baroque church was built in 1715 on the site of an older Romanesque church that was destroyed by fire. It is dedicated to St. Blaise, the patron saint of Dubrovnik, whose statue stands above the main portal.
- The Orlando’s Column: This stone column was erected in 1418 as a symbol of freedom and independence of Ragusa. It features a carved figure of Orlando (or Roland), a legendary knight who fought against invaders in medieval Europe. The column was used as a public podium and a place for official announcements and ceremonies.
- The Sponza Palace: This Gothic-Renaissance palace was built in 1516-1522 as a customs house and a mint. It survived the earthquake of 1667 and is one of the most beautiful buildings in Dubrovnik. It now houses the State Archives and a memorial room for the defenders of Dubrovnik during the Croatian War of Independence.
- The Rector’s Palace: This Gothic-Renaissance palace was built in 1435-1441 as the seat of government and residence of the rector, who was elected for a one-month term by the nobility of Ragusa. The palace was damaged by several fires and earthquakes and rebuilt several times. It now houses a museum that displays furniture, paintings, coins, weapons, and other items from Dubrovnik’s history.
Stradun is also known for its events and festivals that take place throughout the year. Some of them are:
- The New Year’s Eve: Stradun becomes a huge open-air party with live music, fireworks, and thousands of people celebrating.
- The Feast of St. Blaise: On February 3rd, Stradun hosts a procession of locals carrying banners, relics, and statues of St. Blaise, followed by a mass at his church.
- The Carnival: In February or March, Stradun is filled with colorful masks, costumes, floats, and performers celebrating this ancient tradition.
- The Summer Festival: From July to August, Stradun becomes a stage for various cultural events, such as concerts, theater plays, dance shows, and more.
Stradun is more than just a street; it is a symbol of Dubrovnik’s history, culture, and spirit. It is a place where you can enjoy its beauty, charm, and atmosphere at any time of day or night.