Gargoyles and Other Oddities of Dubrovnik… Seaports of the Mediterranean

I found this marvelous gargoyle about a foot off the Stradun connected the the Franciscan Monastery.

I found this marvelous gargoyle about a foot off the Stradun connected the Franciscan Monastery in Dubrovnik, Croatia. Check out the great mustache!

Weird amuses me… and few things are weirder than a gargoyle. During the middle ages, no decent cathedral would be caught without them. In addition to piping water away from the building, they served as reminders to the faithful that evil lurked in the world, an evil that could only be overcome by attending church and donating money. Their cousins, grotesques, were also found on churches. Equally ugly and portentous, they didn’t carry water.

Whenever I get near a gargoyle or grotesque, I can’t help myself; I have to take its photo.

Peggy caught this Dubrovnik gargoyle. Possibly it represents one of the winds.

Peggy caught this Dubrovnik gargoyle. Possibly it represents one of the winds.

I took this closeup of the Dubrovnik gargoyle Peggy photographed above. Note the water dribbling down its chin.

I took this closeup of the Dubrovnik gargoyle Peggy photographed above. Note the water dribbling down its chin.

We found examples of grotesques in the cloister of the Franciscan Monastery of Dubrovnik on top of columns. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson)

We found examples of grotesques in the cloister of the Franciscan Monastery of Dubrovnik on top of columns. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson)

Dragons were a popular subject for both gargoyles and grotesques. What could be more scary. We found this specimen with his fine set of choppers in the Franciscan Monastery.

Dragons were a popular subject for both gargoyles and grotesques. What could be more scary. We found this specimen with his fine set of choppers in the Franciscan Monastery.

I have also found that fountains in Europe often host strange-looking beings. While the wealthy in pre modern times might have water piped into their homes, the common folks obtained their water from community fountains. Dubrovnik built an aqueduct system in the mid 1400s to bring water to the city and then located two public fountains on the Stradun: big Onofrio’s Fountain located near the Pile Gate and little Onofrio’s Fountain found next to the clock tower in Lutz Square.

The top of Little Onofrio's Fountain with its ferocious looking fish. The fountain is located near the clock tower in Dubrovnik, Croatia.

The top of Little Onofrio’s Fountain with its ferocious looking fish. The fountain is located near the clock tower in Dubrovnik, Croatia.

Another view of Little Onofrio's Fountain.

Another view of Little Onofrio’s Fountain. The oranges, BTW, were part of Dubrovnik’s Christmas decorations.

Big Onofrio's Fountain located near the Pile Gate had 16 sides and each side featured a different mask with a spout coming out of its mouth. This was a cow mask.

Big Onofrio’s Fountain located near the Pile Gate had 16 sides and each side featured a different mask with a spout coming out of its mouth. This was a cow mask.

Something I find even stranger than gargoyles, grotesques or fountain inhabitants are relics… bits and pieces of saints or other holy items kept around in reliquaries as items of worship.  The Dubrovnik Cathedral has a particularly impressive set including a supposedly genuine piece of the Cross of Jesus, Baby Jesus’ swaddling clothes and various body parts of St. Blaise.

All of these items are reputedly capable of performing miracles and it is something of a miracle they exist. How they were obtained is usually rooted in the murky past. Pieces of the swaddling clothes were provided to women having difficult births. No matter how many pieces were cut out of the cloth, so it is said, the cloth returned to its original form.

I came across St. Luke's finger in the small museum found in the Franciscan Monastery in Dubrovnik. The finger is encased in the gold reliquary. I know people take these items seriously but I can only find them strange.

I came across St. Luke’s finger in the small museum found in the Franciscan Monastery in Dubrovnik. The finger is encased in the gold reliquary. I know people take these items seriously, but I can only find relics strange.

NEXT BLOGS… Next week I will be travelling to Las Vegas to celebrate one of the Big O birthdays. That’s Big O as in Oh S****, I can’t believe I am this old. Anyway… I may opt out of blogging depending on the amount of time I play. If I do get up blogs they will be on the journey through the Nevada desert and the bright lights of the city. Did you know that Las Vegas is lit up with 15,000 miles of neon tubing? Peggy just read that in the Smithsonian Magazine. The following week I will be back with blogs about Venice and Burning Man 2013.

4 comments on “Gargoyles and Other Oddities of Dubrovnik… Seaports of the Mediterranean

  1. Very cool fountains.. I always wanted a fountain in the yard but have yet to get one..
    Now what was the point of encasing St Luke’s finger in gold? That’s like shrining Van Gogh’s ear..odd

    • There was a whole industry dedicated to creating and selling relics in the Middle Ages Lynne. In addition to theoretically having healing powers, they made the church scads of money. It has been said (in humor) that the Catholic Church would have had to cut down a forest to provide all of the pieces of the Cross it sold. Such activities were a major cause of the Protestant Reformation.

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