If only those stones could talk, what a tale they would have. People have met, bought provisions, done business and fallen in love in the square forums of the city. They form the ideal site for markets, debates and cafes…nothing much has changed over the past 600 years.
Wind your way through the cobbled side streets or stride along the main street, the Stradun, and sooner or later your path will led you to one of the various squares in the Old City. A typical medieval city with large open spaces, needed for public and private business, the Old City is living proof of harmonious urban planning. It is certainly no coincidence that the squares of the Old City are located at key areas, there was a clear method to this planning.
One of the jewels in the crown of the Old City squares is the wide open Luža Square. Situated at the end of the main artery of the Old City, the Stradun, the Luža Square is and has always been the heart of the city. All of the most important buildings of the Republic of Dubrovnik surround the four sides of the square, the St. Blaise Church, the State treasury, the Palace of the Rector, the customs house and even the headquarters of the city guard. And located right in the middle of the square is the Orlando’s column, a statute dedicated to the knight Roland and a statue that has been the centre of the society for centuries. Today the Luža Square is still the main focus point of the city, humming café bars spread into the square and tourists flock to one of the most photographed sites in the city.
The Gundulić Square is another jewel of the city, close behind the Luža Square in terms of importance. Named after the renowned 17th century poet Ivan Gundulić the square features a magnificent statue of the bard. The square is well-known as being the market place of the city; in fact the square holds the oldest market in Dubrovnik, and it is still thriving today. Gundulić Square is a chameleon, changing its purpose throughout the day. From the early hours of the morning the square is a market place, the citizens flock to purchase fresh locally grown produce, from homegrown tomatoes, olive oil and dried figs the market has always fed and watered the Old City. Later in the afternoon the square takes on a new role, as a place to sit and relax in the shade with a cool drink, or to chat over a cup of coffee. And then in the evening the square transforms into a romantic backdrop for evening meals. Gundulić Square, along with Luža Square, is a true great of the Old City squares.
The public squares of the Old City create unique atmospheres inside the protection of the solid city walls. Sit a while, enjoy the view, people watch, buy a souvenir…it will soon be clear why the squares are so important to the citizens of the city, squares that they truly cherish.