The Festivity of Saint Blaise in Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik, the stunning coastal city in Croatia, is not only known for its picturesque scenery and historical sites but also for its vibrant cultural celebrations. One of the most significant and cherished events in Dubrovnik is the Festivity of Saint Blaise, the patron saint of the city. This centuries-old tradition holds a special place in the hearts of the locals and attracts visitors from around the world.

Origins and Legends

The origins of the Festivity of Saint Blaise can be traced back to the 10th century when the people of Dubrovnik found themselves under siege by the Venetians. Saint Blaise, a bishop and martyr, played a crucial role in defending the city and securing its freedom. As a token of gratitude, he was declared the patron saint of Dubrovnik. To this day, the festivity commemorates his heroic deeds and serves as a testament to the city’s resilience.

Legend has it that during the Venetian siege, Saint Blaise appeared to the people of Dubrovnik in a dream and advised them on how to protect their city. Inspired by his guidance, the locals managed to repel the invaders and maintain their independence. In honor of Saint Blaise, a new Baroque Church of St Blaise was constructed on the foundations of the old Romanesque edifice, becoming a focal point of the festivity.

Symbolic Rituals and Processions

The Festivity of Saint Blaise begins on the eve of February 2nd, also known as Candlemas, with a symbolic release of white doves. This powerful image represents peace and serves as a reminder of the city’s enduring spirit. The festivities officially commence with the raising of the flag of Saint Blaise in front of the church, followed by the procession through the main street of Stradun.

During the procession, the festanjuli, chosen individuals with the honor of leading the parade, guide the way with pride. The streets come alive with the sound of antique guns fired by the trombunjeri, adding a touch of excitement to the celebration. The procession is a captivating sight, accompanied by the hymn “Čuj Sveti Vlaho naš” (“Hear us, St Blaise”), resonating through the air.

A Tapestry of Tradition and Culture

The Festivity of Saint Blaise is a true reflection of Dubrovnik’s rich cultural heritage. The locals, dressed in traditional costumes, play a significant role in preserving the customs and traditions passed down through generations. The festival showcases various aspects of human creativity, from rituals to folk songs and traditional crafts.

The lovely girls of Dubrovnik, adorned in vibrant traditional costumes, add a touch of elegance to the festivities. Their attire, meticulously crafted with intricate details, is a testament to the city’s deep-rooted cultural pride. The festivity also highlights traditional craftsmanship, including the making of historical weapons used in the celebration, showcasing the skilled artisans of Dubrovnik.

Inclusivity and Community Spirit

The Festivity of Saint Blaise is a celebration that transcends boundaries and welcomes everyone, regardless of age or background. It is a time when the entire community comes together to honor their patron saint and celebrate the spirit of freedom. What makes this festivity truly unique is the long-standing tradition of granting amnesty to criminals during the two-day celebration.

Dubrovnik opens its doors to people from all over Croatia and beyond, fostering a sense of unity and inclusivity. The festivity serves as a reminder of the city’s commitment to preserving its cultural heritage and the values of freedom and peace. It is a testament to the enduring spirit of Dubrovnik and its people.

Festivity and Tourism

The Festivity of Saint Blaise has gained international recognition and attracts visitors from around the world. Tourists and locals alike flock to Dubrovnik during this time to witness the captivating celebrations and immerse themselves in the city’s vibrant atmosphere. The festivity offers a unique opportunity to experience the rich cultural traditions of Dubrovnik and engage with its warm and welcoming community.

Visitors can explore the historical sites of Dubrovnik, such as the Old City, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and witness the festivity’s profound influence on the city’s identity. The combination of breathtaking architecture, cultural heritage, and the joyous atmosphere of the festivity creates an unforgettable experience for all who attend.

Things to Do During the Festivity

While the Festivity of Saint Blaise takes center stage, there are many other attractions and activities to enjoy in Dubrovnik. Here are some recommendations to enhance your experience:

1. Explore the Old City

Take a leisurely stroll through the enchanting streets of the Old City of Dubrovnik. Admire the well-preserved medieval architecture, visit historical landmarks, and indulge in the local cuisine. The Old City offers a glimpse into Dubrovnik’s rich history and provides a captivating backdrop for the festivity.

2. Visit the Baroque Church of St Blaise

Pay a visit to the Baroque Church of St Blaise, the focal point of the festivity. Marvel at its exquisite design and delve into the history and significance of Saint Blaise in Dubrovnik. The church is a testament to the city’s deep-rooted devotion to its patron saint.

3. Attend Cultural Performances

Immerse yourself in the vibrant cultural scene of Dubrovnik by attending traditional music and dance performances. Experience the lively melodies, captivating rhythms, and graceful movements that showcase the city’s artistic heritage. The festivity provides a perfect opportunity to witness the local talent and celebrate Dubrovnik’s cultural richness.

4. Explore the City Walls

Embark on a journey along the magnificent Dubrovnik City Walls. Enjoy panoramic views of the city, the Adriatic Sea, and the surrounding landscapes. The City Walls offer a unique perspective on Dubrovnik’s history and provide a sense of awe-inspiring grandeur.

5. Indulge in Local Cuisine

No visit to Dubrovnik is complete without savoring the local cuisine. Sample delicious seafood dishes, traditional delicacies, and Croatian wines at the city’s charming restaurants and taverns. The festivity provides an excellent opportunity to taste the flavors of Dubrovnik’s culinary heritage.

6. Take a Boat Tour with the Galleon Tirena

During the Festivity of Saint Blaise, another delightful activity to consider is taking a boat tour with the Galleon Tirena. Cruise along the azure waters of the Adriatic Sea aboard this majestic vessel, soaking in panoramic views of Dubrovnik’s stunning coastline. With the wind in your hair and the sun on your face, you’ll experience the beauty of the Adriatic in a truly memorable way. Relax on deck, enjoy refreshing drinks, and marvel at the picturesque scenery as you glide past rugged cliffs, hidden coves, and pristine islands. The boat tour with the Galleon Tirena offers a peaceful escape from the bustling streets of Dubrovnik and provides a unique perspective on the city’s coastal splendor.

Plan Your Visit

To make the most of your visit to Dubrovnik during the Festivity of Saint Blaise, consider the following tips:

1. Check the Festivity Schedule

Before your visit, check the official festivity schedule to ensure you don’t miss out on any key events or processions. The festivity typically takes place in early February, so plan your trip accordingly.

2. Book Accommodation in Advance

Dubrovnik is a popular tourist destination, especially during the festivity. To secure the best accommodation options, book your stay well in advance. Whether you prefer luxury hotels or cozy guesthouses, Dubrovnik offers a range of choices to suit every taste and budget.

3. Embrace the Local Customs

During the festivity, respect and embrace the local customs and traditions. Dress appropriately for the occasion, show reverence during religious ceremonies, and immerse yourself in the festive spirit with a sense of openness and curiosity.

4. Engage with the Community

Interact with the locals and engage in conversations to learn more about the significance of the festivity and Dubrovnik’s cultural heritage. The people of Dubrovnik are known for their warm hospitality and are eager to share their stories and traditions.

5. Capture the Memories

Don’t forget to capture the magical moments of the festivity. Take photographs, record videos, and create lasting memories of your time in Dubrovnik. Share your experiences with others and spread the joy and beauty of the Festivity of Saint Blaise.

The Festivity of Saint Blaise in Dubrovnik is a celebration that encapsulates the city’s rich cultural heritage, resilience, and community spirit. This centuries-old tradition brings together locals and visitors to honor the patron saint of Dubrovnik and experience the joyous festivities. From symbolic rituals to captivating processions, the festivity showcases the city’s deep-rooted traditions, craftsmanship, and sense of unity. Immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere, explore the historical sites, and indulge in the local culture and cuisine. The Festivity of Saint Blaise is an unforgettable experience that will leave a lasting impression on all who attend.